Dumb things about the 1960s

Predictions About the Future

In the 60s there were many television shows based on visions of the future, including Star Trek and the Jetsons. I admit that Star Trek actually did a pretty good job at inventing devices before their time although I am still waiting for the transporter. Probably because of the technological advances spearheaded by the space race, there was an inordinate amount of time spent imagining what technology would offer us forty years hence in the new millennium. All of us kids calculated how old we would be in the year 2000 – horrifyingly ancient ages like 39 and 40. Some of the less than accurate predictions included:

• Houses will be mostly self maintaining and anything the house can’t do itself is handled by the household robot. I guess maybe because it was built before the 1960s my house is showing no inclination to paint its own walls, and my robot is definitely AWOL.

• Our work week will reduce to 20 hours because computers will handle most of the tasks and our office will be paperless. We all know how well that worked out. I think there was a Twilight Zone episode that was much more prescient, where people are enslaved to computers. And HAL was pretty close to the truth of life in 2001.

• By 1980, 25% of all money spent on apparel will be for paper clothes. This was predicted in 1966 when the paper dress was invented. I never had a paper dress because the “one size fits all” wasn’t my size. It wasn’t actually paper like the kind of paper you write on, but more like a J-Cloth with a psychedelic pattern. I guess the vision was that we would be wearing our paper finery while going out on the town in our flying cars.


Apparently there are now 38 different flavours of Tang, which is quite disconcerting. They are welcome to keep trying, but I can’t believe that even one of 1,000 flavours would actually taste good. The brand name came from ‘tangerine’ which was an optimistic approximation of the original flavour. Tang came on the market in 1959 but it really took off, so to speak, when it became the beverage of choice on the Gemini space missions starting in 1962. This doomed us all to a few years of Tang, Tang and more Tang. However, the following facts are the true measure of how subversive Tang is:

• When dishwashers became a standard kitchen appliance in the late 1960s, creative house wives discovered that Tang could be used instead of dishwasher detergent. Although Kraft didn’t market it for that purpose, they did concede that the citric acid was an effective cleaning agent.

• In an attempt to get addicts not to misuse their Methadone, some addiction management services in Philadelphia decided to mix it with Tang. They reasoned that no one would dare inject Tang into their veins. Turns out they would.

• Tang is part of the reason we aren’t allowed to bring liquids onto planes. It was a component of the liquid explosive intended for use on the 2006 airline terrorism plot, along with hydrogen peroxide and Hexamine, which undoubtably improved the taste.