People have long predicted the death of the set-top, and yet it’s alive and kicking. As part of today’s quarterly earnings presentation, Motorola announced that it has shipped 100 million digital set-tops to date. That’s Motorola all by itself. And half of that 100 million have shipped since October of 2006. Set-tops are only one part of the Motorola Home and Networks Mobility business, but the milestone is being widely celebrated throughout the organization. Not only does it represent a bunch of boxes sold; it also reflects a remarkable amount of engineering talent and innovation over the last several decades.
Here is a timeline of key events in Motorola’s television history dating from 1947 through the present day. I’ve listed a few of the highlights below, and you can click on the image for a larger view of the timeline itself.
- 1957: Jerrold Electronics, later part of General Instrument and Motorola, supplied equipment for the first experimental pay-TV. The Telemovies service offered movies to subscribers through cable television in Bartlesville, Oklahoma.
- 1979: Jerrold Electronics, later part of General Instrument and Motorola, introduced multi-level scrambling and descrambling. The technology secured the video signals sent from a pay-TV network by scrambling them.
- 1992: General Instrument, later part of Motorola, made history on March 23rd with the world’s first all-digital broadcast of a high-definition television program. The broadcast transmitted a digital HD signal from a Washington D.C. public television station, WETA, to HDTV monitors in the US capital.
- 1999: General Instrument, later part of Motorola, achieved first volume commercial deployment of video-on-demand.
- 2003: Motorola introduced the DCT6208 set-top including HDTV receiver, broadband modem, and digital video recorder.
- 2006: In October, Motorola celebrated the shipment of its fifty millionth digital set-top.
- 2009: Motorola finished out the year by delivering a record number of digital and IP set-tops.