Celebrating 25 Years of TiVo: Party Like It’s 1999! 

TiVo 25th Anniversay
March 26, 2024 Xperi

As time and television march forward, we mark a quarter century of one of the most revolutionary forces in digital entertainment — TiVo! Join us as we journey through our illustrious history and celebrate our unique place in American pop culture with comments by some TiVo “OGs” who were there at the very beginning! 

Inception (1999)  

Founded by tech visionaries Jim Barton and Mike Ramsay, TiVo introduced the first digital video recorder (DVR) allowing users to record, pause live TV, and fast forward.  

Fun Fact: The T and V in TiVo stand for “TV” and the i and o stand for “in and out.” 

The Blue Moon launch (1999) 

The inaugural TiVo device shipped out to paying customers on March 31, 1999, a rare Blue Moon, so the first TiVo was nicknamed “The Blue Moon.” 

“We worked around the clock — all-nighters, weekends and on that second to last day in March we all signed the first DVR box as it rolled off the line,” recalls Stephen Mack, senior director of operations, who started working at TiVo on March 2, 1999.    

Technological recognition (2001) 

TiVo received its first Technology and Engineering Emmy for its groundbreaking contribution to the TV viewing experience — one of our seven Emmy awards for technological innovations so far. 

Technological advances (2010-2020) 

Every year, TiVo continued to innovate, introducing features like multi-room viewing, personalized recommendations, international video metadata, conversational user interfaces and the TiVo Stream 4K. 

“Great companies have great progressions. We went from capturing analog video to digital video to high-definition video, then moving from the DVR to centralized storage where anyone can watch anything, anywhere at any time,” said Alan Moscowitz, director of software development who has worked at TiVo since 1997. “It’s a really incredible journey!” 

Cultural impact (1999-present) 

As TiVo devices became a staple in more and more American homes, it also became ingrained in pop culture — mentioned in talk shows, films, TV and popular music — showcasing its rising influence. 

TV hosts like David Letterman and Ellen DeGeneres have mentioned TiVo on air, in fact, a guest told Ellen that “His and her TiVos were the secret to a happy marriage.” Radio superstar Howard Stern said TiVo “changed the way” he watched television. 

“We had a team that would fly out to celebrities’ homes and install the unit for free,” said Stephen Mack. “The first one that paid off was Howard Stern. One of Howard’s team members asked, ‘Hey, did you try that TiVo thing?’ and Howard started gushing about the product and I watched that afternoon as the orders began going up, up, up and our website crashed due to the volume of people ordering.” 

Weird Al Yankovic mentioned TiVo in his 2003 hit, “Couch Potato.” TiVo also appeared in the lyrics to “Streets is Watchin’” by Lil Wayne, “Ego” by rapper Jay Critch, “Rewind That” by Toni Braxton, “I Wanna Rock” by Snoop Dogg, “Rise Above” by Pharrell Williams and “DJ Got Us Falling in Love” by Usher — to name a few! 

TiVo is also referenced in episodes of “Saturday Night Live,” The Simpsons,” “How I Met Your Mother,” “Friends,” “The Office,” “30 Rock,” and “South Park.” In 2007, there was “The TiVo Guy” episode of “Curb Your Enthusiasm” which was “Pretty pretty pretty good…” 

TiVo on the big screen   

TiVo pops up in dialogue in films like “Click,” “War of the Worlds,” “Due Date,” “Crazy Stupid Love,” “Tropic Thunder” and “Blades of Glory.”  

Sports history (2004) 

Consumers really took advantage of TiVo’s revolutionary technology when Janet Jackson had her infamous wardrobe malfunction during the 2004 Super Bowl halftime show. It became THE most recorded, watched and replayed video in TiVo history.  

Current landscape (TiVo Today) 

TiVo’s user interface is now accessible on smart TVs and in cars, offering consumers added convenience and advertisers many new opportunities. The brand continues to shape the entertainment landscape, hinting at more innovations and business connections in the future. 

“We believe that there are great opportunities ahead to continue to bring all entertainment together so consumers can find, watch and enjoy the content they’re looking for wherever they want,” said Matt Milne, chief revenue officer. 

TiVo is you 

We salute your hard work in making TiVo’s first 25 years such a rousing success and anticipate more advancements as we continue together during the next 25 years.