Hanna-Barbera Studios had great success with the stoneage Flintstones primetime animated series and decided to try something new. The Jetsons was set 100 years hence in the ultra futuristic, sky high OrbitCity. The original series ran on ABC between September 23, 1962 and March 3, 1963 with a total of 24 episodes. The family lived in Skypad Apartments and the show utilized a multitude of sophisticated gadgets. Voice actors included George O’Hanlon as George Jetson, Penny Singleton as wife and mother Jane, Daws Butler as Son Elroy, Janet Waldo as daughter Judy, Don Messick as Astro the dog, Jean Vander Pyl as the maid Rosie the robot and Mel Blanc as George’s boss Cosmo Spacely.
George Jetson works 10 minutes a day and 3 days a week for his short, tyrannical boss named Mr. Cosmo Spacely, owner of the company Spacely Space Sprockets. As found in Season 2, Episode 23, A Jetson Christmas Carol, George Jetson and Cosmo Spacely have been friends since their childhood. Typical episodes involve Spacely firing, rehiring, promoting and demoting Jetson. Spacely has a competitor, H. G. Cogswell, owner of the rival company Cogswell's Cosmic Cogs. The Jetson family live in Skypad Apartments in Orbit City, where all homes and businesses are raised high above the ground on adjustable columns in the Googie style, reflective of Seattle's Space Needle and the Theme Building of the Los Angeles International Airport. George commutes to work in an aerocar that resembles a flying saucer with a transparent bubble top. Daily life is characterized as being comically leisurely because of the incredible sophistication and number of labor saving devices, which occasionally break down with humorous results. George's work day consists of pressing a single computer button. Despite this, characters often complain of exhausting hard labor and difficulties of living with the remaining inconveniences.
Other Jetson family members include Jane Jetson, the wife and homemaker; teenage daughter Judy; and genius preteen son Elroy. Housekeeping is seen to by a robot maid, Rosie. She only appears in two episodes of the original 1960s show, excluding her appearance in the closing credits, but makes many appearances on the 1980s show.
The family dog Astro can mumble and say his words beginning with R's. Astro's catch phrases are "Ruh-roh!" (now a meme in informal conversation by many), "Right, Reorge!", and "Rats Rall Right Reorge!" Later Hanna-Barbera cartoon dogs including Scooby-Doo and Muttley would use speech as well; voice actor Don Messick played all three.
A new series of cartoons came out between 1985 and 1987. Two TV movies were released: The Jetsons Meet The Flintstones in 1987 and Rockin’ with Judy Jetson in 1988. Universal released Jetsons: The Movie animated feature film July 6, 1990.
In the first episode of the '80s show, an alien named Orbitty joined the family after Elroy discovered him on a field trip to an asteroid. Orbitty speaks in his own garbled dialect, has coil springs for legs, and changes colors according to his mood.
The Jetsons had quite a career in comic books, with publishers including Gold Key #1-36 January 1963-October 1970, Charlton #1-20 November 1970-December 1973, Harvey Vol 2 #1-5 September 1992-November 1993, Archie #1-17 September 1995-August 1996 and DC The Flintstones and the Jetsons #1-21 August 1997-April 1999.
The August 1, 2004 issue of TV Guide lists George Jetson fourth in a list of the 25 greatest sci-fi legends.