Welcome to 2012! Last year flew by, with few notable digital innovations coming to the forefront, and, sadly, we lost the biggest game-changer of them all, Steve Jobs. So rather than prognosticating about where we’re going, let’s see how far we’ve come in the last 50 years.
Fifty years ago, 1962 was a banner year for TV progress. On Jan. 1st, the Rose Bowl aired on NBC as the first coast-to-coast color broadcast of a college football game. Walter Cronkite took the anchor chair on CBS News, and probably most critical to our future, in July of 1962, Telstar 1 became the first satellite to relay a live public transatlantic television signal.
To many pop culture fans, 2012 also marks the 50th anniversary of “The Jetsons,” which premiered on September 23,1962. The animated series with a mid-century-modern flair featured a “nuclear” family -- patriarch George, Jane his wife, his boy Elroy, and teenage daughter Judy, who live in a spectacular Seattle Space Needle-type apartment (this was the year of the 1962 Seattle World’s Fair in Orbit City). Although it was never explicitly stated, the show takes place 100 years in the future, in 2062. We’re halfway there. So how are we doing, 50 years into “The Jetsons’” past?
For one thing, just as they suspected, screens are everywhere (although ads are not). In one episode, Elroy’s friend watches the billionth rerun of “The Flintstones” on his wrist TV (OK, those are already passé). Video phones like Skype are the norm (even to the point of using a glamour still-shot when your hair is in curlers). Cell phones don’t exist, or are the thing of the past – in the Jetsons’ world, the phone finds you (RFID, anyone?). Flying cars are still a big no, but, having navigated L.A. streets for 15 years, that may be a good thing. In the future, computers are still enormous, they missed out on miniaturization, but hit the nail on the head with flat-screen technology and video-on-demand. And robotic vacuum cleaners? There is the Roomba. We’re still decades away from a wisecracking robot maid, but this year’s Siri launch from Apple is a start.
So, welcome to 2012 -- maybe this will be the year that culminates in on-demand experiences that transcend platforms and content ownership issues. Of course, we’re not holding our breaths. But perhaps many of our digital issues will be solved before we get to our favorite part of the Jetsonian future, best exemplified by when George comes home from work and complains to Jane, “These three-hour days are killing me!”