What a rip-off: where's my flying car?
Perusing a column from the 1985 edition of the Pioneer Journal, it dawned on me: yeah, where the heck are the cocktail-serving, foot-rubbing, oil-changing, tooth-brushing robots we were all promised? Where is that flying car we all expected around the year 2000?
The columnist in 1985 surmised by the year 2010, all of these things would be standard issue. We would no longer cook our own meals, do our own chores or even show up for our own jobs. We'd have obedient technologically advanced robots to do it all for us.
And I was sure by now I'd be carted around in a flying vehicle that I only needed to use my brain power to steer.
What a gyp.
Now that I've had a chance to see many columnists fail so miserably at predicting the luxurious devices of the future, I thought I need not add another column of bold predictions to that mix. Instead, I'll look back at some of the devices we had in 1985 that made our life better then, but will soon be forgotten to history.
Apple IIc computers. If you had a Commodore 64, that counts too. I remember being in one of the first classes in my middle school to have an actual computer (yes, just one) in the classroom. This was mostly because teachers and administrators had nearly no idea what they were supposed to do with these newfangled devices. A friend of mine and I were actually the first ones to figure them out, which led to us teaching our teacher why they were useful. In the meantime, they just had us all play "Oregon Trail" on it, which was fun, but one can only die of dysentery so many times before the charm wears off. Your average Apple IIc computer had about 1/1,000th the computing power of an iPod today, but they were revolutionary back then.
VCRs. For the kids, VCRs, or video cassette recorders, were bulky machines you'd set your TVs on top of that hooked up to the TV and stored via magnetic tape your TV shows. You could fit a whopping two hours on one tape, or if you were willing to sacrifice quality, up to 6 hours. If you are too young to remember VCR tapes, this is why your parents call recording something on Tivo or your DVR "taping" it. At one point, there was actual tape involved in the process.
Cassette tapes. Much like VCR tapes, these were miniature (by those days' standards) versions of the VCR tape, and they only held audio recordings. These were like CDs, but of poorer quality, and it took about 10 minutes to locate the beginning of song number four, as opposed to one second with CDs. If you're too young to remember cassette tapes, this is how your parents fell in love: via the "mix tape." Go Google it.
Thigh Master. The ditsy one from "Three's Company" decided America's hamstrings were too darn flabby, so she invented a device to pop those hamstrings into shape by jerking them back and forth against a resistance device. This is the reason no one in America has flabby thighs anymore.
Yugos. These cars were built to last -- well, to last until 1988 or so -- and were cheap enough that they were marketed to people who usually bought used cars. For the price of a used car, you could own a new one that would never be sold as used -- mostly because it would never last that long.
Board games. Classics like Chutes and Ladders, the game of Life, Monopoly, Yahtzee, etc. were how families spent time together. They were like analog versions of Life, Monopoly and Yahtzee people now play on their mobile devices, only you didn't need a microscope or a fully charged battery to play them. And they never "crashed."
"Cannonball Run" movies. You heard me, I said "movies" -- plural. Back before we had 300 channels of digital television and endless opportunities for entertainment, we had "Cannonball Run" movies, where Burt Reynolds (before he was creepy and then cool again) and Dom DeLuise would drive around and generally be mischievous. It's hard to explain. It was supposed to be funny at the time -- and I think it was -- although I'd have a hard time convincing someone of that now.
There we go. There are seven things that could have been lost to history, but now are forever in the archives of the Pioneer Journal, and therefore immortal. At least until the robots arrive, then turn on us and outlaw the reading of newspapers.