I woke up this morning to find an awesome little surprise in my inbox. Bay Street technology analyst Tom Astle sent me this photo of the first commercial version of a RIM qwerty device!
Yeah, not what you were hoping to see, right? But it sure brings back memories. The device shown here is actually the original BlackBerry 950, sold by BellSouth in the USA. It ran on the Mobitex network owned by Motient Corp. It had a super fast 8 Kb/s data modem inside. Don’t laugh – it was more than fast enough for email and PIN to PIN messaging (which then became BBM).
RIM also had another version of this called the RIM 850, which looked exactly the same but ran on another proprietary data network called DataTAC. If you owned one of these puppies and had service by Bell Canada, you were on that network. Just like GSM and CDMA are incompatible, Mobitex and DataTAC were also incompatible.
This thing ran on AA batteries and you wouldn’t need to change the battery for about 3 weeks. I never owned one of these. My first BlackBerry was the 957, the very next model after this one. It had a larger screen and ran on a rechargeable battery instead of AA cells. Battery life was still about 1 to 1.5 weeks. Today we feel good when we get a single day from our phones. Man, how things change.
2 days until the big BlackBerry 10 launch.