Today in Apple history: ‘Magical’ first iPad debuts in stores

April 3, 2010: The first iPad hits store shelves after months of anticipation. The tablet Apple CEO Steve Jobs called “magical and revolutionary” at its unveiling earlier in the year quickly becomes a major success.

Jobs initially showed off Apple’s first tablet on January 27, 2010. And there had been rumors long before then. But the wait for the iPad is finally over … at least for people in the United States. (The iPad’s international debut won’t happen until May.)

First iPad release date: April 3, 2010

Arriving nearly three years after the original iPhone launch, the iPad boasted a supersized touchscreen that made it perfect for consuming content. It seemed purpose-built for watching movies, reading long-form content like books and magazines, and listening to music. Plus, iPad owners could handle email and browse the web, just like on iPhone, only with a much larger canvas.

That very first iPad boasted a 9.7-inch multitouch display and a 1GHz Apple A4 processor. Storage options ranged from 16GB to 64GB of flash memory. It didn’t come with a camera. The first iPad with 3G cellular connectivity came out a few weeks later.

Apple’s first tablet benefited from a lot of prerelease excitement, but it faced a certain amount of skepticism, too. After Jobs announced the device, Dan Lyons at Newsweek wrote, “Jobs and his team kept using words like ‘breakthrough’ and ‘magical,’ but the iPad is neither, at least not right now.”

Jeremy A. Kaplan at Fox News unleashed an even more scathing evaluation. “Call it the iPad or the iPlod, but the message seems clear: Apple may have lost its mojo,” he wrote. And John C. Dvorak at MarketWatch dismissed the original iPad as “a giant iPod Touch.”

To use it is to love it: Apple tablet becomes an instant success

But those comments came from people who had never actually used the device. After Apple sent out review units, Walt Mossberg at All Things D called the iPad a “pleasure to use,” and said it made him less interested in using his laptop. And David Pogue at The New York Times said anybody interested in a tablet would “love the machine.”

Cult of Mac’s in-depth review by publisher Leander Kahney called the first Apple tablet “perfect for relaxing at home or on a plane.”

Consumers knew what they wanted. Apple sold 300,000 iPads on launch day and a million units in less than a month. By the end of the breakthrough tablet’s first year, Apple sold around 25 million of them. That made the iPad the most successful new product category launch in Apple history.

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