WATCH ABOVE: BlackBerry, the little device from Waterloo, Ont., was the first mobile device to put email in users pockets, at a time when cell phones were the size of bricks.


It will forever be a point of Canadian pride that the BlackBerry made email portable before “smartphone” was even a word.

The story of the Waterloo-based company that put Canada’s tech industry on the map is well known. Research in Motion (RIM), as the maker of the BlackBerry was initially known before it adopted the name of its trademark device, hit it big in the late 1990s with a pocket-sized device able to send email over a hyper-secure wireless system.

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That success, however, proved to be short-lived, as RIM failed to keep up with competition from the smartphone market towards the end of the first decade of the 2000s. Last year, the company announced plans to outsource all hardware production in order to focus exclusively on software development, a strategy that has recently started to gain interest among investors.

READ MORE: Is BlackBerry back? Why the company’s stock just hit a 4-year high

Despite its troubles, BlackBerry remains one of Canada’s great companies. But do Canadians really know everything there is to know about their corporate champion?

Here’s a list of fun facts we bet you didn’t know:

Fast food shop neon sign.

Fast food shop neon sign.

Getty Images

1. RIM didn’t quite start in a garage but it, like many Silicon Valley startups, has humble origins. Its first office was above a pizza shop in Waterloo

Jim Balsillie is pictured in Waterloo, Ontario, on July 12, 2011.

Jim Balsillie is pictured in Waterloo, Ontario, on July 12, 2011.

Dave Chidley/CP.

2. RIM co-founder Jim Balsillie remortgaged his house in order to pour $250,000 of his own money into the company

3. The first BlackBerry was a pager. It could send emails but it didn’t have a phone. When it came to choosing a name for the new device, marketing experts settled on BlackBerry because they thought its QWERTY keyboard resembled berry seeds