Registered: Jul 1999
Location: Sunnyvale, CA, US
The Second Greatest Story Ever Told: The 4rh Annual Blue Moon Holiday
For those of you new to the world of TiVo, or who have never heard the story before, tomorrow is a very special day in the world of TiVo. Tomorrow is the 4th Annual Blue Moon Holiday.
Tomorrow is not a blue moon, but 3 years ago, the last day in March was a blue moon. The historians of Silicon Valley will show that TiVo shipped Version 1.0 on March 31st, 1999, during the 2nd full moon of that month, and about a month before any competitor shipped a PVR.
The story goes something like this. We had just come back from a very exciting CES show in January, and our booth had been located yards from ReplayTV. We know our competition. We had looked into their eyes.
Our CEO, Mike, called a company meeting, and we all gathered in the big open common area. He told us he was proud of where we were, but that now was the time to show what we were made of. He told us that the company that shipped first was going to get the leap that would put them on top of this new and exciting category. In the middle of January Mike stated, in a fairly comprehendible Scottish accent, that we were going to ship on March 31st, or we were going to die trying.
By my best calculations, I was the head of Quality Engineering at the time, we were about 4 or 5 months from really being ready to ship. I went back to my desk after that meeting and sunk into my chair. I just stared at the open TiVo in front of me. I couldn't imagine how that thing was going to be ready in just 2 and half months.
You could feel the tension all over the company. You could hear the low murmurs of engineers grumbling to each other that it simply couldn't be done. It wasn't that we didn't agree that we needed to ship first. It was that we had already had a grueling Fall and Winter, and we were already pretty burnt out, and there just wasn't much more give in our lives. At the time I was regularly pulling 60, and often 80 hour work weeks. We all were.
But a good friend, Steve, went back to his cube and noticed something. He had a giant lunar calendar on his cube wall, and he noticed that March 31st was a blue moon.
The next day we had an engineering meeting to figure out the new schedule, and better understand how we were going to bring in the schedule by more than 50%. We played with numbers, lied a bit, and eventually we came up with a very hair-brained plan that given a little magic, a small manipulation of the space-time continuum, and a willingness to forgo sleep for a while, might just work. We needed a rallying cry, which for Engineering teams is often a good codename. Someone suggested Mission impossible, which was too negative, and then I told the team about what Steve had seen on his cube wall. Once in a blue moon, greatness happens, and we decided to codename TiVo 1.0 Blue Moon.
At the end of that meeting one of our heads of engineering showed us the clip of Olivier’s St. Crispin’s Day Speech, from Henry V. (Yes, we’re really that sappy.)
“But we in it shall be remember'd;
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne'er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition:*
And gentlemen in England now a-bed
Shall think themselves accursed they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin's day.”
I can’t remember all that happened in those next months. Much of it was a sleepy dream. I remember a lot of days on end that coudn't be formed into weeks, because they all ran together. I remember that we also came together as a team. Engineers fixed bugs while everyone else, Marketing and Sales and executives, beat on their TiVos trying to break them.
And we made it. We damn near killed ourselves and each other, but we shipped TiVo on March 31st, 1999. On that Wednesday we went to the plant, adorned our lab coats, and watched the very first TiVos roll off the line. We drank champagne, told stories, and watched like proud parents as the blue boxes came streaming off. We all signed the first few of them. Wouldn’t you like to have one of those.
The next day Mike told us how proud he was, how great we were, and that the doors would be locked on Friday. No one was to come to work. It was to be made a national holiday – the day that TiVo changed the way people thought about television forever. He told us it wasn’t just our holiday, but that everyone in the world would celebrate it, too. I think Mike may have been tired, too, and maybe a lot of champagne.
The TiVo folks did celebrate it, though. We let go. In fact, almost nine months to the day after we shipped Blue Moon 5 babies were born to TiVo employees within 5 days of each other. (True!) Sacred indeed. Anyway, to this day, we don’t work on the last Friday of March each year, as it is known as the Blue Moon Holiday.
So tomorrow, as you tune in to your TiVo to see what joy it has gotten you, remember my band of brothers. Pat your TiVo doll on the head and say, “well done.” Post nice things here on the forum, and think twice about calling Customer Care. If you see someone who doesn’t know about TiVo, tell them this tale. If you see a TiVo employee give them a hug.
I leave you with my favorite Beetles quote:
“And in the end,
the love you take
is equal to the love you make.”
-The TiVo Minister of Propaganda and Evangelism
Last edited by TiVolutionary on 03-28-2002 at 06:50 PM
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