'The Jetsons' at 50: The future is now

"The Jetsons" promotional image. Photo Credit: Hanna-Barbera Productions. 1994

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Fifty years ago this month, we met George Jetson, daughter Judy, his boy Elroy and Jane, his wife -- citizens of a 21st century filled with videophones, floating chairs, household robots (with British, French and Brooklyn accents, no less) and, of course, flying cars. It was set "one century in the future," as Time magazine noted in 1962 -- the show itself never specified a 21st century year.

The half-hour animated sitcom -- which aired from Sept. 23, 1962, to Sept. 8, 1963, as an ABC Sunday night prime-time series before beginning endless reruns -- lasted only 24 episodes initially, with 1985 and 1987 syndicated productions bringing the total to 75. Looking back on the original series, born in the New Frontier Space Age of bright, suburban optimism and better living through science, how accurate were its predictions for the 21st century? Not bad, through these 50 years. Here's a look:

 

 

HOUSEHOLD HELP

 

THE JETSONS -- Robot maid

2012 -- Roomba

 

 

INDOOR SPORTS

 

THE JETSONS -- Virtual tennis, baseball

2012 -- Wii

 

 

PERSONAL VIDEO

 

THE JETSONS -- TV wristwatch

2012 -- iPod, iPad

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PERSONAL FLIGHT

 

THE JETSONS -- Jet pack

2012 -- Wingsuit

 

 

COMPUTERS

 

THE JETSONS -- Wall-sized, reel-to-reel tape

2012 -- Laptop, silicon chip

 

 

BIG-SCREEN TV

 

THE JETSONS -- Yes, with squarish or curvilinear monitors

2012 -- Yes -- and flat-screen!

 

 

3-D TV

 

THE JETSONS -- Yes

2012 -- Yes

 

 

VIDEOPHONE

 

THE JETSONS -- Yes

2012 -- Skype

 

 

PUBLIC TELEPHONES

 

THE JETSONS -- Visaphone booth

2012 -- What's a phone booth?

 

 

MACHINE DISPENSING COOKED FOOD

 

THE JETSONS -- Foodarackacyle

2012 -- Microwave

 

 

SPACE TOURISM

 

THE JETSONS -- Common

2012 -- A couple of billionaires so far

 

 

FLYING CARS

 

THE JETSONS -- Yes

2012 -- No. And just as well; you don't want to be below a flying-car accident.

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