January 23, 2012 / 3:58 AM / 6 years ago

Timeline: Change at the top of Research In Motion

(Reuters) - Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie, the tandem who led the company that makes the BlackBerry smartphone for two decades, have stepped down as co-CEO and co-chairman of Research In Motion RIM.TO.

Here is major milestones in the history of the Canadian company:

February 1985 - Mike Lazaridis and Douglas Fregin co-found Research In Motion as an electronics and computer science business based in Waterloo, Ontario, the Canadian university city where Lazaridis studied.

1989 - RIM develops a network gateway later introduced as RIMGate, a predecessor to its BlackBerry Enterprise Server.

1992 - Jim Balsillie joins RIM as co-CEO, mortgaging his house and investing $250,000.

1994 - RIM launches handheld point of sale card reader, which verified debit and credit transactions directly to a bank.

1995 - RIM builds its own radio modem for wireless email.

1997 - RIM lists on the Toronto Stock Exchange, raising more than $115 million.

January, 1999 - RIM launches rebranded BlackBerry email service across North America, offering the first wireless device to synch with corporate email systems. Sales jump 80 percent to $85 million. The next year revenue is $221 million.

Late 1999 - The company shares are listed on Nasdaq, raising another $250 million. RIM introduces BlackBerry 850 Wireless Handheld, combining email, wireless data networks and a Qwerty keyboard. Demand explodes.

September 11, 2001 - People trapped in New York’s World Trade Center use BlackBerrys to communicate after cellular networks collapse.

November, 2001 - NTP sues RIM for patent infringement, the start of a five-year legal tussle. Late in the battle, the U.S. Justice Department says a threatened BlackBerry shutdown would damage the public interest due to their heavy use by government.

2002 - RIM adds voice transmission to the BlackBerry.

2004 - Surpasses one million BlackBerry subscribers.

March, 2006 - RIM pays $612 million to settle NTP dispute.

January, 2007 - Apple’s Steve Jobs unveils first iPhone, which launches in June. Time names it Invention of the Year.

October 2007 - RIM passes 10 million subscribers. News of a China distribution deal boosts shares, making it for a time the most valuable company in Canada by market capitalization.

November, 2007 - Google’s open source Android platform is unveiled. It launches in October 2008.

May, 2008 - RIM introduces the Bold, a major refresh and still one of its top-tier products. The new model matches the resolution, but not size, of Apple’s iPhone screen.

July, 2008 - Apple opens App Store and releases iPhone 3G, preloaded with App Store support, in 22 countries.

November 2008 - RIM launches BlackBerry Storm, its first touchscreen and keyboard-less device. The screen uses a tactile feedback technology known as haptics, which allows a user to click down to select actions. It bombs.

April, 2009 - RIM’s App World goes live.

June, 2009 - Apple announces and releases iPhone 3GS.

June, 2010 - RIM pays C$200 million for QNX Software Systems, getting an industrial-strength operating system used in massive Internet routers, nuclear power plants and car infotainment systems. In same month Apple launches iPhone 4.

August, 2010 - RIM launches BlackBerry Torch, a touchscreen phone with slide-out keyboard and improved web browser.

September 27, 2010 - RIM announces PlayBook tablet, due to launch in early 2011, which runs on a QNX kernel.

December, 2010 - RIM acquires user interface company The Astonishing Tribe.

February, 2011 - Nokia, the world’s largest smartphone vendor by volume, abandons its Symbian operating system to form alliance with Microsoft.

March 2, 2011 - Apple unveils iPad 2, ships on March 11 in the United States and in 26 countries by March 25.

April 19, 2011 - RIM launches PlayBook in United States and Canada. Early reviews pan it for lack of core BlackBerry functions like email and organizer functions. These are due in February 2012.

April 28, 2011 - RIM sharply lowers an already dismal forecast for current quarter, but maintains a full-year earnings outlook of $7.50 a share.

June 16, 2011 - RIM misses its lowered revenue target, gives more limp forecasts and resets the full-year outlook to between $5.25 and $6 a share. It says it will slash more than 10 percent of its workforce and buy back stock.

July 12, 2011 - Executives deflect criticism at annual general meeting, after an activist shareholder withdrew a motion to force co-CEOs Lazaridis and Balsillie to relinquish their other shared role as board chairman.

September 6, 2011 - A second activist shareholder asks the board to wrest control from Lazaridis and Balsillie and consider RIM putting itself up for sale or spinning off units.

September 15, 2011 - RIM reports another poor quarter including a sharp falloff in phone and tablet shipments. It points to the low end of latest full year earnings outlook.

October 10-13, 2011 - Millions of BlackBerry users on five continents are left without email, Internet and instant messaging service by a massive failure of RIM’s infrastructure.

November 29, 2011 - In an acknowledgement of its slipping grip on the corporate sector, RIM offers to manage rival devices including Apple’s iPhone and iPad.

December 2, 2011 - The company books a huge writedown on PlayBook inventory, which it is discounting heavily to provoke sales.

December 15, 2011 - RIM delays its QNX-based BlackBerry 10 phones until late 2012 and gives tepid short-term outlook. The co-CEOs agree to an immediate pay cut to $1 each.

January 22, 2012 - RIM says Lazaridis and Balsillie are stepping down from both chief executive and chairman roles they share. The company appoints Thorstein Heins as CEO and Barbara Stymiest as chair of the board.

Reporting by Alastair Sharp

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