Remembering the BlackBerry

If you’ve been around for a while, odds are you have fond memories of one BlackBerry or another.
Written by James Kendrick, Contributor
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.

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