All About the First iPad

The squarish face that launched a thousand competitors

The original iPad was the first tablet computer from Apple. It was a flat, rectangular computer with a large, 9.7-inch touchscreen on its face and a home button at the bottom center of its face.

When Did the First iPad Come Out?

It was introduced on January 27, 2010. It launched on April 3 of that year and was discontinued in March 2011 with the launch of iPad 2.

It came in six models — 16GB, 32GB, and 64GB of storage, and with or without 3G connectivity (provided in the U.S. by AT&T on the first generation iPad. Later models were supported by other wireless carriers). All models offer Wi-Fi.

The iPad was the first Apple product to employ the A4, a then-new processor developed by Apple.

Illustration of the different models of iPad starting with the first iPad.
 Miguel Co ©Lifewire

Similarities to the iPhone

The iPad ran iOS, the same operating system as the iPhone, and as a result, could run apps from the App Store. The iPad allowed existing apps to upscale their size to fill its entire screen (newer apps could also be written to fit its larger dimensions). Like the iPhone and iPod touch, the iPad's screen offered a multitouch interface that allowed users to select items onscreen by tapping them, move them by dragging, and zoom in and out of content by pinching.

iPad Hardware Specs

Apple A4 running at 1 Ghz

Storage Capacity
16 GB
32 GB
64 GB

Screen Size
9.7 inches

Screen Resolution
1024 x 768 pixels

Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR
802.11n Wi-Fi
3G cellular on some models

3G Carrier

Battery Life
10 hours use
1-month standby

9.56 inches tall x 7.47 inches wide x 0.5 inches thick

1.5 pounds

For an in-depth look at the ports, buttons, and other hardware on this model, check out Hardware Features of the First Generation iPad.

iPad Software Features

The software features of the original iPad were similar to those offered by the iPhone, with one important exception: iBooks. At the same time it launched the tablet, Apple also launched its eBook reading app and eBookstore, iBooks. This app was a key move to compete with Amazon, whose Kindle devices were already a substantial success.

Apple's drive to compete with Amazon in the eBooks space eventually led to a series of pricing agreements with publishers, a price-fixing lawsuit from the U.S. Dept. of Justice, which it lost, and resulted in refunds to customers.

The First iPad Price and Availability

The first iPad came in two versions: Wi-Fi-only and Wi-Fi and 3G. There were three storage options to choose from: 16GB, 32GB, and 64GB.

Pricing For the First iPad
  Wi-Fi Wi-Fi + 3G
16GB US$499 $629
32GB $599 $729
64GB $699 $829

At its introduction, the iPad was only available in the United States. Apple progressively rolled out the availability of the device worldwide, on this schedule:

  • May 28, 2010: Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, the UK
  • July 23, 2010: Hong Kong, Ireland, Mexico, New Zealand, Singapore
  • September 17, 2010: China

Original iPad Sales

The iPad was a success, selling 300,000 units on its first day, and ultimately close to 19 million units before its successor, the iPad 2, was introduced. For a fuller accounting of iPad sales, read What Are iPad Sales All Time?

Critical Reception of the First iPad

The iPad was generally seen as a breakthrough product upon its release. A sampling of reviews of the device finds: 

  • We gave the device 3.5 stars, calling it "a terrific luxury device that takes the first step towards fulfilling Apple’s revolutionary promise."
  • CNet gave it 4 stars out of 5, saying the iPad was "the first affordable tablet computer worth owning."
  • The Wall Street Journal didn't assign a rating, but said that the iPad "has the potential to change portable computing profoundly, and to challenge the primacy of the laptop."
  • The New York Times' review was more mixed, saying it was a good device for consumers, but for techies, "if you’ve already got a laptop and a smartphone, who’s going to carry around a third machine?"

Later Models of the iPad

The success of the iPad was sufficient that Apple announced its successor, the iPad 2, about one year after the original. The company discontinued the original model on March 2, 2011, and released the iPad 2 on March 11, 2011. The iPad 2 was an even bigger hit, selling around 30 million units before its successor was introduced in 2012.

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