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'Jetsons' turns 50: Technology dreamers' window to future

Christina DesMarais 24 Sep 2012

Futuristic technology was given a platform in "The Jetsons." Now, the cartoon that made you smile and dream of what could be has turned 50.

While we don't yet have flying cars with bubble glass transporting people around, robots that walk and talk and so-called "roadable aircraft" do exist.

Consider this: Scaled Composite's BiPod, an airplane that can pull off short takeoffs and landings and travel at super high speeds over a long range while also being capable of freeway speeds, urban driving, and garage storage.

There's also Terrafugia's flying vehicle called the Transition, which recently received approval from the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. It should be available for purchase sometime next year.

And robots like Rosie? There are plenty of them out there doing cool things for people, although the domestic servants in most common use are vacuum cleaners like iRobot's Roomba.

A few weeks ago the cult TV show "Star Trek" turned 46 years old. And now "The Jetsons" gets its turn at a big birthday.

You have to be a certain age to appreciate this milestone.

My children don't know who Bugs Bunny or Gilligan are. But if you're someone who can easily bring to mind "The Jetsons" theme song, which starts "Meet George Jetson," you're full aware of who Elroy, Judy and Jane are, not to mention the dog Astro and robot maid Rosie.

According to Time's Harry McCracken, Hanna-Barbera followed up the prime-time cartoon "The Flintstones" with "The Jetsons" for the first time on September 23, 1962. The futuristic show only aired originally for one season, a mere 24 episodes, although a second batch of installments ran between 1985 and 1987.

"It's done as much as any work of fiction to shape our view of the world of tomorrow," McCracken writes.