- Technical Brief
History of the DVR
The Two Original Contenders
A DVR, as it is simply known today, is a Digital Video recorder. It is a device or application software that allows the user to record video in a digital format to any media storage device, but most frequently, to a hard drive. To most people, The DVR is the greatest invention ever but to the major Television networks, when the DVR came out, this was a serious threat because it made it even easier than the VCR for Viewers to watch TV with commercials on their own time vs. when the network scheduled it. The first DVRs were introduced in January 1999 during the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas by ReplayTV and Tivo. Anthony Wood, Founder of ReplayTV and Jim Baton along with Mike Ramsay, cofounders of Tivo, are all credited with the invention of the DVR. But in March of 1999 it was Tivo to deliver the first DVR ever in the world to homes across America. This was due to Mike Ramsey’s challenge to the company by saying that Tivo would be ready to mail out by the 1st quarter. At that point in time Tivo still had another four to six months before the device actually would be ready but with a heavy push and sleepless night by the engineers and the rest of the company Tivo was able to meet there mark. This effort to push out Tivo was called “Blue Moon” because coincidently the release date was during a “Blue Moon”, which is somewhat of a rare occurrence. A Blue Moon is an occurance when a second full moon during the same month and Tivo adopted it as part of their history.
The Fall of ReplayTV
Replay TV got off to a slow start and the devices weren’t available until late 2000. In 2001 they were purchased by a Japanese company called SONICblue. SONIC blue later filed for bankruptcy in 2003 amid losing a lawsuit about the advanced additional features ReplayTV offered listed here:
• The new Devices enable people to record television programs and then watch them without commercials via the “Auto Skip” feature, thereby tempting advertisers to pull the plug on what the lawsuit calls “the lifeblood of most television channels”: advertising.
• The Devices allow users to share programs they’ve recorded with others via the “Send Show” feature, which transmits digital copies of shows over the Internet to other ReplayTV owners, thereby enabling people who have not paid for premium channels to watch premium content for free.
ReplayTV with its “4000 Series” and “5000 Series” units were the first DVRs that had a built-in Commercial skipping feature. While it is unclear whether or not ReplayTV, Sonicblue (ReplayTV’s parent company) or the major television industries initiated the law suit, but it is clear ReplayTV had lost.
Betamax vs. VHS …..A Look Back
This leads us to the first features of the DVR which were initially the late features of its original video recording predecessors the Betamax and (VHS) Video Home System. Betamax was developed by Sony Corporation and released in May of 1975 and VHS, Developed by JVC, was released October 1976. Both of these platforms were analog video cassette formats and used a type of Video Cassette Recorder (VCR) to record and play the video. Much like the most recent war between similar media formats HD DVD and Blu-ray of today. The Betamax and the VHS were clear contenders of their time but several factors lead to the demise of the Betamax. First the average tape only recorded up to 60 minutes of video, while the average VHS tape was able to record up to 2-4 hours of video and the VHS’s (VCR) was more simplistic and easier to manufacture. The Betamax’s smaller cassette size and video quality were an advantage in the beginning keeping it a strong contender between the 1970’s- 1980’s However, it was also their down fall when in effort to extend the record time of the tape lost they superior quality they had been known for and the war was over in the late 80’s.
In 2006 ACNielsen, a global marketing research firm recorded 1.2% of U.S. households having a DVR but by February 2011, this number had grown to 42.2% of viewers in the United States. This only proves what we already know, that the DVR adoption has been greatly successful. We now have DVR’s that facilitate many different things, from recording cable TV from our computer to recording security system surveillance. In most of the United States there are about 4 to 5 major television providers Comcast, FIOS, AT&T;’s T-verse, Direct TV, and Dish Network. All of these providers offer their own version of the DVR to record Television. But there still more storage mediums being developed to record video as well as more uses for the DVR. Video surveillance has become increasingly coupled with DVR technology since about 1998. In this day and age you can record direct to a hard drive from up to 32 cameras simultaneously and store surveillance images for 90 days or more. Some of the latest video surveillance DVRs not only store digital video, they also analyze and index the images they capture. As a result, they automate many investigative tasks instead of a person having to interrogate 3 months of information to find one item or event. Some common video analytics are: Facial Recognition, Abandoned Object Analysis and Museum Searches. The Cloud server is newest means for recording video today in fact it’s so new that the first ever, “Boxee”, was released Nov 1st 2012 and is being sold exclusively by Wal-Mart. This device has no internal hard drive and uploads all television recordings to a cloud server.
The DVR is one of the greatest inventions to add to our television watching experience. It is the Combination of old and new technology with many different purposes and applications that far exceed “just” television recording. While the DVR beat out the VCR; technology is ever increasing and I feel that cloud recording will become the next big storage medium when it comes to video recording applications.The DVR, right now,is here for a very long time because of its versatility, physical portability, and comfort of being in the market for over 12 years. Cloud server technology has to catch up and surpass features currently provided by the DVR in-order to gain that inevitable foot hold in the market.Then we might see another tech battle on the horizon.