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Shutdown of BlackBerry Phones Signals End of an Era

Service for BlackBerry phones, once a status symbol amongst politicians, businessmen, and actors, was shut down on Tuesday. Credit: Omaranabulsi/Wikimedia Commons/CC-BY-SA 3.0

BlackBerry phones, once seen in the hands of countless executives, actors, and politicians, no longer worked at all as of Tuesday, when the company stopped service on devices that had not yet switched from the company’s operating system to Android.

BlackBerry phones were ubiquitous in the late 2000s. At the time, the devices were some of the most iconic smartphones in the world, and became a status symbol.

At the height of the company’s heyday in 2012, over 80 million people were using its phones. Users flocked to buy the phones, which were famous for their handy, tactile keyboards.

The keyboards allowed users to type emails, text messages, and Google searches with ease, which they were unable to do with most cellphones at the time, which had limited keyboards.

Now, users who have not switched from the BlackBerry operating system, which was last updated in 2013, to Android are not able to send messages, make calls, or use data.

BlackBerry phones known for tactile keyboard, security

BlackBerry has long been out of fashion after the rise of the iPhone, but they still had some dedicated users who preferred their keyboards to the touchscreens found on nearly all smartphones currently.

The shutdown did not come as a surprise, however, as the company, which had long ago shifted away from making phones and now focuses on security software, announced that the operating system would eventually be stopped in September of last year.

BlackBerry phones were renowned for their heightened security software. When the company eventually shifted away from its own operating system to Android, it added its own security system for BlackBerry users.

Greek-Canadian Mike Lazaridis founded BlackBerry

The brain behind BlackBerry is Mike Lazaridis, a Istanbul-born Greek-Canadian businessman and engineer. As of June 2011, Lazaridis was worth $800 million, which put him in the rankings as the 17th richest Canadian in the world.

The BlackBerry founder and former CEO has Pontic heritage, as well as roots from the Greek island of Chios. He moved to Canada, which has a sizeable Greek community, with his family at the age of five. While in Canada, he studied electrical engineering at the University of Waterloo in 1979.

In 1984, Lazaridis developed a network computer control display after reading a request for a proposal from General Motors (GM). After GM accepted his proposal and awarded him a contract Lazaridis dropped out of university, just a few months before his graduation.

He then went on to develop barcode technology for film, work which eventually led him to research wireless data transmission.

Pursuing his interest in the subject, Lazaridis went on to create a mobile phone, and founded BlackBerry in 1999.

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