Recently, I decided to watch a few episodes of The Jetsons with the intention of picking out futuristic technologies that exist today, roughly 50 years later. All of the episodes I watched aired in the first season, between 1962 and 1963. These episodes ran on re-run steadily until the 1980′s, when ongoing popular demand led to production of new episodes.
The TeleViewer is a screen with the sole purpose of delivering news headlines in a similar format to newsprint. It has moving images (read: embedded media) and provides the reader with a more interactive and multi-dimensional experience. In essence, the TeleViewer predicts online news and the shift from print to digital. This shift has never been more clear than it is now with the iPad.
In this episode, a wealthy businessman is attended to while bathing in his personal tanning bed – the varying levels of strength indicated by the options Miami, Honolulu and Riviera. While single bulbs and the notion of “false sunlight” was introduced in the 20s and 30s, true personal tanning beds were not introduced to America until Friedrich Wolff did so in 1978 – over a decade later than this airing of this episode.
Despite being predicted by many, The Jetsons was quite early in their predictions, as well as rather persistent. Video chat is used frequently in every episode I watched. Clearly, with webcams and Skype, as well as the iPhone 4′s new FaceTime, this has quite clearly come true. Interestingly enough, however, is that in The Jetsons, this is the only means of long-distance communication: there is no telephone. While it remains to be seen the extent to which video conversations become the norm, it’s quite clear The Jetsons didn’t have text-based communication in mind.
A regular theme in The Jetsons is that of domestic work made easy; characters often complain of the grueling chores they are faced with, despite nearly all being complete with the press of a button. This automatic robot vacuum cleaner reminded me a lot of the iRobot Roomba that received a lot of commercial time a few years ago, and decided it deserved to make the list.
Talking Alarm Clock
For me, this represents more than just the talking alarm clocks of today. It represents the notion of voice-activation, voice-recognition software, computer speech and the like. To me, it all reminds me of irritating automated telephone menus which are rendered impossible to navigate by what is supposed to be convenient. It’s just annoying.
Alright, I’ll be honest here. While we do have automatic orange juice dispensers, coffee makers, toasters and so forth, I can’t really think of an all-in-one station like the one featured here. It’s all just a big excuse to post the following video from one of my favorite films of all time – 1:15 for relevance.