Creator / Tech TV

Cable television network TechTV, originally named ZDTV after original parent company Ziff-Davis, launched in 1998 to capitalize on the rapidly-increasing technology boom and devoted itself entirely to timely, topical, and good programming about technology and the internet. The channel soon became a popular source for news and commentary about the tech world for those who received it. During the channel's entire 6-year-run, it was located in San Francisco, California.

The network rebranded itself as TechTV in 2000 after CNet purchased ZDNet and sold the network's assets to Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen. It soon launched a major push into live programming with an unprecedented nine-hour block of live programming every weekday, which eventually mutated into several live or semi-live shows such as The Screen Savers, Unscrewed With Martin Sargent, and Call For Help. The network also ran a handful of taped shows, including video game review show Gamespot TV, which later became Extended Play and X-Play. Late into its run, it also broadcast a handful of anime series, including Crest of the Stars and The SoulTaker, as something of an answer to [adult swim].

Of course, it never stood a chance of surviving.

TechTV always had money issues, which manifested as layoffs throughout the early part of its life. Its major cable carriage came from sister company Charter Communications, which has long "enjoyed" a reputation within the cable industry as a struggling company. The attacks of September 11th, 2001 doomed the long-form tech news format — which had already struggled beforehand, since one can only talk about tech companies in so many ways without seeming redundant — and the rise of RSS newsfeeds made it easy to track a certain company or subject through online sources instead of waiting for a linear news format to report on them. The network rebounded in 2003 thanks to good ratings for a number of its new shows, primarily Unscrewed. This rebound happened shortly after Comcast dropped TechTV from its lineups nationwide in favor of G4TV, a Comcast-owned network that focused on video games.

Rumors say Comcast replaced TechTV in order to devalue the network in pursuit of its eventual goal: acquisition and dismantling. In 2004, Comcast bought TechTV and merged it into "G4TechTV," then issued an ultimatum to the casts and crews of all of TechTV's shows: "Move to Los Angeles or you're fired." The vast majority of the staff and talent decided they'd rather quit, and in hindsight, they made the smart decision: nearly everyone who moved south saw their shows get cancelled within months, and the few shows G4TV kept around suffered from meddling to an absurd degree. In less than a year, the network had dropped any pretense of loyalty to the TechTV name and reverted back to G4. Prior to the end of 2012, X-Play stood as the last remaining show from the TechTV days to still run on the network. G4TV retooled The Screen Savers into Attack of the Show!, which, while ending up with a cult following of its own, looked nothing like its original parent program. At the end of 2012, both shows ended up getting cancelled and the network would shut down on December 31st, 2014.

TechTV gave rise to a number of individuals who still offer tech-oriented websites and/or podcasts on the internet. Several of the names below had already become known in the tech world prior to TechTV, while others first came to prominence thanks to the network:

  • Adam Sessler (The original host of Gamespot TV/Extended Play; co-hosted X-Play until he was fired in 2012; would go on to lead Revision3's gaming division until 2014 when he left, wanting to pursue a career outside of gaming)
  • Alex Albrecht (Host of The Screen Savers post-merger; now part of Revision3)
  • Chris Pirillo (Host of Call For Help with Leo Laporte as co-host; went back to focusing on Lockergnome full-time and later became a vlogger on Facebook; eventually founded the Galaxaar Pop Culture Marketplace events).
  • Kevin Rose (Host of Attack of the Show!; co-created Digg, now runs Revision3, and works for Google — who acquired his startup for a good amount of money)
  • Leo Laporte (Co-host of The Screen Savers and Call For Help; now runs the TWiT Network)
  • Martin Sargent (Host of Unscrewed who also started out as on-screen talent for The Screen Savers; now out of the business and working in advertising)
  • Morgan Webb (Co-host of X-Play who started out as on-screen talent for The Screen Savers; co-hosted X-Play until it ended in 2012; now with Activision Blizzard)
  • Patrick Norton (Co-host of The Screen Savers; now part of Revision3)