A Must Read Oral History Of Tivo

Discussion in 'TiVo Coffee House - TiVo Discussion' started by Joe3, Apr 2, 2019.

  1. rpj22

    rpj22 Active Member

    Mar 26, 2016
    I used to work with a guy, in 70-71, who I think had one of the reel-to-reel models you mentioned. I recall him complaining that it didn't have a built-in timer and he had to jury rig an external timer. From searching, I'm guessing that he had the TCV-2010. Does that sound right?
  2. Rob Helmerichs

    Rob Helmerichs I am Groot! TCF Club

    Oct 17, 2000
    Richard Bullwinkle. Now that's a name I've not heard in a long time.
  3. Mikeguy

    Mikeguy Well-Known Member

    Jul 28, 2005
    Yep, depending on the VCR model, could be hardly "laborious" at all: at worst, inserting a tape and then doing the same as a TiVo manual recording; at best, the equivalent of setting a TiVo Guide-based recording or even faster using a VCR 1-press button.

    And an actual advantage to the VCR: having the removable tape (albeit, then having a stack of them in the closet, lol).
    PSU_Sudzi likes this.
  4. Rob Helmerichs

    Rob Helmerichs I am Groot! TCF Club

    Oct 17, 2000
    And then having to find the beginning of the show...especially when you had a bunch of shows on one tape. For the technology-impaired, it really was a hassle. It became a pre-internet meme that VCRs were so complicated, nobody could even figure out how to set the clock.

    There were an awful lot of people (I believe it was a substantial majority) who really did only use VCRs for rentals. The DVR truly was a quantum leap forward...one which I'm pretty sure most people haven't even caught up with yet.
  5. Mikeguy

    Mikeguy Well-Known Member

    Jul 28, 2005
    And just think of all those things you could do with the found fast-forward and rewind time!

    In later VCR years, Sony innovated and came out with its SmartFile system: you placed a self-adhesive label, which had an embedded chip-type technology, onto a VCR tape's spine, and it would record and then display on your TV the contents of the tape--the VCR also could fast-forward or rewind to a particular show, or a blank section. Pretty clever.
  6. Rob Helmerichs

    Rob Helmerichs I am Groot! TCF Club

    Oct 17, 2000
    I know for my part I never used a VCR for pure time-shifting...only when I wasn't going to be home. If I was home when a show was on, I watched it live because it was too much hassle to record it, then play it back. So TiVo really did change the way I watched TV; only then did I routinely wait until a show was over to watch it, or at least until it had been running for 15 minutes. And over time I grew less and less tied to when shows were actually on.

    I also found myself watching more TV, which could be considered a good or bad thing, because I could watch when I felt like it, and I could save shows until I felt like it. In theory I could have done the same thing with VCRs, but it would have been MUCH more of a hassle. To my mind, TiVo presented a much bigger leap from the VCR than the VCR did from live TV.
  7. BigJimOutlaw

    BigJimOutlaw Well-Known Member

    Mar 21, 2004
    Ferrari-shaped tape rewinders and food dehydrators. Amirite?

    By the time my house had VCR's they were manually programmable, so that wasn't too much of a hassle. But tape management kind of was. As a kid I didn't have an endless supply of tapes so there was always a certain "only keep what's special" management to it that forced me to watch casual things quickly so it could be recorded over many times. Even the early Tivos somewhat suffered from this (if using the best Analog quality).
  8. Wil

    Wil Unknown Member

    Sep 26, 2002
    There was a TCV-2000 series and yes, the model I had (a 2000D I think) required a crude external timer. These were very lossy "skip-field" recorders. By late 1971(?) Sony had improved on these models with EIAJII, but by then Sony had given up on the idea of these reel-to-reel recorders as being consumer and moved on to their first U-Matic VCRs, which they also eventually abandoned (consumer market) for Betamax. I stayed with Umatic for my home VCRs until there were really solid Industrial quality VHS VCRs available; the early consumer Betamaxes (and VHS) were awful and by the time Sony got it together, Betamax consumer was on tenuous life support. Beta sp OTOH was terrific for production and we used it for decades.

    My very first home library of movies was an almost complete set of Charlie Chans. I laboriously paused for commercials and tried to get the entire movie onto a single nominally 60 minute tape that actually ran approximately 63 minutes for some tape brands. I had an editing block (slot slanted for the helical tracks) and I used that to splice a few minutes of extra tape on the reel for the longer Chan series entries. Splices were terrible for the video heads, but I was a kid, see.
  9. PSU_Sudzi

    PSU_Sudzi Well-Known Member

    Jun 4, 2015
    Philly suburbs
    I guess I was ahead of my time. I used to record shows all the time while at work in the evenings and watch them when I got home or on the weekend.
  10. tomhorsley

    tomhorsley Well-Known Member

    Jul 22, 2010
    I never had any trouble using my VCR to skip commercials. I'd always record 1 show at a time, then watch it immediately, fast forwarding past the commercials, then reuse the tape for the next show. Skipping commercials was my primary use.
    kpeters59 and PSU_Sudzi like this.
  11. Dan203

