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Old 03-27-2012, 06:39 PM   #1
TiVoStephen
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Happy birthday, TiVo! Blue Moon XIII

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.
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Last edited by TiVoStephen : 03-27-2012 at 07:32 PM.
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Old 03-27-2012, 06:47 PM   #2
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Neat to get a fresh version of the great story!
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Old 03-27-2012, 06:52 PM   #3
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13 more years, guys and gals!
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Old 03-27-2012, 07:06 PM   #4
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Yay!
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Old 03-27-2012, 07:11 PM   #5
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And where could we get those cool lunch boxes? Actually a couple or so, I have a few kids who would just love one.
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Old 03-27-2012, 07:11 PM   #6
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Congratulations! Enjoy the day off!
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Old 03-27-2012, 07:36 PM   #7
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And where could we get those cool lunch boxes? Actually a couple or so, I have a few kids who would just love one.
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.
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Old 03-27-2012, 09:55 PM   #8
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pretty cool story. Sounds like the other guys posted to in past years. Anyone have links to those?
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Old 03-27-2012, 11:38 PM   #9
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2002
2003
2004
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2007
2009
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couldn't find the rest
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Old 03-27-2012, 11:49 PM   #10
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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.
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Old 03-28-2012, 12:48 AM   #11
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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.
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Old 03-28-2012, 01:22 AM   #12
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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).
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Old 03-28-2012, 08:38 AM   #13
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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).
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Old 03-28-2012, 09:39 AM   #14
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Happy Blue Moon, TiVo!!

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.

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!
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Old 03-28-2012, 11:43 AM   #15
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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.
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Old 03-28-2012, 05:55 PM   #16
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Wow you look so young in that picture.

Dan
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Old 03-28-2012, 06:03 PM   #17
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Awesome having you post!
Couldn't agree more (And Jerry and Margaret when they do too)

Congrats!
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Old 03-28-2012, 06:16 PM   #18
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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.
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.
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Old 03-28-2012, 06:19 PM   #19
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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.
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Old 03-28-2012, 07:11 PM   #20
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Wow you look so young in that picture.

Dan
I thought it was Dana Carvey. :-)
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Old 03-28-2012, 08:05 PM   #21
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Congrats guys. 13 years ago you guys changed how I watch TV and I can never go back.
My wife gave me our first TiVo for Father's Day in 2000 and I could not agree more that it change how we watched TV. Thankful every day for still having a TiVo in the house!

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Old 03-28-2012, 08:20 PM   #22
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The list of Blue Moon Employees isn't getting any bigger.
We're not getting any younger either...
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Old 03-28-2012, 08:54 PM   #23
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The hairline difference becomes apparent over a decade+ doesn't it! (like I have any room to talk)
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Old 03-28-2012, 09:51 PM   #24
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Isn't this story getting more elaborate every year?


Gee.. With all those all nighters, I hope you had something to record the TV you missed while working... oh wait......
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Old 03-29-2012, 01:11 AM   #25
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I suppose TiVo dogfooded TiVo by TiVo-ing all the TV they missed while working on TiVo.
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Old 03-29-2012, 01:31 AM   #26
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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.
If they'd let you schedule a recording to start late you could have a recording of 60 Minutes that is actually labeled "60 Minutes".
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Old 03-29-2012, 05:49 AM   #27
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In December of 2000 one of my VCRs died. I thought "Merry effing XMas" to myself and drove down to Circuit City. While looking over the display I saw this funny-looking silver Sony (SVR-2000) box but I couldn't figure out how where the tape went.

When the salesman finally stopped laughing he explained the concept of a DVR to me. It was pretty pricey but I decided to give it a try. A week later I bought lifetime for it, and I bought another one in January.
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Old 03-29-2012, 06:28 AM   #28
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In December of 2000 one of my VCRs died. I thought "Merry effing XMas" to myself and drove down to Circuit City. While looking over the display I saw this funny-looking silver Sony (SVR-2000) box but I couldn't figure out how where the tape went.

When the salesman finally stopped laughing he explained the concept of a DVR to me. It was pretty pricey but I decided to give it a try. A week later I bought lifetime for it, and I bought another one in January.
If one of my VCRs dies, I'm not cheated out of the stuff I recorded on it.
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Old 03-29-2012, 07:50 AM   #29
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Bill Engvall on Tivo (I wish I could find the the clip, but I guess no one has put it on youtube yet).

"I was showing my wife the Tivo, how it could pause live sports, she said And they just wait for you? Yeah, but if I wait too long I bet a call from the comissioner. Here's your sign"
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Old 03-29-2012, 09:35 AM   #30
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If one of my VCRs dies, I'm not cheated out of the stuff I recorded on it.
And that's a reason to stick with VCRs?

I've bought five TiVos since 2002. Not one has died and gone belly-up. I'm now using a four tuner Elite (in addition to two still active S3s). Imagine trying to pull off four tuner simultaneous recording on a VCR.

When people talk about what they would grab in a fire, I tell 'em my TiVo in one hand and my dog in the other. My wife can fend for herself.

And I'm only halfway joking.

Thank you TiVo people!
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