The 20th century has been a century of almost non-stopping technological progress, with various breakthroughs in many spheres of human life. Some of them just made life easier, while others presented an opportunity to entirely change the face of entertainment.

Digital TV, Satellite TV, you name it – they're all ways to make watching TV a lot more fun experience. However, as we all know, nothing changes suddenly and standards do not update over night. This created the necessity for devices that convert newer transmissions to work with older technology. Here's where the conversion boxes or as some people call them set-top boxes, come in.

Conversion boxes came into the equation since most of the existing TV sets didn't have a built in digital tuner. The digital tuner is the part of the TV that's responsible for dividing the separate channels from the incoming signal, as well as other services from the television service, if they came through the same cable on different frequencies.

In order not to bother with too much detail, here are some basic facts about conversion boxes:

- Ever since many and different plans were introduced to cable TV, a necessity for a device that allows different users to have different plans arose. In the very begging, the cable TV providers had only one plan in which all the expensive channels were positioned on higher frequency. However, this wasn't a good solution and companies started broadcasting encrypted signal which could only be decoded by the conversion box. That way, the company could control which channels were aired to whom and also to make lots of different plans and TV packages.

- The digital conversion box is also used in the satellite TV systems as well. However, the technology used in those conversion boxes is different – they have microchips known as smart cards, which contain information about the decoded channels. This makes the satellite TV packages a lot cheaper than the cable ones.

- Some conversion boxes today are so advanced that they can record shows and programs to hard drives, SD cards and any other portable mass-storage device. Commercially popularized by TiVo and afterwards introduced by many companies, digital video recorders are now something very common. Nowadays, most of the technological experts suggest that they will be something like the VCR of the 21st century, only with more features and benefits than the actual VCR.

- Conversion boxes come in many different sorts and varieties. Furthermore, many of the manufacturing companies are trying their very best to create a better product each day. Some aim at miniaturizing the devices, while others try to increase their functionality - how they operate on a hardware and software level. Yes, as surprising as it may seem, your conversion box operates with software too. There are even conversion boxes that were made to use Linux, the freeware operating system. Those conversion boxes are called Dreambox and they are available on the market for quite a while.

Although conversion boxes (in Danish the term is boxen) started as a mere workaround for common problems, they have become a part of the TV experience and they provide a lot of improvement in the services offered by the TV providers.