I well recall my first visit as an analyst to digital video recorder maker TiVo's (NASDAQ:TIVO) office back in 1999. I was impressed by the TiVo box, which then had only been on the market for a matter of months. Having a TiVo, I discovered, would permit me to actively manage my television viewing, rather than the other way around. And the little critter would even attempt to understand my viewing preferences and automatically record programs that seemed to reflect those preferences.

A stagnation in the works
My next step was to construct an earnings model for the company. The model would be my attempt to predict several years' worth of revenues, which would be based on a combination of box sales and subscription fees. I then would estimate related costs and ultimately net income.

Yikes! No matter how I bent, spindled, folded, and mutilated my TiVo model, it still appeared that the company would be generating staggering losses as far as the eye could see. That was seven years ago, and unfortunately for TiVo investors, the picture hasn't really changed.

The company's revenues continue to grow at an acceptable pace, moving from $141.1 million for the year ended in January 2004 to $195.9 million in the most recent fiscal year. But both operating income and net income have remained in negative territory, with losses of $22.5 million and $37.4 million, respectively, in the January 2006 year. And the share price, which was about $40 when I first visited the company, has essentially oscillated above and below $5 during the past five years.

Lots of news, but too few moves
And yet, as regularly as rain, the company announces improvements to its box and the features it provides. My Foolish colleague Rick Aristotle Munarriz recently wrote about an innovation that would permit the transference of broadband video to the TiVo box for subsequent viewing on television. Just another neat addition that didn't do much to move the stock. And on Tuesday, the company unveiled its "Program Placement," which permits advertisers to insert an ad after a program has played, when there would be nothing else for the user to fast-forward through.

TiVo has managed to establish relationships with DirecTV (NYSE:DTV) and Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA), but its rate of subscriber additions is slowing. And if Tuesday's ho-hum market reaction to the company's latest announcement is any indication, the TiVo box may need to be fitted with breakfast-making capabilities for any real price escalation to occur.

TiVo releases earnings tomorrow. For the full rundown on the report, come back to Fool.com and see whether the future will be brighter for TiVo than its past.

TiVo is a Motley Fool Stock Advisor recommendation. To find out why, you can try the newsletter free for 30 days.

Fool contributor David Lee Smith does not own shares in any of the companies mentioned, and his DVR is integrated in his set-top box. The Motley Fool has a full disclosure policy .