Saturday, July 14, 2018

Disney imagines the Jetsons

This is from a 1958 Disney show predicting what transportation would be like today. They got the GPS system and rearview TV cameras right. The air conditioned tubes through Death Valley, and driving under the ocean -- maybe next year. Their most extraordinary prediction is that at any one time there would only be four cars on the road. Anyway, it's great fun to watch.

31 comments :

Janet Ybarra said...

Only 4 cars on the road at the same time? That would be a dream around DC where the Beltway and I270 are both usually parking lots during rush hour. :)

But seriously, that was very cool and fun to watch, if also a bit sad in its own way. It was so neat that through the late '50s and through the '60s the view of the future was so often upbeat and utopian.

If you were to put a team like that together today to imagine a basic aspect of life another 60 years into the future, would the outcome still be so upbeat and utopian ... given what we are faced with today?

Iconoclast Jones said...

Yesterday's tomorrow. Love it!

Pete Grossman said...

Ya gotta love the wonderfully, hokey *futuristic* music. And the VO just kills.

I'm Outraged! said...

How could they fail to predict 'The Space Force'?

ernie said...

Ken, Harlan Ellison died a couple weeks ago, and i was wondering if you ever met him and, if so, what you thought of him ( or what you thought of him even if you didn't meet him.

Unknown said...

The shame is that more of what was predicted could have been possible by now. It's particularly a shame that we don't have the technology of the highway itself....that we are still living off roadway technology decades old. Much more of it could have been possible if the bottom didn't start to fall out of public funding starting back in the '80s....

Carol said...

where's my radar windscreen?

Tom said...

They got the interstate highway system right (though that could have been predicted by seeing the WWI-era German autobahns). I read somewhere that one reason there is so much more traffic on interstates near cities is that no one ever thought that people who live in the area would use the interstates to get around locally. I live near 294, which rings around Chicago going to and from Indiana and Wisconsin, and apparently planners thought only truckers and long-distance drivers would ever use the road. In reality, of course, countless Chicago area residents use 294 all the time; it's been widened and refurbished, and still can be a parking lot. Unintended consequences...

Still trying to figure out how the Disney folks thought those roads hanging off mountains would be built or serviced.

Eric J said...

60 years later, you can get stuck in a massive traffic jam with no apparent cause on the 405 at 3 am.

Janet Ybarra said...

Repairmen wearing jetpacks?

Tom said...

World War II-era autobahns, I mean.

The Bumble Bee Pendant said...

Notice the stuff that’s come true was all private sector stuff and stuff that hasn’t is controlled by the public sector.

gottacook said...

Bumble Bee: Do you really think GPS is public-sector?

Janet Ybarra said...

Actually, GPS technology originally developed and provided via satellite for military use. The Clinton administration opened it up for commercial use in the mid '90s. I know that to be true because I was there to cover Clinton science adviser Neal Lane's announcement of the news.

In general, the way technology development worked for decades is the government handled basic R&D and pass the tech off to the private sector via technology transfer such as a cooperative research and development agreement.

Peter said...

In 1989, Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale promised flying cars and hoverboards by 2015 and goddammit I'm still waiting.

Cap'n Bob said...

There may not be highways under the oceans but there are a few pretty big ones under waterways. The Chunnel, of course, and the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel. I traveled in the latter when I was a kid and it was an eerie experience.

Liggie said...

The family car thing is partially true. They did get Skype (the dad's videoconferencing), and driverless cars are closer to reality than concept.

Janet Ybarra said...

The private sector is too focused on short term profits and stock price growth to invest what is required in long term basic research.

The federal government used to do an admirable job, and although there have been a few fits and starts--federal funding for science and technology has overall waned for a generation... certainly in the physical sciences away from biomedical.

Janet Ybarra said...

I traveled the Chunnel about 20 years ago...and it was just a smooth train ride.

I remember the old TV series SEAQUEST DSV and it is a shame we haven't done more undersea work.

gottacook said...

Sorry, I was (mis)typing on my phone and of course meant the opposite of what I typed earlier. "Do you really think GPS is public-sector?" should have been "Do you really think GPS is private-sector?" It's U.S. government all the way.

Janet Ybarra said...

If you think of the big, transformative technologies in our society--semiconductor, radar, the Internet, cell phones and more--all started with federally supported research and then commercialized by industry. Unfortunately what we have today is mostly incremental improvement on existing tech. We haven't really had transformative tech in some time... and we won't until we recognize that stuff needs massive federal support.

