In the Year 2000…

Throughout the decades of the Cold War, the Armed Forces Radio and Television Service (AFRTS) produced a vast library of programs for distribution to stations around the world. Service personnel heard popular and classical music, news, entertainment shows that originated on commercial radio, and many, many public service announcements. Tens of thousands of AFRTS audio disks now reside in the National Archives in Record Group 330: Records of the Office of the Secretary of Defense. Among these is The Year 2000, produced by Los Angeles CBS affiliate KNX in 1960.

The series consists of skits depicting life in the year 2000 plus interviews with experts in various fields. The predictions will seem familiar to anyone who has seen The Jetsons (which premiered two years later) – flying cars, robot maids, and telescreens. Although the experts are perhaps 80% wrong about the new millennium, their predictions are based in cutting-edge science of 1960, such as satellites, heart surgery, and the manufacture of new materials. Let’s take a look at a few of the predictions for the year of hanging chads and the Y2K panic – or you can take a listen yourself!

Too Optimistic

  • Our flying cars will take off and land vertically and reach 500 MPH. Own an economy model for $13,650!
  • A publicly-funded system of youth recreation centers will offer sports and mental health services.
  • We will grow new organs from DNA.
  • Automation will enable a three day work week, but don’t worry: we’ll still get paid as if we’re working five days.
  • Injections will enable us to need only four hours of sleep.
  • We will take low-orbit commercial flights. Travel from L.A. to Hawaii in only 30 minutes!

Too Pessimistic

  • In the predicted timeline, humans (specifically, the U.S. Air Force) will reach the moon in 1988. NASA beat this forecast by 19 years.
  • Americans will no longer live in houses due to a population explosion which resulted in a loss of free space. Thankfully untrue, although I do like the “Apartmansions” described in the program, which come with full services.
  • Computers will determine compatibility of couples for marriage. This one is outright dystopian!

Simply Weird

  • “Paper fabrics are here to stay!” Women’s fashions will include a slit skirt over pants and materials will include water-repellant, wrinkle-proof synthetic materials. The average woman will be a size 3 thanks to all that leisure time.
  • Walls will be made of hollow glass filled with colored water. We will change the color of our walls with but the press of a button.
  • Scientists will establish the summit of monkey mental performance by raising them as humans.
  • We will receive communications with extraterrestrial life via strange signals from Jupiter. Wait a second… super intelligent apes, signals from Jupiter… the scientists have successfully predicted 2001: A Space Odyssey!

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Cornog’s Robot, a product of downtime on the cyclotron, circa 1939, model unknown. [Photographer: Donald Cooksey]

Complete The Year 2000 Skits

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