How “TiVo” Came To Be

As we continue our TiVo retrospective, including their mysterious technological origins and 20th anniversary of shipping the first DVR, I thought it’d be fun to surface an ancient PVRBlog post featuring Michael Cronan, the guy who created the “TiVo” name and mascot. Quite a few fascinating nuggets to be had, including the company’s original intent to power the smart home (before there was such a thing!) and a reminder that “Vox” isn’t actually new to the TiVo lexicon.

It was initially a “smart house” concept; a robust disc drive that would control features and functions in the home, including entertainment. I thought that the entertainment component would be the popular part of the offering, the part that was the newest, most amazing idea. Others thought so as well. When they called me in officially a few months later to start work on the identity, it was all about TV.

It’s interesting that of all the names we developed, TiVo was the ninth name we presented. It was always a favorite with me. There were names that were seriously considered, but in retrospect definitely not as good as TiVo. One was “Bongo”; at one point the team was considering that the thumbs up and down buttons on the remote might be different sizes for tactile differentiation so the notion of Bongo drums came up. “Lasso” was another candidate, it referred to capturing what you want to watch when you want to watch it.

The winning answer was we were naming the next TV. I thought it should be as close as possible to what people would find familiar so it must contain T and V. I started looking at letter combinations and pretty quickly settled on TiVo. I also liked that “i” and “o” were a part of the name from the “in and out” engineering acronym. Additionally I thought “vo” had a nice connection to “vox” and “voce” from the latin for vocal sound and Italian for voice, vote and vow are part of the same root words. In a way, every selection one makes with TiVo is a kind of vote. It was all beginning to make some sense. We created a beginning lexicon of TiVo expressions to help create what we anticipated would be a TiVo culture. One of the expressions was “TiVolution”.

5 thoughts on “How “TiVo” Came To Be”

  1. Are local cable company indicated on the May 1st price increase letter and rate sheet that the new Multiroom offering will be Tivo. They currently roll out Arris DVR’s running the MOXI interface which has the ability to record 6 shows at once, and it feeds “media players” via moca.

    The new price sheet shows 3 Tivo offerings. The main unit, which apparently comes with a voice remote and 6 recording capability ($21.95 a month). A Tivo mini, which requires the main unit ($5.95 a month). Then another Tivo box which has the Tivo advanced guide and apps (including Netflix, HBOGo, etc..) but no DVR ($9.95 a month).

    So in equipment fees if I were to get our 3 TV household switched from DirecTV to the local cable company, its $33.85 alone. Internet service via a DOCSIS 3.0/3.1 modem is required which is ok because I have that already since theres no other reasonable competition.

    The company is Service Electric Cablevision, which is one of the first cable companies in the nation and goes back to the early 1960’s. They have no information on the website yet, just a very small blurb in the pricing update mailer. Hoping to see some screenshots and how to videos soon.

  2. For about $850, you could get a TiVo Bolt Vox 1 TB with an All In plan, and then the minis would be $180 each. There may be better deals that come around periodically, but that’s the base price if you purchase vs rent. Renting at $34 per month would be about a 36 month break even point.

    That doesn’t factor the potential cost of the cable card rental you’d need for your purchased unit. That could be anywhere from $3 to $10 additional per month for your purchased TiVo unit, depending on your provider.

  3. A TiVo purchase also leave you with some residual value. Some providers have brought their VOD into TiVo rentals. Don’t know if Service Electric Cablevision is one – but that’d be a consideration, if so. Another factor would be warranty over those 36 months. Cableco would replace a broken rental. If a purchased Lifetimed TiVo hard drive, power supply, etc burns out beyond warranty period, you’re on your own.

  4. I always wondered why it was pronounced “Te-Vo” instead of “Ty-Vo.” I think I mispronounced it for almost a year, before I finally saw a commercial for it. It seems TeVo would have been a better choice. Linking the letters “i” and “o” to input / output seems like a bit of a stretch.

    But I guess it worked out for them!

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