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The 1958 Documentary That Inspired the Jetsons

Cars of the future drive themselves but Mom is still relegated to the back seat in this clip from "Magic Highway, U.S.A." Originally broadcast on the Walt Disney television show in May 1958, the last fifteen minutes of the program (referred to as "The Road Ahead") showed radar-equipped cars whizzing along color-coordinated highways, while ambulance jets swooped down to pick up the squashed remains of accident victims, both human and vehicular. The style and tone of the whole movie is very Jetsons-esque.

After the family car is automatically washed and refueled at home, Dad (in a snazzy pair of Ugg boots) takes responsibility for setting the automatic course. Then he's free to play checkers with wife and son—or ignore them altogether while conducting a video conference up front. Closer to the city, the car separates into two vehicles, one headed to Dad's office (which looks suspiciously like George Jetson's building), the other taking Mom and son to the shopping center (just like Jane Jetson!). You can watch a longer clip from "The Road Ahead" here (and here's the opening sequence of "The Jetsons" [1962], if you want to compare and contrast).


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Chris Braak

@tetracycloide: Not me. Paying attention to the road during my commute every day feels like two wasted, irrecoverable hours.

Maybe it'll be different when I get my motorcycle.