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A Brief History of the Blackberry

written by: Mojave Media Group•edited by: Linda Richter•updated: 10/14/2009

The Blackberry is the world leader in mobile device communication with wireless phone, messaging and data access built into their popular product line.

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    Beginning of BlackBerry Technology

    The ubiquitous BlackBerry mobile communication device was created by Research in Motion (RIM) of Waterloo, Ontario. History was made when RIM was founded in 1984 by a pair of engineering students, one each from the Universities of Waterloo and of Windsor. RIM was the first wireless data technology developer in North America and created several wireless products, including wireless Point-of-Sale devices, radio modems, and the first two-way messaging pager.

    In 1998, RIM produced a wireless handheld called the RIM 950 which handled e-mail, contacts, and calendaring with a built-in QWERTY keyboard. RIM forged partnerships with several wireless carriers and many software and hardware companies along the way.

    In 1999, the Blackberry wireless e-mail device, the BlackBerry 5790, was revealed along with the Blackberry Enterprise Server (BES) for Microsoft Exchange. The BES provided the conduit between the wireless handheld and the corporate Exchange mailbox, with contacts and calendar, putting current business e-mail in the hands of the mobile worker. New content updated in the mailbox was “pushed" out to the BlackBerry keeping the worker up-to-date. The first fully integrated phones were shipped with the 6200 series after the 5810 and 5820 provided phone functionality only with an external headset. RIM also expanded its network coverage from GSM to add CDMA.

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    Early BlackBerry Devices

    RIM 850/950Blackberry 5790Blackberry 7210
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    7000 and 8000 Devices

    The 7000 series brought the first color LCD screens to the BlackBerry Line. Focus was also expanded from the enterprise customer to a broader consumer market. To help compete, RIM developed SureType, assigning two letters per key, but still using the QWERTY format, to produce a narrower device more along the lines of standard wireless phones. The 7000 series also saw the first versions with WiFi (7270) and Bluetooth (7290) features.

    The 8000 series adds names to some of the numbers with the BlackBerry Pearl, BlackBerry Curve and the BlackBerry Bold. Cameras and media players are prevalent among the releases of this series of devices as well.

    InfoWorld magazine awarded BlackBerry their Product of the Year award for the year 2000. There has been a long list of awards since the BlackBerry was introduced. The success Blackberry enjoyed with Exchange Server was expanded to competing messaging and collaboration products over the coming years, including support for Lotus Notes and Domino in 2001. By 2006, BlackBerry boasted over 5 million worldwide subscribers and that number tripled to 15 million in mid-2008.

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    Recent BlackBerry Devices

    Blackberry PearlBlackberry 8830
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    Going Forward with the BlackBerry Storm

    RIM continues to grow and improve the BlackBerry brand, which has earned its many nicknames, such as Crackberry, a tribute to apparent addiction users have to their device, and Brickberry for the inelegant shape of the early full-size smartphone Blackberry devices. The BlackBerry 9530, known as the BlackBerry Storm (9000 series), was the first Blackberry with a touch screen interface and no keyboard.