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”.