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100 Million Set-Tops, and Counting…

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.

6 Responses

  1. […] devices) are some prime examples of box innovation. Still, Moto, which just announced that it has shipped more than 100 million set-tops, did allow that IP represents the future of video distribution. "We […]

  2. […] our 50 millionth digital entertainment device shipment three years ago that we would hit the 100 millionth milestone quite so […]

  3. […] here’s the Motorola pitch. Motorola has made a huge range of set-tops over time, and one of the company’s biggest priorities has always been to work effectively […]

  4. […] #1 in digital ser-tops, over 100M […]

  5. […] much for the death of the set-top. Analyst firm In-Stat put out research yesterday projecting that global revenues from HD DVR […]

  6. That is Great info. What a time line they have. Some people look at this and it means not a thing. But when you are setting up a Business, it shows that things just don’t happen over night. Thanks

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