January 19, 1999
RIM introduces the BlackBerry. The original BlackBerry devices were not phones, but instead were the first mobile devices that could do real-time e-mail. They looked like big pagers. I should know. I had one on my hip for two years while working at Anheuser-Busch in the early 2000’s. In 2001, I visited the BlackBerry production facility in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada. It was surprisingly small at the time. They way I heard it, the name “BlackBerry” came from the similarity that the buttons on the original device had to the surface of a blackberry fruit. Those crazy Canadians!
January 19, 1993
IBM announces a nearly $5 billion loss for fiscal year 1992. Several years of losses in the early 1990’s were the result of sweeping changes to the computer industry in the 1980’s that IBM was slow to recognize. Ironically, the biggest catalyst to this change was the rise of the personal computer. IBM helped create the most popular personal computing platform, but lost control of the platform to Microsoft and “IBM-compatible” clones of their original design. The monster they created in the PC industry nearly caused their own collapse. One indicator of this shift was the phrase “no one ever got fired for buying IBM” was replaced with “no one ever got fired for buying Microsoft”. IBM eventually reorganized its business, focused on its core strengths, and has recovered.
January 19, 1983
The Apple Lisa, the first commercial personal computer to have a graphical user interface and a computer mouse, is announced. At a cost of $9,995, the Lisa ended up being a commercial failure for Apple, but many of the technologies developed for the Lisa made its way into the Macintosh computer.
January 19, 1915
The neon-lighting tube was patented by Frenchman Georges Claude. In 1923, Georges Claude and his French company Claude Neon, introduced neon gas signs to the United States, by selling two to a Packard car dealership in Los Angeles for $1,250 apiece. Neon lighting quickly became a popular fixture in outdoor advertising.