TIMELINE-Canada's BlackBerry mulls its options

Reuters

Chinese personal computer maker Lenovo Group Ltd hassigned a nondisclosure deal to examine the books of troubledCanadian smartphone maker BlackBerry Ltd, the WallStreet Journal reported on Thursday, quoting unnamed sources.

BlackBerry has already accepted a tentative $4.7 billiongo-private deal orchestrated by its largest shareholder, but isalso assessing other options including interest from itsfounders. Here are important milestones in the history of thecompany formerly known as Research In Motion:February 1985 - Mike Lazaridis and Douglas Fregin co-foundResearch In Motion in Waterloo, Ontario, the Canadian universitycity where Lazaridis studied.1989 - RIM develops a network gateway called RIMGate, precursorto its BlackBerry Enterprise Server.1992 - Jim Balsillie joins RIM as co-CEO, mortgaging his houseand investing $250,000.1994 - RIM launches a handheld point-of-sale card reader, whichverifies 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 morethan $115 million.1999 - RIM launches BlackBerry email service, first wirelessdevice to synch with corporate email systems. Lists on theNasdaq.

2002 - RIM adds voice calls to the BlackBerry.2004 - RIM's surpasses 1 million BlackBerry users.2007 - Apple Inc launches first iPhone. RIM passes 10million subscribers, briefly becomes most valuable company inCanada. Google Inc's open source Android platform isunveiled. It launches in October 2008.2008 - RIM launches BlackBerry Storm, its first touchscreen andkeyboard-less device. The screen uses a tactile feedbacktechnology known as haptics, allowing a user to click down toselect actions. The model bombs.2010 - RIM buys QNX Software Systems for C$200 million. It willlater use its software for its BlackBerry 10 devices.

2011 - RIM launches PlayBook, which is panned for lacking coreBlackBerry functions such as email and organizer capability. Itlater books a writedown on unsold PlayBook inventory. Companyslashes financial forecasts, the first of many revisions, whichit then misses. Says will slash more than 10 percent of itsworkforce. Resists investor pressure for co-CEOs Lazaridis andBalsillie to step down. Offers to manage rival devices includingApple's iPhone and iPad. Delays its QNX-based BlackBerry 10phones until late 2012.2012 - Lazaridis and Balsillie step down as co-chief executivesand chairmen. Thorsten Heins appointed CEO and Barbara Stymiestnamed chair of the board. Heins promises overhaul, says RIM willno longer issue financial forecasts. RIM hires bankers to assistwith strategic review, delays BlackBerry 10 again, until early2013. Shares hit lowest level in nearly a decade.

Jan. 30, 2013 - Heins unveils BlackBerry 10 devices at glitzyevent in New York, with simultaneous gatherings in other citiesaround the world, and company changes name to BlackBerry.

June 28, 2013 - Shares fall 25 percent after company reportsloss and warns of more pain, says BlackBerry 10 sales weredisappointing. Days earlier the company said it can now serviceApple and Android devices for enterprise customers.

Aug. 12, 2013 - BlackBerry says it is weighing options includinga sale. Fairfax Financial Holdings' Prem Watsa steps down fromboard to avoid conflict of interest, days after Reuters reportedthat the company's board was warming to the idea of goingprivate.

Sept. 3, 2013 - Microsoft Corp buys Nokia's phone business and licenses its patents for more than $7billion.

Sept. 20, 2013 - BlackBerry warns of a steep loss and says itwill cut more than a third of its workforce as it abandons theconsumer market.

Sept. 23, 2013 - BlackBerry signs tentative $4.7 billion deal tobe acquired and taken private by a consortium led by its largestinvestor, Watsa's Fairfax Financial.

Oct. 10, 2013 - Co-founders Lazaridis and Fregin say in a filingthat they are considering a bid to buy the company.

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