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More specifically it applies to doing those things to live TV. It's not really trick play if you're doing it to a recording - after all, a VCR from the 80s could do all those things.

But with a DVR, you can do those things without recording - to live TV. It's why one of the "magic" features has been to "pause live TV".
 

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Trick play on live tv 20 years ago was new and novel. You couldn't hit "pause" to live TV. Sure it recorded to a buffer but that was the entire point. Until then, to record live TV, you hit record on your VCR. But until the program was done recording, you could only watch it live. You couldn't rewind it while it still recorded, never mind instant replay (or fast forward - which doesn't mean a thing).

And I'm sure there were VCRs that could "instant replay" by rewinding a fixed amount. But again, that could only be done on a previously recorded tape - you couldn't do that "while live".

Live meant live - you changed the channel, and you could still do all those operations (up to the limits of the buffer). To get the most use out of a DVR meant you had to record everything, but if you're just watching live TV, you could still do all the pause/rewind/replay/skip without a recording in progress. The other feature was to be able to watch a program and do those things while it was recording. Once recorded it really didn't matter since it was basically the same as a VCR. But during live TV and recording a program, you could do anything.

That was where the "trick play" came in - you could do things with live TV and in-progress recordings that were not possible with a VCR doing the recording before. Nowadays it's just routine.
 
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