Chris Gainor: Jetsons Prove the Future Isn't What It Used to Be

Roundup: Talking About History

[Chris Gainor is writing his PhD dissertation on the history of technology. His most recent books are To A Distant Day: The Rocket Pioneers and Who Killed the Avro Arrow?]

Do historians always look at the past?

Not always. Some historians conduct research on how conceptions of the future have changed over time.

If that doesn't make sense, think about the common observation that the future isn't what it used to be. That's where historians come in, to ask how it changed and why.

The head of the family, George Jetson, pushed buttons at Spacely Space Sprockets and was the sole breadwinner for his wife Jane, teenage daughter Judy and younger son Elroy, their dog Astro and robot maid Rosie.

The Jetsons' flying cars and space-needle architecture never came to pass. But George Jetson was subject to constant and capricious surveillance by his boss, something that has come true for many harried workers. And Jane Jetson still found it a challenge to feed her family, even with a push-button pantry.

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