Hockey

Timeline: Jim Balsillie and RIM

Jim Balsillie, co-chief executive officer of Research In Motion Ltd., confirmed Tuesday that he has offered to pay $212.5 million US to purchase the Phoenix Coyotes on the condition that the bankrupt team relocate to southern Ontario. Here is a timeline detailing the Canadian billionaire's rise to prominence and numerous attempts to buy an NHL team.

1984 Two engineering students — Mike Lazaridis of the University of Waterloo and Douglas Fregin from the University of Windsor — co-found Research in Motion. The company was set up as an electronics and computer science consulting business based in Waterloo. Within four years, the company would focus on the transmission of wireless data and setting up of wireless point-of-sale customer terminals using radio waves.

1988 RIM's wireless foray takes off. The company becomes the first wireless data technology developer in North America and the first company outside Scandinavia to develop connectivity products for Mobitex wireless packet-switched data communications networks. The technology is mainly used for business communications, such as processing credit-card sales.

1992 The company had been focusing on working with pagers, but the focus shifted to two-way wireless communication when the research staff found a way to not only receive a message on a pager, but to send messages back as well. Lazaridis was determined to turn this into a way to send e-mail over wireless networks. Jim Balsillie joins RIM, putting $250,000 of his own money into the company.

1996 RIM introduces its first wireless handheld, the Inter@ctivePager.

1997 RIM is listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange as a publicly traded company — and raises more than $115 million from investors.

1998 RIM introduces its first BlackBerry, a wireless handheld computer. The company signs agreements with several companies including BellSouth Wireless, IBM and Rogers Cantel, to provide wireless service. It offered a six-line display and allowed basic e-mail and two-way paging. RIM is ranked as one of Canada's fastest-growing technology companies.

1999 RIM is listed on the NASDAQ exchange. The company raises another $250 million to develop its BlackBerry technology. RIM introduces the BlackBerry 850 Wireless Handheld, putting together e-mail, wireless data networks and a traditional — if tiny — QWERTY keyboard so successfully in a hand-held device that demand for it explodes. Some refer to the device as the "Crackberry."

Nov. 13, 2001 A group of Illinois-based inventors files a lawsuit in a U.S. Federal Court, accusing RIM of building its wireless e-mail network by infringing on patents held by an American patent-company, NTP Inc. of Virginia.  The dispute goes on for five years in a variety of courts and numerous lawyers.

2002 RIM upgrades the BlackBerry to include voice and data transmission. E-mail capabilities are improved so users can access multiple e-mail accounts.

2004 Research in Motion celebrates its 20th anniversary as the BlackBerry surpasses one million subscribers worldwide.

March 3, 2006 Research in Motion and NTP finally announce a settlement of their long-running patent dispute. RIM agrees to pay NTP $612.5 milllion US to settle all claims and for a "perpetual, paid-up licence going forward." The agreement allows RIM to sell all of its products and services without the need to pay further royalty payments to NTP.

Oct. 5, 2006 Balsillie agrees in principle to purchase the Pittsburgh Penguins from the ownership group led by majority shareholder and former Penguins star Mario Lemieux for $175 million US, pending the approval of the NHL board of governors.

Dec. 15, 2006 Withdraws offer to purchase Penguins.

May 24, 2007 Balsillie enters into a letter of agreement with majority owner Craig Leipold to purchase the Nashville Predators for Balsillie for $238 million US.

May 31, 2007 Balsillie reactivates a deal granting him exclusive rights to negotiate a lease option for housing an NHL team at Hamilton's Copps Coliseum. He also establishes a season-ticket drive requesting deposits to reserve seats.

June 27, 2007 Predators owner Craig Leipold dissolves tentative agreement with Balsillie, opting to sell the franchise to California businessman William (Boots) DelBiaggio for $190 million US.

Oct. 4, 2007 RIM announces that its BlackBerry subscriber list has passed the 10-million mark.

Oct. 23, 2007 Alcatel-Lucent announces an agreement to distribute BlackBerry smartphones in China. The news sends RIM shares up eight per cent, making RIM the most valuable company in Canada, based on market capitalization. Its $68-billion market worth briefly eclipses Royal Bank's during intraday trading on the TSX. RIM's shares are up 150 per cent since the start of the year.

Dec. 12, 2007 RIM opens its first BlackBerry-branded store in the Detroit suburb of Farmington Hills, Mich., in conjunction with U.S. cellphone retailer Wireless Giant. The store sells BlackBerry devices, accessories and software, and service plans from all the major U.S. providers, including AT&T, Verizon Wireless, Sprint Nextel and T-Mobile.

May 6, 2008 The Toronto Star reports that Balsillie contacted Buffalo Sabres owner Tom Golisano about the possibility of purchasing the team, but Golisano reportedly is only willing to entertain offers if the Sabres remain in western New York.

May 12, 2008 RIM introduces the Bold, its first major new BlackBerry model in more than a year. The new model doubles screen resolution of the Curve model. It matches resolution, but not size, of Apple's iPhone.

May 5, 2009 Balsillie negotiates a deal with Phoenix Coyotes majority owner Jerry Moyes to buy the bankrupt team for $212.5 million US on the condition he can move it to southern Ontario.