    Dan203 Super Moderator Staff Member TCF Club

    Apr 17, 2000
    I never used a VCR at all. I bought my first TiVo because I thought it would be cool to be able to pause what I was watching for a few minutes while I went to the bathroom or made dinner. I never even really considered the recording capabilities. Only after I had one for a while did I realize how life changing the recording part was. Wasn't too long after that before I had a stack of 4 of them in my living room. And this was at a time when I didn't make a lot of money, so these were big investments to me. But they changed my behavior in such a positive way that it was totally worth it.
    wish_bgr likes this.
  12. Joe3

    Joe3 Active Member

    Dec 12, 2006
    Boston MA
    Reading the article made me realize that it was that early Tivo spirit that made me a TiVo guy. I just about made up my mind this spirit may gone, and with it, so will I as I will not buy another TiVo without it.

    It's really the people of this fourm that has kept that spirit alive. Well, except for maybe one or two people here who really have me suspicious of what their true motives are or how they have possibly made that many post and not get it.
    Last edited: Apr 3, 2019
  13. hc130radio

    hc130radio Active Member

    Sep 16, 2004
    Rockwall TX
    Tivo allowed me to record the TV shows Lost and Survior when I was deployed. I would get home, jet lagged, and binge watch the shows I missed out on after being gone 2-4 months.
    wish_bgr likes this.
  14. tenthplanet

    tenthplanet Well-Known Member

    Mar 5, 2004
    Oh the sounds of childhood..Where my tape go?....This isn't labeled, can I record on it...What does this number/abbreviation mean..I want to record something at 9pm does anybody need the vcr then..The program is less than 2 hours why did you use the 6 hr speed (yuck)...And my favorite does (fill in your local convenience store here, e.g. 7-11, Circle K..) have blank tape, there is nothing we can record over. (there is also the variation of do they have blank Beta tapes) The last one may be relevant in multi-child households where you and your siblings built your own collections. :)
  15. JoeKustra

    JoeKustra in the other Alabama TCF Club

    Dec 7, 2012
    Ashland, PA...
    It does feel that way sometimes. When you find someone that makes you wonder why they bother posting, click on their post count. That shows you all their posts and where they spend their time. For many people this is just like FB.
    fcfc2 likes this.
  16. Bigg

    Bigg Cord Cutter

    Oct 30, 2003
    Very interesting article. I find it amazing that TiVo's remote is still unparalleled in how good it is, and how it feels in your hand. Comcast, Samsung, Apple, etc, etc, haven't matched the Peanut. It is sad, and seems like a huge missed opportunity that TiVo's largest MVPD partners today are TPG (RCN, Grande, Wave) and ABB, both of which are relatively small. Both DirecTV and Comcast kicked TiVo to the curb, even after the wildly successful DirecTiVo and the far rarer beast, the ComcasTiVo.
  17. NashGuy

    NashGuy Well-Known Member

    May 2, 2015
    Anyone remember VCR+? Initially, it was a separate piece of hardware that set next to a VCR and IR-blasted start/stop recording commands to the VCR. After a few years, the VCR+ feature set was integrated into certain model VCRs, so a separate box wasn't needed.

    VCR+ codes were printed next to each program in the TV Guide, allowing the user to just enter that simple string of digits to program the recording, which was easier and quicker than setting it up manually in the VCR. I never used VCR+ but my grandparents had one.
    unclehonkey and wish_bgr like this.
  18. mattack

    mattack Well-Known Member

    Apr 9, 2001
    I bet "almost everyone" you knew was a techie. Just like over the past two decades we have seen many articles saying that even many people with DVRs don't skip commercials (the insanity!), before that there were plenty of articles showing that unfortunately most people *didn't* record with their VCRs.. I did. You did, most people didn't.
  19. mattack

    mattack Well-Known Member

    Apr 9, 2001
    Maybe you were way more organized. I didn't have to have "the correct" tape.. I just had to have a tape with enough free space for that day's recordings. One of my later VCRs had a free time indicator which made that part easier.. but even otherwise, I would sometimes watch shows at the beginning then know I had an hour or something at the beginning to record over. (I don't remember often recording over anything accidentally.)

    so yeah, I would have a bunch of different shows on a tape, that I would then sometimes FF through to figure out what's on it. (and write on a postit what was on it).

    I realize you're all attacking my use of lie, but even with the hassles I mention above, using videotapes DID unshackle me from watching something when it aired.
  20. PSU_Sudzi

    PSU_Sudzi Well-Known Member

    Jun 4, 2015
    Philly suburbs
    I guess you could call me a techie but most of the other people were not techies like my mom or girls I dated who recorded soap operas while they worked and watched them at night when they got home. Or other friends who set up one hour recordings on Thursday nights for Friends and Seinfeld which used to air back to back.

    I definitely do agree that “tape management” was a hassle, making sure you didn’t record over something you wanted to save longer term.

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