AF resident tells tale of triumph in 'Harvesting the Blackberry' - Ahwatukee Foothills News: Community Focus

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AF resident tells tale of triumph in 'Harvesting the Blackberry'

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Posted: Sunday, March 27, 2011 8:00 am

What started out as a casual conversation in a Canada airport certainly turned into an unforgettable journey for one Ahwatukee Foothills resident and his Intel team that created the first microchip to power the Blackberry.

Graham Tubbs was a business development general manager for Intel in 1995. It was an exciting time in history when the palm device was being developed. The new technology allowed computers to be synced to a smaller device that kept track of calendar appointments or addresses. This new device was only as good as the last time you were at your desk - but all the same it was exciting.

A company in Canada, Research in Motion, was interested in developing technology to make email accessible from a palm-held device, but with only about 20 employees they didn't have the resources to get the project off the ground.

Tubbs and a Canadian salesman were working together one day and ended up sitting and talking after an unsuccessful business meeting before their flights home.

"We ended up at the airport with quite a bit of time before we fly back to our respected places," Tubbs said. "So the conversation went, ‘Well, that wasn't a very good meeting. I thought they'd have better wireless capacity but they really didn't have anything going on.' And he said, ‘Well there's a company in my region with an idea but they're still-born, they can't get it off the ground.'"

Tubbs agreed to listen to the company and one conference call and an entire month later he met with RIM and decided to take their idea to Intel. Now, years later and after retiring from Intel, Tubbs and his business partner, Terry Gillett, have written a book about the unbelievable experience they shared in convincing a company to take a chance with the unknown.

The book tells how with very little support, an inexperienced team and little financial help the group developed a microchip that is used all over the world today.

Tubbs was able to find a positive side to each trial they faced whether it was the lack of funding they were given, the inexperience the team had or the little support they felt from their company.

"It was an incredible experience and that's why we wrote the book," he said. "We wanted to show what obstacles you can overcome to get things done. Fundamentally, we had never taken no for an answer. If it was no now we'd come back later and find a way."

The team for project Show Low ended up winning an award from Intel and the Canadian government for its accomplishments and their work with RIM.

From 1995 to 2000 the group came out with technology that completely changed the way people communicated.

"I think it chronicles an almost unbelievable experience," Tubbs said. "The result is a product that most people are aware of. So people who have a fascination for how things came to be, they'd be thrilled to read it. On the other side of it, Terry and I think there's a lot of value in the techniques, the management style, the risks we took. A lot of companies would benefit from just knowing you can do these things. This is what we did and maybe this is how you could use it in your organization."

When all is said and done Tubbs hopes the book will teach his grandchildren how he was a part of the first ever Blackberry, developed right here in Arizona.

The book is now available for purchase on


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