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Preface > What Is a TiVo?

What Is a TiVo?

You can think of the TiVo as a carefully tweaked desktop computer with a television tuner card. Instead of a Pentium or an Athlon, the original TiVo is an IBM PowerPC 403GCX-based embedded system. It uses standard IDE hard drives, with custom MPEG-2 encoding/decoding hardware, a modem, and an IR receiver. On the inside, it’s running a Linux kernel. Everything the TiVo does, save the television channel tuning and the video encoding, is done in software. Everything you see on the screen, all the interactivity through the remote, and the recording scheduling is all defined in code.

But not all TiVos are the same. The original TiVo, the Series 1, is the most hackable TiVo out there; it’s a box thrown together with commodity parts. The TiVo code is running on open hardware. If you feel like it, you can throw that TiVo software out the window and just home brew your own code from the bottom up. That might be a little excessive, but you get my drift.


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