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RIM's new BlackBerry 10 handsets are just around the corner — a vital launch for the Canadian smartphone maker, which needs to lure businesses and consumers back to the brand.
The new devices will need a combination of intuitive user interface and compelling hardware, which makes now a good time to look back at RIM's heritage and its more notable handsets, for good or for bad. That's because the history of RIM can be measured out in handsets: from the first pagers through to its latest smartphones.
The RIM 850 Wireless Handheld (pictured) was announced on 12 July, 1999. Note how it was not yet called a BlackBerry; it was, however, the one that garnered it some attention.
The device itself (850 or 950, depending on network and locality, a recurrent theme for RIM) had a six- or eight-line display and was capable of sending messages, emails and had calendars, address books, task lists, a calculator and an alarm function. It was one of the first wireless devices capable of connecting people to their corporate email and contacts.
It had 4MB of memory, was powered by one AA battery and weighed 133g, which is exactly the same as an iPhone 3G. It also had a QWERTY keyboard, of course.
In the three months following its announcement RIM's stock went up 50 percent from just over $22 to around $33.50, as the wireless company focused its sights on business customers.
To put that in perspective, on 12 July, 2012, its share price was around $7; today its around double that. Apple’s stock price was around $55 in July 1999, today it stands at just over the $500 mark.