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Seven years ago today the late Apple CEO Steve Jobs introduced the world to a new device, described as a counterpart to the iPhone – but with a much bigger screen.
The device was, of course, the iPad. Initially, the first-generation device came in one single edition, far fewer than the multiple Pros, Minis and Airs we have today. iPad 1 came with a 9.7-inch screen – a size retained to this day – with a 1024 x 768 resolution screen. These days the display is a 2048×1536 retina screen. Apple released the device on April 3, but those wishing for 3G capability had to wait until April 30.
Since its launch, the iPad has expanded and produced six editions of the standard 9.7-inch model (later adopting the ‘Air’ branding,) four generations of the iPad Mini – a 7.9-inch screen version of the iPad, and a first generation of a ‘Pro’ series which comes in 12.9-inch screen, and a regular 9.7-inch model.
Here’s a timeline of significant events in the iPad’s lifespan:
27 January, 2010 – iPad announced at event
3 April, 2010 – iPad goes on sale
30 April, 2010 – iPad with cellular capability goes on sale
March 11, 2011 – iPad 2 released, adds front and back cameras, plus gyroscope sensor.
March 16, 2012 – iPad third generation goes on sale, adds quad-core GPU, camera gets 1080p HD quality, and retina display.
November 2, 2012 – iPad fourth generation released – improved performance, more storage options and switch to Lightning connector. iPad Mini also launched, provides similar specs but in smaller 7.9-inch screen.
November 1, 2013 – iPad Air released. iPad name evolves, included a much thinner design, better processors, including a co-processor for the first time. iPad Mini 2 goes on sale a couple weeks later.
October 22, 2014 – iPad Air 2 released, adds better processors, improved camera, iBeacon functionality, and TouchID-enabled Home button. This is the last time the original product line (including the Air) gets updated. iPad Mini 3 also goes on sale.
September 9, 2015 – iPad Mini 4 introduced, gets processor enhancements missing from previous model. iPad Air model isn’t updated, but a brand new 12.9-inch iPad is announced, thus introducing the ‘Pro’ line for the first time.
November 11, 2015 – 12.9-inch iPad Pro is released, included Apple’s A9X processor and M9 coprocessor. It contains an impressive 4GB of memory, and includes stereo speaker systems. Its resolution is a massive 2732 x 2048. An Apple Pencil was also introduced for use with the larger model, as was a Smart Keyboard.
March 31, 2016 – 9.7-inch iPad Pro is released. It’s similarly specced to its larger brother, but with 2GB RAM.
Of course, the iPad wasn’t Apple’s first tablet computer. That was the Newton MessagePad 100 (pictured below.) It was introduced in 1993. Its final MessagePad, the 2100 was discontinued in 1998.
Following the success of the iPhone, Apple returned to the tablet game, basing the device on the same operating – iOS – as the hugely popular iPhone. However, Jobs historically noted the iPad was actually in development prior to the iPhone. No doubt, it wouldn’t have reached the same level of success if it wasn’t intricately connected to the already established iPhone.
Despite concerns over the lack of camera, the relatively hefty 1.5lb weight, and no flash capability, 300,000 iPads were sold on the first day of release, and a million had been shipped by May 3, 2010.
In this regard it’s amazing to see how much development has gone into the device over the years. The sheer power of the machines has led current Apple CEO Tim Cook to question why anyone would ever need a laptop PC with Apple’s latest 12.9-inch iPad Pro. And looking at how Apple rectified the initial complaints about the iPad, that super-sized device weighs 1.57lb, just a fraction over the original iPad.
In recent years iPad growth has slowed. Despite this, Apple’s reached the top of the market for tablet computers, and managed to stem some of the contraction in recent years with new and innovative models.
So, what’s next? It’s rumored that at some point in 2017 Apple will release a vastly redesigned iPad device, possibly removing the bezel (and Home button) in favor of controls built into the screen. Reclaiming some of the front-face’s real estate would mean a screen-size of around 10-10.9-inches.
Watch the video Apple made to introduce the first iPad in 2010:
Don’t have an iPad and are looking to upgrade? Make sure you read our iPad buyer’s guide!