Donald Benson said...

Two more realistic looks at freeway driving, starring Goofy.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ozG3EfPkXoY
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UUrD0MEUMFk

Janet Ybarra said...

Hi Ken, I've got a MASH FQ for you. The series' storytelling was usually top-notch, but it seemed to have more continuity glitches than I've seen on most series.

Half the time Henry's wife was named Mildred. The other half she was Lorraine.

In several early episodes, Hawkeye talks about being from Vermont, with a mother and sister before eventually being settled in Crabapple Cove, Maine as an only child of a widower dad.

And then there's the episode I just watched for the millionth time, "War For All Seasons."

As an episode, it's a beautiful and funny story. But it's like it takes place at an alternative universe 4077th.

The episode bookends with New Year's Eve 1950 to New Year's Eve 1951. But Cool. Potter is the CO and Charles and BJ are present in camp.

It's like, given that the Korean War only began halfway through 1950, where did Henry Blake, Trapper John, and Frank Burns go? It's like they were never there.

I realize that you and David we're not there all those years and not there for that episode in question. But I'm just wondering what you thought about all the continuity errors, if the producers and writers discussed these issues, or even if there was a show Bible?

Do you even consider continuity to be important?

Thanks!

Tom Wolper said...

As an animation fan I thought the backgrounds were gorgeous. One technology the film predicts correctly is the multimodal cargo container. It's a big driver of globalization because it brings down shipping costs: a single metal container that can easily be transferred to or from a ship, train, or truck.

Anonymous said...

I wonder if the guy who narrated that is the actor who played the genie in a Twilight Zone episode. It sounds like him. I remember when I was a kid reading predictions about the year 2000 and about how people would someday have screens to look at each other while talking on the phone. It seemed so far out then. They also predicted we would apparently be happy getting our nutrition from a pill. Great observation Bumble Bee! Julie, Burlington, Iowa

Mike McCann said...

I believe that voiceover talent was Marvin Miller, whose work was all over TV and radio during the 1950s and '60s -- but is best remembered for his on-camera stardom in TV's THE MILLIONAIRE.

Earl Boebert said...

The people who built the interurban railways understood that roads are traffic generators, not traffic dissolvers. They would lay a line through open fields confident that the presence of it would spur the development of suburbs. In many cities, such as Minneapolis, they sought to generate weekend traffic by putting a cemetery at one end of the line and an amusement park at the other.

James said...

I'm old enough to remember when Disneyland's Tomorrowland was full of concept ideas for the future--like the People Movers. In a way, it predicts the idea of current (and near future) ride-sharing and ride-hailing.

Donald Benson said...

The problem with Tomorrowland was that the future stuff tended to date pretty rapidly. The Flight to the Moon was updated with now-silly film of a moon base; and then with a carefully scientific but kind of dull trip to Mars. The Autopia was built to represent the then-exotic freeways; soon enough it felt like a miniature version of everyday commuting. And when the Monorail debuted, it was hyped as the solution to traffic woes. At WDW in Florida, there's apparently little talk of expanding the monorail system but a high-capacity gondola network is going up.

kent said...

As usual Disney focused on the possibilities of science and technology rather than the pragmatics of economics and cultural evolution. Sadly, what we're capable of creating always lags behind what we can reasonable afford to build. Also, as usual, I note that Disney still has dad going to work and mom to the mall. Feminism never was high on Walt's list of priorities.

Anonymous said...

Mike, Thank you! Yes his voice sounded so familiar and apparently was ubiquitous back then. I guess the genie actor, Joseph Ruskin, voiced the alien in the "To Serve Man" episode. I wonder what it would be like to hear your own voice and think, Dang I sound great! And not cringe like I do. When someone from radio calls me at work I know right away from their voice that they are going to tell me they are calling from a radio station. I used to have a apartment neighbor who was an older gentleman, and he had the "transatlantic accent" just like someone from a 30's movie. And no, he wasn't an old actor; he was just an old creep who went through everybody's mail.
Earl, how interesting! So I wonder what would attract people nowadays, as cemeteries and amusement parks probably were an obvious draw then. I had always figured it was the other way around -- they built roads to accommodate large populations. Julie, Burlington, Iowa