On September 23, 1962, following the success of The Flintstones, Hanna-Barbera’s animated sitcom The Jetsons premiered as one of the first color television programs on ABC. Hard to believe, but only 24 “classic” episodes were made at that time — another 50+ episodes were later created in the 1980s.
The Creation of “The Jetsons” – From Part 5 of Joseph Barbera’s 7-part interview
When the network came in and said, “You want to do another show.” It’s not particularly brainy to say, “Well, with stone age [The Flintstones] here, let’s go into the future there.” So we started on that basis. And what I did was I created a living quarters that were based actually on the remnants of the 1939 New York World’s Fair. And there’s still a couple of those buildings left on the way in from the airport. Circular buildings up on a taff. So I converted those to apartments with hydraulic lifts in case the smog was up there, you would just lift the apartment above. What I was doing looking into the future. This is what we can do in the future. Now the same thing applied to parking. Parking that’s a problem of the future. A problem right now. So in that particular show, what we did in parking for The Jetsons, when he came into a stop, and pressed button, his vehicle became a briefcase that he carried. Later on I converted where it became a box like a shoe box that fitted into a slot like a lsafety deposit box. Here’s my parking space right here. So the idea was to make life easier and smoother and more interesting. His job was to simply go in in the morning and sit down and press one button. Anything easier than that? … That’s future living — parking, and buying clothes. Like the way I had it in The Jetsons is you stand behind the board, and you flash the clothes on the screen below you. Well you can see your dress before you buy it or your suit, or something like that. And you don’t have to try it on even or put it on. I had the sky crowded with vehicles just like it is today, except there was long lines. And they pick up on this because there’s a highway with no crowd on it, and you cut over there and in two seconds, they gridlock again. So that’s about the way I handled that stuff.
Joseph Barbera discussed his start as a young animator at the Van Beuren Studios in New York, before his move to California and MGM’s cartoon studio. He recalled working for executive Fred Quimby, and his eventual partnership with William Hanna at MGM. This collaboration with Hanna ultimately led to their own cartoon production company, and Barbera shared many stories about the creation of some of their more memorable characters and shows including: Tom and Jerry, Quick Draw McGraw, Yogi Bear, The Flintstones, Top Cat, The Jetsons, and The Smurfs. The Archive of American Television interview was conducted in 1997 by Leonard Maltin and Sunny Parich.