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Happy birthday, TiVo! Blue Moon XIII

Discussion in 'TiVo Coffee House - TiVo Discussion' started by TiVoStephen, Mar 27, 2012.

  1. TiVoStephen

    TiVoStephen formerly TiVoOpsMgr

    Jun 27, 2000
    Hello everyone!

    This Friday, March 30, 2012, will be a vacation day for TiVo employees. Why? Because it's Blue Moon Day! The fourteenth Blue Moon day, in fact: Thirteen years since March 26, 1999, when the world's first DVR shipped out to paying customers.

    I started here at TiVo Inc. on March 2, 1999. Everyone was running around like crazy, because just a day before, TiVo co-founder and then-CEO Mike Ramsay had just given a speech to the whole company. At CES earlier that year we had promised that we would ship by the end of Q1 of 1999. A month was left, and Mike -- and everyone -- wanted very much to keep that promise.

    Everyone who was there looked around the room at each other. They were all thinking the same thing: We're not ready. The software wasn't ready. The manufacturing process wasn't ready. The service wasn't ready. The Showcase team wasn't ready. The customer support team wasn't ready. We had no way to fulfill orders. We had no way to ship the product.

    Sure, many of those things were close. I took home my first prototype box that same week. And I was blown away. Now, 13 years later, we take these things for granted, but at the time it was a miraculous improvement over my old VCR. I so clearly remember being stunned at the ability to pause live TV, to set up a Season Pass recording for Sessions at West 54th on PBS and The X-Files on Fox and 120 Minutes on MTV.

    But even though we were close to being ready, there was a lot of work left to be done. And less than a month left to finish everything.

    Someone noticed that March of 1999 was one of those rare months with two full moons. And so the entire company banded together under Project Blue Moon, with all hands on deck to get everything finished and ready to ship so that we would be the world's first DVR. (We especially wanted to beat our arch-rival that was nearly ready to ship their own DVR.)

    It was an insane month. I still remember all the all-nighters. The version of the TiVo software I tested had no Live Guide. One smart engineer added that in a feverish 48 hour session, one of the last major features to make it in to 1.0.2. All of our teams were small at the time, including the QE team. So everyone in the company (including the receptionist) was part of a team created to test different parts of the product, and most of those teams met each morning to talk about how it was going. And when I say each morning, I mean every single morning -- including weekends. Some employees slept on couches at our office. I remember seeing a pair of engineers hand off code to each other as they took turns napping in the middle of the night. Friends and family were forgotten.

    But at the end, thanks to an enormous amount of hard work, we made it. All of us gathered up at the end of the month and we drove down to our manufacturing plant (a local contract manufacturing firm) to watch the first real units roll off the line. We were all dressed in blue lab coats. The first box to roll through, we grabbed it, and everyone signed the carton. That box still sits in a display case near our CEO Tom Roger's desk. (Tom was on TiVo's board of directors at the time, and got one of the units built on the very first day of production.)

    And not long after, we had another all-hands meeting. Mike Ramsay gave another emotional speech, thanking everyone for their hard work, and saying he was chaining up the building to give everyone a needed break (well, not the customer support team). At that time, Mike declared that Blue Moon Day was a national holiday, and that the last Friday in March would always be a day off for TiVo employees.

    And so, this Friday, after I drop my kids off at school, I will think about all of the friends I made in that crazy first month, many of whom are still working with me here today, thirteen years later. And I will toast the memory of how the world's first DVR was born.

    Today we had a special lunch here at our Alviso HQ. Everyone is taking home a TiVo lunch box and thermos to celebrate Blue Moon day.


    I will never forget being part of that original Blue Moon. Many of you here on the forum remember Richard Bullwinkle, who was the first TiVo Evangelist, and was the first to post this annual reminiscence here. After Richard, Bob Pony, one of TiVo's very first employees, took up the task. And now it's my turn. Here's a picture of Richard and me, suffering from far too little sleep, but enjoying the glow of being part of something magical.


    TiVo is still an amazing place to work, and we still work hard to bring our customers the best possible DVR and to keep on reinventing the best way to watch TV. I'm proud of what we accomplished then, and what we have accomplished since, and what we will accomplish in the future.

    And we could not have done any of it without your support.

    Thank you.
  2. MichaelK

    MichaelK New Member

    Jan 10, 2002
    Neat to get a fresh version of the great story!
  3. BigJimOutlaw

    BigJimOutlaw Active Member

    Mar 21, 2004
    13 more years, guys and gals!
  4. daveak

    daveak Series 3 Novice

    Mar 23, 2009
  5. daveak

    daveak Series 3 Novice

    Mar 23, 2009
    And where could we get those cool lunch boxes? Actually a couple or so, I have a few kids who would just love one.
  6. Jimbo713

    Jimbo713 CreaTiVoty!

