An Ode to TiVo

The wheel. The printing press. The lightbulb. The telephone.


All go down as some of the greatest inventions of all time.

I don’t remember when exactly my family got TiVo, but I remembered it changed the game in our house.

Recording shows, forwarding, rewinding, pausing… all with the simple click of a button.

It was so simple, yet so revolutionary.

No longer were we slaves to the programming schedules – we could watch our shows when WE wanted to watch them without having to use a clunky VCR.

And so much of it was so perfectly crafted.

The remote:

Perfectly ergonomic.

Squishy buttons.

Buttons for forwarding, rewinding, recording, liking/disliking shows, 30-second skip ahead, SLOW-MO.

I can’t tell you the last TV service I had that offered a slow-mo button that worked as well as this – and that was 20 years ago!

The countless hours my family spent watching the scenes from the next episode of LOST in slow-mo to see what kind of details we could pick out.

All of the functions worked so well.

Forwarding was so quick and painless.

Nowadays when I use my Amazon FireStick, the system almost crashes when I try to forward ahead. It’s painfully slow – and you don’t get a preview of where you’re at with the forward, so a lot of times you jump pass the end of the commercials, miss part of the show, and then have to rewind (which again takes forever).

And TiVo’s record button!

One click. ONE CLICK.

Now if I want to record a show I have to click the show, scroll over, click another option, click record. There’s like 5 steps.

Maybe it’s easier for you on your device, but there’s no denying that TiVo absolutely streamlined that shit.

And even better…

The sounds:

Maybe it’s nostalgia, but these sounds just do something to me.

The ba-doop sound of forwarding ahead is engrained in my mind, three ba-doops because we’re fast-forwarding at 3x speed now as we approach light speed.

And then there was the pleasant chime when you click to record your favorite show. It’s as if TiVo was singing to you.

And then there was the loud BUM drum when you clicked on something that TiVo didn’t like. Stopped you in your tracks, but not in a mean way.

The TV systems today cannot possibly match this.

My FireStick just kind of has this snapping-click sound – it has not heart to it.

TiVo made clicking buttons FUN.

The menus:

This example doesn’t look too different from my family’s recordings.

SportsCenter, Lost, Desperate Housewives, Survivor.

Early 2000s shows that were can’t miss.

We had all kinds of random movies at all times recorded on our TiVo too.

Favorites that you would go back and visit when you’re bored.

Off the top of my head we had things like Happy Gilmore (with about 30 minutes missing in the middle due to a thunderstorm) and UHF (an underrated Weird Al comedy).

I remember being so excited to see the little bright orange light on the box and you know that show you’ve been waiting for is recording.

And then there’s the panic… Oh, it’s Wednesday night and that orange light isn’t on. Did we forget to record LOST?! Who forgot to record LOST?! What are we going to do?!?

The panic fades though. You go back to TiVo’s menu, search LOST, and find when it’s playing next… one-click and bang. All is right in the world again.

The disappointment in Dad remains as now we have to wait another day to find out what’s in the hatch, but that’s OK. TiVo had our backs.

Those menus were so easy to navigate though and find exactly what you needed.

With that peaceful greenish-foggy background, and that friendly-looking little TiVo guy in the corner.

This was our peak as a society.

TiVo was so big that it even left its footprint on pop culture.

Who can forget Matthew McConaughey running though the jungle to get his client a TiVo in Tropic Thunder?

TiVo was a shooting star – beautiful, but short lived with all things considered.

The copycats came soon after, and TiVo was replaced by each providers own service. We moved on to DirecTV, and it was just never the same.

I remember those glory years though.

Sitting around the TV with the family watching a TV show we recorded the day before and joyfully skipping through commercials.

Going over to a friends house and being shocked and disappointed to see they were using the ugly Comcast OnDemand.

Returning home and twirling that TiVo remote in my hand, because I missed its touch.

TiVo helped raise me.

Which is kind of ridiculous to say, and I may be half-joking – but also not.

There are core memories in my life thanks to TiVo.

And while others may have forgotten how beautiful it was – I’ll never forget.

So thank you, TiVo.


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