RIM launched the first BlackBerry device 18 years ago today

On January 19th, 1999, Waterloo-based Research in Motion announced BlackBerry, a “breakthrough wireless email solution for mobile professionals,” and an accompanying handheld device called the BlackBerry Handheld, which was a pager that provided mobile email use.

Telecommunications consultant and organizer of the Canadian Telecom Summit Mark Goldberg pointed out the anniversary of the handset — which is now known as the BlackBerry 850 — on Twitter, wishing BlackBerry a happy 18th birthday.

The breakthrough device featured an LCD display, 32-bit Intel 386 processor, 2MB of Intel Flash memory, an integrated wireless modem, triple-DES encryption technology and ran on a single AA battery. Its dimensions ran 2.5 x 3.5 x 0.93.

“The frequent and discontinuous nature of email usage is driving the need for a wearable, power-efficient device that can be constantly connected to the wireless network, while remaining unobtrusive to the user from both a physical and workflow perspective. Further, the confidential nature of enterprise email demands sophisticated encryption techniques that require significant processing power in the device,” said Jim Balsillie, then-chairman and co-CEO of Research In Motion in a launch day press statement.

“Intel’s embedded microprocessor and flash memory technology provided a powerful and reliable foundation to meet these challenging design objectives.”

In comparison, BlackBerry’s most recently released device, the DTEK60, features a Qualcomm Snapdragon 820, 2.15GHz + 1.6Ghz quad-core processor, 5.5-inch AMOLED display, 4GB of RAM, a 3,000mAh battery and 21-megapixel rear-facing camera. In a shift of focus, however, the company no longer produces its own hardware.

[source]RIM via Wayback Machine[/source]