The Original BlackBerry Was Ahead of Its Time

What does that teach us about future tech?

Tareq Ismail
Published in
7 min readOct 11, 2019


Credit: Ramin Talaie/Getty Images

“The BlackBerry was the most amazing, magical invention in the history of things you can buy,” Tom Hanks proclaimed in The 2000s, a recent CNN series that chronicled the biggest moments in the previous decade. The BlackBerry started the smartphone revolution and its release was an inflection point for how technology would become embedded into our lives.

It’s been almost two decades since the first BlackBerry was released and, as we try to unpack the complex effects of technology, it’s more important than ever to try and understand where it came from and what it is doing to us.

In fact, one of the earliest BlackBerry devices, the BlackBerry 7200 series, had design elements and features that presented clear signs of what was to come. Looking back, it’s now clear that many of the ways technology is a part of our lives today, for better or for worse, all started with that tiny blue keyboard.

The original status symbol

For smartphones, the BlackBerry served as the original status symbol, representing wealth, career progression, and self-importance.

The first model to really take off, the BlackBerry 7200 series, was iconic. Anyone with one of those blue-colored, hard plastic-wrapped, tiny QWERTY key filled devices made sure to rave about its use and would often even wear it on the hip with a belt holster like a badge of prominence.

BlackBerry’s parent company, RIM, had released earlier BlackBerry devices, but none was more recognizable than the 7200 series, making it the original BlackBerry.

Even a full decade after the introduction of the 7200 series, well after dozens of newer BlackBerry models and the introduction of the iPhone, it’s the device that comes to mind when a character on a TV show like The Simpsons uses a BlackBerry.

Jay-Z even rapped about the device in his chart-topping song, “Encore,” flaunting his popularity as an international artist: “Back to take over the globe, now break bread/I’m in Boeing jets, Global Express/Out the country, but the blueberry still connect/On the low, but the yacht got a triple deck.”