    Dec 25, 2001
    Congratulations! Enjoy the day off!
  7. TiVoStephen

    TiVoStephen formerly TiVoOpsMgr

    Jun 27, 2000
    This particular one is for employees only, but we've sold lunch boxes from the TiVo Store in the past. I just checked and it doesn't look like we offer it currently (sorry!). But I'll chat with the merchandise team and see if they have any plans to offer it again.
  8. tomm1079

    tomm1079 New Member

    May 10, 2005
    pretty cool story. Sounds like the other guys posted to in past years. Anyone have links to those?
  9. cherry ghost

    cherry ghost Active Member

    Sep 13, 2005
  10. ravemonger

    ravemonger New Member

    Feb 27, 2002
    Congrats guys. 13 years ago you guys changed how I watch TV and I can never go back. Now to call up some friends and see if they are willing to part with their lunchbox. :D
  11. Worf

    Worf Active Member

    Sep 15, 2000
    Yeah, it's hard to imagine that 13 years ago the concept of a hard drive recorder was reserved for people who had super-fast PCs (and they STILL dropped a frame now and again) and more money than anything to afford capture cards and such. While the rest of us were mucking around with VHS.

    Then TiVo came about, and while it wasn't the friendliest install, once you had it all set up, it was wonderful.

    These days, it's so commonplace that we take it for granted that it was only really just a decade ago that TiVo (and ReplayTV) made TV so convenient. Trick plays, watching midway through the recording, instant replay, pausing... and a scheduling program that pretty much is top-notch.

    Hell, today my cable DVR still can't record reliably (?!?!?!), the scheduling system is a mess (if it's missed, you better manually schedule a new one), season passes are ... nonexistent (well, there's "record season" which records EVERYTHING. Yikes). It's been 13 years and the cable DVR "competition" still can't get it right (and I'm forced to use it as they rendered my TiVos useless with their non-CableCARD supplying analog-channel cutting ways).

    Hell, at least I keep TiVo around to tell me what to record, but man it's a pain.

    And hell, the TiVo SD UI is still better than the cable box. It may not be the best, but it's oddly functional and useful.
  12. aadam101

    aadam101 Tell me a joke

    Jul 14, 2002
    I remember my first time learning about Tivo. It was in a magazine sometimes in 1999. I think it was Entertainment Weekly. They did a side by side comparison of Tivo and ReplayTV. My first impression was that I absolutely had to have a ReplayTV because of it's ability to cut out commercials. The price point was a bit more than my 17 year old self was ready to pay so I waited.

    Then in the middle of the night a few months later I saw a Tivo infomercial. It was the most amazing thing I had ever seen. I purchased my first Philips 14 hour unit a short time later for $299. I've have my gripes with the product every now and then but it still the coolest device in my house (and yes, I have an iPad).
  13. larrs

    larrs Movie Fan-Addict

    May 2, 2005
    Awesome having you post! We don't hear from you enough any more.

    I bought my first Tivo in '99 and my wife and daughter (who was 12 at the time) will still tell anyone that asks that it was the one A/V item we ever bought that literally changed our life (in a good way).
  14. steve614

    steve614 what ru lookin at?

    May 1, 2006
    TiVo saved my sanity.
    For years, I had been recording TV with a couple of VCRs, costing me plenty in blank tapes and the time it took to manage all that.

    TiVo made watching TV so much easier for me that I can't imagine life without it now.
    It was truly revolutionary TiVo-lutioinary. :p

    I don't use my S2 540 that much any more, but after 6+ years it's still chugging along, dedicated to getting my favorite video podcasts (and keeping my MSD intact).
    My 2 TivoHD's are the work horses. I don't know what I'd do without them.

    Thanks, TiVo!
  15. unitron

    unitron Active Member

    Apr 28, 2006
    Now if only you'd been based on the East Coast you'd have been aware of, and made provision for, the 60 Minutes problem.
  16. Dan203

    Dan203 Super Moderator TCF Club

    Apr 17, 2000
    Wow you look so young in that picture. :)

  17. SullyND

    SullyND L:17-10 TCF Club

    Dec 30, 2004
    Couldn't agree more (And Jerry and Margaret when they do too)

  18. lessd

    lessd Active Member

    Jan 23, 2005
    I did by setting a manual record from 7PM to 9PM every Sunday, and any other program I want after that (on CBS) I just add an extra hour. You can't just add an extra hour to 60 minutes because at times CBS does change the time to say 7:30PM and I want my two tuners available at 9pm.
  19. TiVoJerry

    TiVoJerry 00-16 TiVo Employee

    Jul 26, 2005
    I'm definitely glad to see Stephen post this new story as I would've just reposted what TiVoPony put up in the past. Unfortunately I only started working here in October 2000 so I missed out on all the initial fun and development but got to benefit from working with many of the original employees. The list of Blue Moon Employees isn't getting any bigger.:(
  20. magnus

    magnus Tivo User

    Nov 12, 2004
    I thought it was Dana Carvey. :)

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