Sunday 20 January 2019

TiVo (1999)

Introduced January 1999

It’s easy to forget that recording TV shows 20 years ago was a major hassle for most people. VHS recorders could typically record just three to five hours in a strictly linear fashion. If you wanted to record from cable or a satellite box then it was tricky, and in any case if the show was running late for any reason you would miss it at least part of it. You also couldn’t watch something that you had already recorded while you were recording something else.

TiVo Roamio DVR with characteristic remote controller

The introduction of TiVo in 1999 helped to change all that. Ditching the tape, the TiVo recorded on a hard disk which could initially store 35 hours of programming, but this quickly increased. You record and play back at the same time, pause live TV and the integrated Electronic Program Guide (EPG) made it much easier to find shows in listings and could help to prevent missed recordings. Some models integrated satellite or cable receivers too, an essential modern feature for many.

Twenty years on and time shifting and binge watching whole recorded series has become pretty commonplace, and although online services such as Netflix are eating into traditional broadcasting’s market share, TiVo’s fifth- and sixth-generation boxes now support those too, along with up to six tuners and 3 terabytes of storage. Would you want to try doing the same thing with a VHS VCR? Probably not...

Image credit: TiVo

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