These days, it has become increasingly popular to record television shows and watch them at leisure, rather than watching them when they air. This originally started with the explosion of VCRs in the 80s and 90s, but eventually expanded to the recorders that we use today.
One of the first recorders to become popular was Tivo, which first became successful in the early 2000s as VCRs and VHS started to die out. With Tivo, viewers could set up recordings of shows, even setting the device to automatically record any showings of a particular program. Certain recordings would “expire” after a time if they were programmed to do so, but otherwise they could be deleted from the Tivo device once the viewer had watched them or decided they didn’t want them. Part of the novelty of Tivo, which was enabled through a subscription service, was that it allowed viewers to easily fast forward through commercials, creating an experience with much less annoying interruption, and they could also pause shows if they wanted to use the restroom or get a snack. Tivo was such a phenomenon that The Daily Show host Jon Stewart would often joke that his team would compile all their news clips from Tivo recordings, and he may have very well been speaking the truth!
These days, although Tivo is still kicking and quite popular, the basic functionality of it is largely available through other services as well, such as through cable services like Comcast. “DVR” has now become the accepted generic term for such devices and services. There can be no doubt that Tivo and DVR have changed the way we watch television.