The RIM 900 [email protected] Pager launched in 1996 was a wireless two-way pager which flipped open to reveal a tiny keyboard and an even tinier display. It enabled peer-to-peer messaging, could send faxes, and provided delivery and read receipts.
It was also capable of sending and receiving email, but its successor in 1998, the RIM 950 Wireless Handheld was really the first BlackBerry.
Sporting a patented keyboard design that made it easy to type with your thumbs, the BlackBerry name came from the appearance of the angled keys.
Rave reviews helped RIM to establish a number of important partnerships with companies like IBM, BellSouth Wireless (later Cingular and then AT&T), and Rogers Cantel.
The BlackBerry email service followed in 1999, and then the company listed on the NASDAQ, raising over £150 million. Sales went through the roof and rapid growth followed.