Roku boot screen.
Eric Broder Van Dyke/Shutterstock.com

Roku is a name that has become so common to see that you probably don’t think much about where it came from. Roku devices can be found in millions of households, but what does “Roku” actually mean? Is it anything?

The Origins of Roku

Roku Inc. was founded all the way back in 2002 by Anthony Wood. Prior to Roku, Wood had founded ReplayTV, a DVR company that attempted to compete with TiVo. After selling ReplayTV, Wood started working at Netflix.

In 2007, Wood became a VP at Netflix and worked on the “Netflix Player.” The idea was to create a device to allow people to stream Netflix on their TVs. However, CEO Reed Hastings decided to drop the project. The “Netflix Player” was then taken over by Roku.

OG Roku 2008.
Roku / IEEE Spectrum

The first Roku was released in 2008. It was still developed in collaboration with Netflix. The original Roku device had support for Channels (apps) just like modern versions. You still had to use Netflix on a computer to add things to your “Instant Queue” to watch on the Roku.

Since then, Roku has released new models nearly every year. The original set-top box form factor has continued to be the company’s “flagship” product. It’s now joined by Roku Streaming Sticks, a soundbar, and TVs with Roku software built-in.

As of January 2022, Roku has over 60 million active users. Roku is largely credited with popularizing the idea of a streaming device connected to your TV. It’s a very popular device category nowadays.

RELATED: What Is a Roku TV?

What Does “Roku” Mean?

So how about that name? “Roku” may sound like a typical Silcon Valley-esque made up company name, but it actually has some real meaning.

Roku (六) means “six” in the Japanese language. Wood chose the name as it was the sixth company he started. There’s not a lot of information about the previous five companies he founded.

Wood also started the aforementioned ReplayTV, a mobile app developing company named iband, and a software development company named AW Software. Wood’s pre-Roku ventures were not as successful as the streaming media giant that Roku has become.

That’s all there is to it. Roku was founder Anthony Wood’s sixth company, and Roku means “six” in Japanese. Now there are many devices bearing this name to choose from.

The Best Roku TVs of 2022

Best Roku TV Overall
TCL 6-Series R635
Best Roku TV Under $500
Hisense 55U6GR
Best Roku TV Under $300
Hisense 43R6E3
Best Roku TV for Gaming
TCL 6-Series R648
Best Roku TV for Movies
TCL 5-Series S535
Profile Photo for Joe Fedewa Joe Fedewa
Joe Fedewa is a Staff Writer at How-To Geek. He has been covering consumer technology for over a decade and previously worked as a News Editor at XDA Developers. Joe loves all things technology and is also an avid DIYer at heart. He has written thousands of articles, hundreds of tutorials, and dozens of reviews.
Read Full Bio »