The idea was pure genius. Provide customers with a set-top box that could record analog video from any source onto a hard drive for easy access and instant viewing. Prior to DVRs, the main way to record television was a little thing called the Video Cassette Recorder (VCR) which used VHS tapes. (I’m mentioning this for any of the tweens out there who may not know life without TiVo.) Recording to tape was nice in the mid-80’s, but once huge hard drives came down in price, it became feasible to turn a computer into a recording device. No more hunting around for that certain show, no more (usually, anyway) missing episodes when the network changes the schedule, and no more fast-forwarding through the commercials and being faced with the decision of whether or not to rewind back to the end of the commercial break so as not to miss first 30 seconds or a minute of the show.

I bought my first TiVo sometime in 2000 or 2001, but the company had been in existence since 1998. My first box worked with my cable box. It wasn’t the most elegant option, but it got the job done. Changing channels was a bitch, but I never did much channel surfing anyway. I would miss the occasional episode because my TiVo’s infrared commander didn’t properly change the channel on the cable box, but with TiVo’s “season pass” feature, I caught a lot of episodes that I might have otherwise missed. I loved it so much, I even bought a second TiVo so that I could record two things at once.

With the advent of HD, TiVo ran into something of a roadblock. Once I went HD, I pretty much had to go with the cable company’s version of the DVR, nicknamed the “MOXI.” The TiVo HD was just too pricey at the time. The MOXI had an okay setup, but I loathed cable company’s advertisements that made it seemed like they invented the DVR. (Give me a break.) Anyway, with the MOXI, I could record two HD shows at once, but I still kept a TiVo so that I could record a third show at the same time if need be.

Once the TiVo HD became affordable — again, we’re talking about huge capacity hard drives falling in price — I got rid of Time Warner’s DVR (no longer the MOXI, I was forced to switch), which had a ridiculously poor interface. I had a couple of cable cards installed by Time Warner, and bang — I had a box that could record two HD programs at once.

As time continues to wear on, TiVo has added more and more features to its software. I can now use my TiVo to listen to the music library on my computer (granted, not in a very elegant way), watch video that I downloaded from the internet, stream (older or indie) movies from my Netflix queue and rent new release movies (in HD!) from Amazon Video.

By zipping through the commercials and being able to easily and instantly queue up the show I want to watch, I’m able to watch more television in less time. And, ultimately, that’s what TiVo is all about.