Remembering the BlackBerry

Remembering the BlackBerry

Summary: If you’ve been around for a while, odds are you have fond memories of one BlackBerry or another.

(Image: Verizon)

You’re walking down the corridor with a spring in your step. You nod at coworkers you pass with a big smile on your face. Everything is going your way, especially with a new BlackBerry in your pocket. You have arrived in style.

This scene played out millions of times in the corporate world not that long ago. Long before the smartphone existed, years before the iPhone would hit the scene, the BlackBerry was the phone to have.

You couldn’t easily get one on your own, the only way for most to get a BlackBerry was to get it assigned to you by your employer. They didn’t give one to just anybody either, they were part of the executive package. Other employees deemed important enough to keep in constant contact with were lucky enough to get one, too. Those worker bees were really envied, being the only ones in their group with one.

In that age before smartphones were like navels, the BlackBerry was the ultimate work status symbol. Just pulling one out of your pocket to check your email would invoke the envy of your companions. Especially considering that most people didn’t even have email. You did, and on your phone. You were somebody, and had a BlackBerry to prove it.

Pulling the BlackBerry out of your pocket at lunch, glancing at the email just arrived, and apologizing to your table mates that you “had to respond to this work thing”. Then replying to your buddy that you’d meet him at Bernie’s this weekend. You were the envy of all.

Those who had the early BlackBerry may remember vividly when the company replaced it with a model with a color screen. It was a tiny screen, no touch required, but it was color. Sure, the only thing you ever had on the screen was a message or two, but it was in color!

When you think back on those early BlackBerry phones, that little thumb ball under the display invokes fond memories. You remember how good you got at spinning that little ball with your thumb. You had such pride at the precision with which you made things happen on that tiny, color screen.

And the things you could make happen! Opening settings which exposed every little detail about your BlackBerry. Remembering how you could change every aspect of the BlackBerry operation. BlackBerry let you change every little detail, long before Android made that cool.

You remember the BlackBerry holster that turned your phone on when you lifted it out of the case clipped to your belt. It was magic, not mere magnets, that made it happen every single time you whipped the BlackBerry out of the holster. And just as magical when it turned itself off when you reholstered it.

Out of all the memories I have of the various BlackBerry phones I owned, the fondest was from a special day. While millions were lining up outside Apple stores to get the very first iPhone, I was in line at Verizon to get a BlackBerry 8830. OK, there wasn’t really a line, but I did get that sweet phone. It was capable of international use and everything.

I remember excitedly getting the BlackBerry Storm, the first model without the great physical keyboard that set the BlackBerry apart from the crowd. The one with the clicky screen that was a giant mouse button. The one that was quickly downgraded to a minor depression, for everyone that bought one.

Those were the days, and not that long ago. How far BlackBerry has fallen from the days of the “in” phone. Now you probably can’t remember the last BlackBerry you saw in the wild. It goes to show you how far the top dog can fall, and how fast. You’d do well to remember that, Apple.

Topics: Mobility, BlackBerry, Smartphones

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • The Treo

    I remember the Treo being the big one with techies. I still have a 650 in a drawer. The palm pilot platform was really the first big "app" platform except we beamed them to each other or loaded them from a PC rather than use a store.
    Buster Friendly
    • Oh yeah...

      Oh how I miss that phone. I carried it well past when it needed to die, and then I fell into the abyss that was the original Blackberry Storm, which was a horrible, horrible phone.
      Michael L Jones
  • You don't recall?

    I remember when Apple was near dead and more recently, how BlackBerry has begun to turn it around.
    • Apple near death

      I remember when Steve Jobs said that Apple was 60 days within shutting down. If it wasn't for Bill Gates the company would be a footnote in history. It's silly to say that Blackberry with billions of cash horde was going to die? They've been saying this for 2 years now? Silly
      • But that's not actually true.

        MS Didn't save MS. Okay, so perhaps they helped instill some faith that there would be software but no, it was Jobs thining down the product line and products like the iMac and iPod that saved Apple. Not Gates.
        • Remembering the BlackBerry

          cash infusion and office support. even now office is the most important application in apple's product line across the board.
        • Actually they did -

          they infused cash into the system and offered Office, which is still one of the the top selling software packages for Mac, and I think they even provide a software team at Apple.
      • Remembering the BlackBerry

        "It's silly to say that Blackberry with billions of cash horde was going to die?"
        Same thing could be said of sun micro before its demise ... they still had horde of cash that sweetened the deal. companies are at the mercy of its investors! if one noisy investor with enough clout decided to shutter a company to get the most out of his investment, then that's the way to go. can't blame him ....
  • I see the newer models around regularly

    Too many people still love the BB keyboard. I would buy one if my company still supported them, just for the keyboard. My favorite was the Bold 9000. I also liked the Pearl 8120 before that, although the Suretype keyboard took some getting adjustment as it learned my personal dictionary. My last BB was the 9650, which was just horrible and buggy. I have had iPhones ever since and an iPhone 5s now, which is very powerful, but it does not give me the feeling of accomplishment that my early BBs did.
    • When you think about it...

      "...but it does not give me the feeling of accomplishment that my early BBs did."

      ...have all these improvements in capability led to actual productivity improvements?
      • Yup.

        Sorry, couldn't resist going against Betteridge's law. Grin.
        • Not really

          I'll need to dig out the link to the report but actually there was a good white paper done by a college that showed users on Android and iPhone were far more distracted due to the amount of Apps and consumer services they had installed on their devices.

          The Blackberry users in the study processed something like 5x the amount of email as well were easier to get in touch with.
  • My first exposure was the RIM 850.

    Great device for the time.

    "Other employees deemed important enough to keep in constant contact with were lucky enough to get one, too."

    I'm certain a lot of people would like to go back to being deemed unimportant enough to keep in constant contact.
  • I remember my first company issued Blackberry

    I held out for ages against getting one, I already had a phone, and the thought of 24/7 email filled me with dread.
    Then one day I got a call that I had a package at reception, even though I hadn't order anything.........

    Then I sadly became one of those tools who never had it out of their hands!
  • Loved my old BlackBerry, and love the new ones just as much

    I've used all of the current mobile platforms as well as the old Palm OS, Windows Mobile 6, and even WebOS, but BlackBerry still holds a special place for me. A Q10 is my daily device and I wouldn't replace it for anything.

    Smartphones are a commodity now, but the mobile world is still better with BlackBerry in it. Even if they're a niche player, I want more choices than just Apple and Android.
    • Loved all my BBs

      I don't know how many versions of BB I've had, but the one I liked the most was (is) the Torch 9810. I really like my Q10 because of the keypad, but the Torch had the best combination IMO; big screen + physical keypad + overall smallish form factor. I have an iPhone 5C for work along with my Q10 for personal use and the Q10 is so much faster for me to use (even accounting for my familiarity with it). I still have my 9810 and use it for a bedside alarm. I'd LOVE a BB10 with a slideout keypad like the 9810.
  • Reminder to Apple?

    What Kendrick? So Blackberry failed in part because it was 'exclusive' to corporate suits; how does justify warning Apple? Might as well warn Samsung, HTC, Google, Amazon, Microsoft, etc while you're at it. Actually Microsoft would be more likely to follow Blackberry into obsolescence given it's mobile track record.
    • The idea being even the king of the hill can fall.

      Right now Apple is on a tear...but that could change quickly.
      • "quickly" is a strong choice of words

        even in our new rapid fire age, it still took BlackBerry years to fall out of grace.
        • Thank you for your totally useless contribution.