On January 27, 2010 the late Steve Jobs took the stage at an Apple special event to give what was one of the most important Keynotes of his life - a life filled with important keynotes - and, once again, in the history of consumer electronics. The Mac had been introduced decades before, the iPhone only a few years, yet on that stage, at that event, Jobs would make the case that there was room for a new category of device in between them. In order to exist, however, Jobs said it had to be better than both at surfing the web, handling email, enjoying photos, watching videos, listening to music, playing games, and reading ebooks. It had to be the iPad.
During the keynote, Jobs called Apple a "mobile devices" company, trumpeting not only the iPod and iPhone, but MacBooks as well. In fact, he claimed that, by revenue, Apple was the largest mobile device company in the world, bigger than Nokia, Samsung, and Sony. Lectured for years by know-nothing analysts who insisted Apple simply had to make a netbook - because the MacBook Air introduced two years earlier simply didn't count - Jobs took the opportunity to tear those down first. A netbook, Jobs maintained, was just a cheap laptop, better at absolutely nothing, slow, with low-quality displays, and running "clunky" old PC-software. Then Jobs introduced Apple's larger, 9.7-inch multitouch tablet.
iPad: Advanced technology at an unbelievable price
The original iPad, code named K48 and model number iPad1,1, had a 9.7-inch screen at 1024x768 and 132ppi, both for the Wi-Fi only model, and the Wi-Fi + 3G HSPA versions. It also packed in 802.11n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR, aGPS, and... absolutely no camera. It did include Apple's first branded processor, the Apple A4 which combined a 800MHz ARM Cortex A8 and a PowerVR SGX535 graphics processor, along with a rather anemic 256MB of RAM. The original iPad came with 16, 32, and 64GB storage options, and a 25 watt hour that let it run for an impressive 10 hours. Like all iOS - and iPod - devices of its time, the original iPad could connect to a Mac or Windows PC, and charge, via the traditional 30-pin Dock connector. And it came in whatever color you wanted, as long as you wanted black.
Like the iPhones of its generation, the original iPad also included ambient light sensor to adjust brightness, and accelerometer to determine orientation, and manometer (digital compass) to determine direction and rotation around gravity. Also like the iPhones of its generation, the original iPhone did not include support for CDMA EVDO rev A data network compatibly. That meant it couldn't work on Verizon and Sprint. It also didn't include support for AWS bands, meaning that, while it could work on T-Mobile's 2G EDGE network, it couldn't work on T-Mobile's 3G network. Not that it mattered. Once more, like the iPhone, Apple teamed up with AT&T. This time they offered 256MB of data for $14.99 a month and $29.99 for unlimited, and it could be enabled on-device, and off-contract.
The original iPad also took the interface from the iPhone and iPod touch and not only enlarged it, but typically showed two columns (sidebar and main) at once, which allowed for a different class of apps. Still dubbed iPhone OS back then, and specifically iPhone OS 3.2, it had most of the same built-in apps - not including the weather, stocks, calculator, and compass - but on a grander scale. Debuting alongside the original iPad was a new Apple app, iBooks, and a new store, the iBookstore.
While it could also run existing third-party iPhone apps in letterboxed form, giving it immediate access to hundreds of thousands of existing titles, Apple gave developers months to update or create iPad-specific apps, and launched a new section of the App Store just for them. It debuted with a catalog in the thousands.
Starting price was $499.
iPad: The big iPhone
It wasn't clear from the start that even Apple knew exactly what the iPad was. They knew it had potential, but its future was a haze of possibility, not yet a sharply focused certainty. It rolled out in stages. The Wi-Fi version shipped on April 3, 2010 in the U.S. The Wi-Fi + 3G version followed on April 30, and the international rollout on May 28. While some dismissed the iPad as "unimaginative" and as "just a big iPhone", it turned out consistency and being an iPhone gone IMAX was exactly the point.
Apple sold over 300,000 iPads the first weekend. It was the first commercially successful tablet computer.
By April of 2011, when Apple discontinued the original iPad total sales had reached over 15 million units. Not only was that more than the original iPhone sold in it's first year, but it was more than every other tablet combined had ever sold. There we 65,000 iPad-optimized apps in the App Store as well, and as we know by now, it was only the beginning...
Next would come the iPad 2.