Images of beer, hockey, and moose surely come to mind immediately when the world hears mention of The Great White North.
Stereotypes and toques aside, Canada has also given the world some great technologies over the years (for better or worse). As a fellow Canuck, I bring to you a list of the top 5 technologies Canada has unleashed on (or at least politely offered to) the world.
Note: "Top" is very subjective. For the purposes of this article, we will have a look at those technologies that have had considerable impact outside of the borders of this great nation.
Founded in 2008, HootSuite created a single dashboard that connected most major social media platforms, thereby eliminating the need to maintain and monitor several different accounts. This has obvious benefits for marketers that want to run effective, broad-spanning campaigns.
Allowing what amounts to single sign-on (SSO) has made enterprises and companies more effective in delivering their messages to the world, and the business world has noticed with a hefty valuation as the company continues to make waves.
A heavyweight in the e-commerce space, this SaaS-modeled company opened its doors in 2004 and hasn't stopped innovating since. By allowing business owners to take the headache and capital outlay out of starting up an online store, Shopify has made it easy for anyone to get their own shop up and running in no time at all.
Enterprises and those with IT-savvy staff can also spread their wings with Shopify's extensive APIs to allow for integration with almost any other platform as part of a company's ERP system, or any other system for that matter.
This instant messenger app has been one of the most frequently downloaded messaging applications of all time. Since its release in 2010, Kik has been the source of both inspiration and controversy. Having hit 1 million downloads within the first 15 days of its release, Kik became a mainstay of the youth of the world's lexicon, thanks in no small part to Twitter.
Originally started by students from the University of Waterloo, the application was created following the model of BlackBerry's own messenger application, replete with annonymity features. Kik capitalized on BBM's then-limited install base of BlackBerry devices.
Speaking of BlackBerry...
Formerly "Research In Motion" (or "RIM"), RIM brought email to the pager before smartphones were a thing. By combining technologies like Mobitex in a novel way, the founders of RIM enabled users to send and receive more than just extremely short messages via pager. And not just email, but secure email, increasing its appeal to enterprises and other organizations the world round.
From there, RIM moved with the times by developing sleeker devices that allowed for more features to be delivered via mobile phone, including full QWERTY keyboards, full-motion media and exposing its API to allow developers to produce their own applications for the device.
RIM/BlackBerry has also had its share of ups (e.g. in-car integration and worldwide adoption) and downs (e.g. the now-infamous patent lawsuits with NTG, the recent collapse of its handset lines). Are BlackBerry's best days behind it? Or is the best yet to come? Either way, no one can deny the impact that RIM/BlackBerry has had on the world for the past nearly-2o years.
If you haven't heard of Slack by now, it might be time to crawl out from under that rock.
Founded by a Canadian who had originally intended to make a video game, Slack has gone on to become the first and last name in enterprise communications. With a valuation of $4 billion USD, Slack continues to bowl over its competition and raise the bar for empowering teams to work together effectively and efficiently.
Its APIs and integrations allow for easy unions with various other platforms, especially in the development community. Having your team notified when a new build has been deployed via Jenkins, or having the right people pinged when a particular type of bug is reported in JIRA goes a long way in aiding employee productivity.
No such list would be complete without mentioning the Canadarm, Canada's series of robotic arms used throughout the duration of NASA's Space Shuttle program. From deploying the Hubble to moving cargo around, the Canadarm was truly a juggernaut in the technology space (no pun intended).
Northern Telecom (or, "Nortel", as it is/was better known) might not be with us anymore, but it brought to the world networking and telecommunications software and hardware that drove the operations of countless organizations the world over.
The Turing programming language. Developed by professors at the University of Toronto in 1982, the language continues to be used to help introduce new generations of would-be developers to the world of computer science.
So there you have it: Five stalwarts of technology brought to you by the good people of Canada.
Regardless of who founded what, though, it is important to remember that we are all pulling in the same direction, and working together irrespective of political boundaries can only yield the biggest breakthroughs to come.