It’s 2011, in case no one told you. Where is my Jetson’s flying car?
I grew up in the 1960s. The dark ages, as it were, of the technology age. Or rather, the beginning of the technology age. We saw the newly created transistor put to use by the Japanese as they miniaturized everything. My generation was the first to have hand-held transistor radios. Little plastic boxes on a strap, with a tiny 3 inch speaker that allowed us to hang out on the playground and listen to music.
Phones, at the time, were still corded and were rotary dial. Long distance telephone calls were expensive and involved several operators. Televisions were heavy tube affairs with knobs and you physically had to get up to turn it on and change the channel. There was only over-the-air TV, no cable, no satellite. You only got local stations. Computers were still the size of rooms. Cars had carburetors and distributor caps and were fairly simple to work on. Typewriters were mostly manual, the IBM Selectric (also known as the Golfball Typewriter) had just been introduced in 1961. Books were made of paper and at the library, you used a card catalog to find what you were seeking. And new movies could only be seen at the theater.
Mankind had just started exploring space. I got excited by the first man in space. The first man to orbit the earth. The first man to go for a spacewalk. By the end of the decade, we had put a man on the moon.
Technology was making life interesting. Sci-Fi was becoming reality.
But much of it was still, well, fiction. “Lost in Space,” where they sent a family to colonize a distant planet was set in 1998. “Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea” was set in the early 1970s. “Space: 1999” is self-explicit. Then of course, there was “2001: A Space Odyssey.”
By the end of the 20th Century and into the early 21st Century, Mankind was not just supposed to be reaching the moon, but for the stars; we were supposed to have gone beyond them. We were supposed to have space stations. Colonized worlds. Have our own personal jetpacks or helicoptor-like vehicles or even jetcars. We should have had laser guns, personal robot servants, all sorts of futuristic gadgets were supposed to be within our grasp.
But where are they? Where is the future we were promised?
Well, let me Google that on my smartphone while I use my Starbucks locator to tell me where the nearest store to my position is.
Because to a child of the 60s, the world around me is amazing. Flat screen LCD or plasma high definition televisions. Computer laptops with a computing power that far surpasses that of what it took to put the man on the moon. Cars are computerized, fuel injected and now hybrid-electric, or even electric. Everything is remote controlled, even the stereo, which doesn’t just have two speakers, but can have up to seven along with a dedicated subwoofer. Television comes to us through either a satellite dish or via cable. And news can come to us live from anywhere in the world instantaneously. Not to mention the Internet. And music? I can carry my entire music library around with me on an MP3 player the size of a postage stamp as well as carry my entire library of books around on a handheld device. Movies can be watched over the internet. And we went from splitting the atom to shooting particles around a 17-mile tunnel. And you can heat a cup of water for tea in seconds.
So for me, the future is now.