March 15, 2011 / 12:13 PM / 9 years ago

Timeline: RIM, creator of mobile email, faces fresh challenge

TORONTO (Reuters) - Research In Motion is putting the finishing touches to its PlayBook tablet computer ahead of an expected March or April launch. Here is a timeline of major milestones for the Canadian company.

February 1985 - Mike Lazaridis and Douglas Fregin co-found Research In Motion as an electronics and computer science business based in Waterloo, Canada, where Lazaridis studied. Their first big job is to supply wireless message screens to General Motors’ assembly lines, for which the firm received

$600,000.

1989 - RIM develops software and equipment to work with the Mobitex wireless packet-switched data communications network. RIM starts work on a network gateway later introduced as RIMGate, a predecessor to its BlackBerry Enterprise Server.

1992 - Jim Balsillie joins RIM as co-CEO, mortgaging his house and investing $250,000. He is charged with business development and strategy, finding investment capital, taking RIM’s technologies to market and building client relations.

1994 - RIM launches first handheld point of sale card reader, which could verify and handle debit and credit transactions directly to the bank host.

1995 - RIM builds its own radio modem for wireless email.

1996 - RIM introduces the RIM 900 Inter@ctivePager, a two-way pager offering peer-to-peer delivery and read receipts. It sends faxes and leaves telephone voice messages. It talks to the Internet, peer users and the phone network via a gateway. RIM issues a special warrant that raises $36 million.

1997 - RIM lists on the Toronto Stock Exchange, raising more than $115 million from investors.

January, 1999 - Launches rebranded BlackBerry email service across North America, offering the first wireless device to synch with corporate email systems. Sales jump 80 percent to $85 million. The next year revenue is $221 million.

Late 1999 - Lists on Nasdaq, raising another $250 million. Introduces BlackBerry 850 Wireless Handheld, combining email, wireless data networks and a Qwerty keyboard. Demand explodes.

November 2000 - Raises $900 million via share issue.

September 11, 2001 - People trapped in New York’s World Trade Center use BlackBerrys to communicate after cellular networks collapse.

November, 2001 - NTP sues RIM for patent infringement, a legal tussle that lasts five years and brings entire U.S. patent system into question. Late in the tussle, the U.S. Justice Department says a threatened BlackBerry shutdown would damage the public interest due to their heavy use by government.

2002 - RIM adds voice transmission to the BlackBerry.

2004 - Surpasses one million BlackBerry subscribers.

March, 2006 - RIM pays $612 million to settle NTP dispute.

January, 2007 - Apple’s Steve Jobs unveils first iPhone, which launches in June. Time names it Invention of the Year.

October 2007 - RIM passes 10 million subscribers. News of a China distribution deal boosts shares, making it for a time the most valuable company in Canada by market capitalization.

November, 2007 - Google’s open source Android platform is unveiled. It launches in October 2008.

May, 2008 - RIM introduces the Bold, a major refresh and still one of its top-tier products. The new model matches the resolution, but not size, of Apple’s iPhone screen.

July, 2008 - Apple opens App Store and releases iPhone 3G, preloaded with App Store support, in 22 countries.

November 2008 - RIM launches BlackBerry Storm, both its first touchscreen and keyboard-less device. The screen uses a tactile feedback technology known as haptics, which allows a user to click down to select actions. It bombs.

April, 2009 - RIM’s App World goes live.

June, 2009 - Apple announces and releases iPhone 3GS.

August, 2009 - RIM buys Torch Mobile, which provides the updated browser seen in the eponymous device a year later.

June, 2010 - RIM pays C$200 million for QNX Software Systems, getting an industrial-strength operating system used in massive Internet routers, nuclear power plants and car infotainment systems. In same month Apple launches iPhone 4.

August, 2010 - RIM launches BlackBerry Torch, a touchscreen phone with slide-out keyboard and improved web browser.

September 27, 2010 - RIM announces PlayBook, due to launch in early 2011, which runs on a QNX kernel.

December, 2010 - RIM acquires user interface company The Astonishing Tribe.

February, 2011 - Nokia, the world’s largest smartphone vendor by volume, abandons its Symbian operating system to form alliance with Microsoft.

March 2, 2011 - Apple unveils iPad 2 with dual-core processor, front and back cameras to ship on March 11 in the United States and in 26 countries by March 25.

Reporting by Alastair Sharp; Editing by Claudia Parsons

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