when The Jetsons premiered in 1962, show writers William Hanna and Joseph Barbera imagined what the future might look like in 100 years. They also created George Jetson, the “dad of the future,” to handle the trials and tribulations of the nuclear household of 2062, and they set his date of birth as July 31, 2022(Opens in a new window).
In celebration of this beloved cartoon father’s birthday, we decided to take a look at the various gizmos and gadgets in the show to see how much of it might have inspired modern technologies we use today. It turns out there’s a quite a lot.
1. Video Calls
(Credit: Chris Montgomery/Unsplash)
Perhaps the most obvious bit of tech from The Jetsons to make its way to the modern age is the video call. Video calls took place regularly on the show, most often for connecting family members to one another or for connecting George to his boss.
Notably, the first real video call(Opens in a new window) took place long before the show was even created, in 1927, to connect then-US Secretary of Commerce Herbert Hoover in Washington, DC to then-AT&T President Walter Gifford in New York City. AT&T later announced video conferencing as a subscription service(Opens in a new window) at the 1964 World’s Fair, but canceled it in the ’70s due to low subscription rates. Nowadays video calling is so commonplace that most of the popular services we use on a regular basis are offered for free.
2. Personal Assistants
(Credit: Boston Globe/Getty Images)
The cultural impact of Rosie the robot cannot be overstated when talking about tech from The Jetsons. While having a personal robot assistant like Rosie still remains largely a dream, voice assistants are very much a reality that many of us use on a daily basis. And let’s not forget about robot vacuums and mops, two welcome household ‘bots that do some of the dirty work for us. There’s also the Astro, Amazon’s personal robot that can act as a mobile voice assistant and security guard (and shares a name with the Jetsons’ dog(Opens in a new window)), and Proteus, the company’s fully autonomous robot designed to work at Amazon’s fulfillment and sort centers (at least initially). So while we may not have our own Rosie just yet, we’re getting pretty close.
(Credit: Apple/René Ramos)
George Jetson was constantly getting work calls from his boss on his wristwatch. While that watch was almost exclusively used for video calls in the show, modern smartwatches are far more useful, offering you navigation directions or the ability to call a cab, measuring your activity and heart rate, and, of course, letting you make and answer phone calls. Some models offer video-calling capabilities as well, but these day we have plenty of more convenient screens for that.
4. Food Printing
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Preparing dinner on The Jetsons was as simple as choosing what you wanted to eat and setting it into the food replicator, which automatically produced tasty-looking results (for a cartoon, that is). In 2006, the Cornell University student group [email protected](Opens in a new window) created the first 3D printer capable of printing food, with a series of syringes filled with substances like chocolate and cookie dough. Modern 3D food printers use cartridges of powdered food components (such as proteins and simple carbohydrates) to create different foods within the printer itself.
While 3D food printers haven’t quite reached a level of ubiquity where most of have one on the kitchen shelf, we’ve reviewed gadgets at PCMag such as the Zimplistic Rotimatic, which turns out perfect roti at the push of a button. While it’s not quite a food replicator, we can tell you that the future of flatbread is indeed delicious.
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5. Space Tourism
(Credit: Patrick T. Fallon/Getty Images)
Though The Jetsons took place in the fictional, cloud-based Orbit City, space travel on the show was so commonplace that people would take vacations to the moon.
While it’ll likely be some time before you can book an interstellar family getaway, the first space tourist is set to visit the International Space Station in 2023. In addition, companies like Blue Origin are regularly launching missions to send their own teams of astronauts into space with the goal of making space travel possible for the common individual.
Looking back, it’s pretty impressive just how far technology has advanced since The Jetsons was created. We can’t know for sure what the next 60 years has in store for us and what technology will meet us there, but we can at least hope that much of it is fun as what Hanna-Barbera dreamed up in 1962. Want to stream The Jetsons? Watch all three seasons on HBO Max(Opens in a new window),
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