TiVo Is the Hidden Linux of the Week


The internet and Linux were both relatively new things in 1999 for much of the world outside of academia. It was at that time that a new device came out that has since been eclipsed by other services. What am I talking about? What many consider the first DVR, the humble TiVo. And yes, TiVo runs Linux.

TiVo was originally started by Jim Barton and Mike Ramsay, via the original company which was named Teleworld. Teleworld was then renamed TiVo Inc at a later date.  The first TiVo was demonstrated at the 1999 Consumer Electronics show and then released in March 1999.  Until then, people did record from the TV, but the functionality of a DVR eclipsed anything that existed until that time.

It wasn’t too long after the TiVo was released that the Linux community realized that their TiVo’s ran Linux.  After they figured out it ran Linux, they were able to upgrade the hard disks on their own and add even more functionality to the TiVo. Initially, the community took TiVo to task because they had not released any source code.  Today, however, I was able to find some source on the TiVo website.  It’s not an ideal situation for the Linux community, but with the TiVo running Linux you can still do things like upgrade the disks and even offload content from the TiVo.

For more on hacking the TiVo, check out Jeff Keegan’s hacking TiVo site, TiVo Central, TiVo Community or weaKnees.

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About the Author

Joel McLaughlin
Joel is a consultant in the IT field and is located in Columbus, OH. While he loves Linux and tends to use it more than anything else, he will stoop to running closed source if it is the best tool for the job. His techno passions are Linux, Android, netbooks, GPS, podcasting and Amateur Radio.