Apple iPad 3: A Video Retrospective

It’s hard to believe it’s been two years since the late Apple CEO and co-founder Steve Jobs unveiled the Apple iPad 1 in January, 2010. Here’s a rich media retrospective going back almost to Apple’s early beginnings. We expect Apple to announce 3G and 4G Apple iPad 3 models tomorrow — Wednesday, March 7, 2012 — in downtown San Francisco.

It’s hard to believe the original Apple iPad arrived just two years ago. Late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs introduced it to the world as a device standing “at the intersection of liberal arts and technology.”

Here’s Steve Jobs introducing the original Apple iPad, previously code-named K48, at a Macworld keynote on January 27, 2010.

The first generation iPad shipped in early April 2010 in the U.S. and internationally a month later. A Wi-Fi only device at first, the WiFi plus 3G version arrived three weeks after its initial U.S. shipment. Based on a 1GHz A4, the multi-touch display was a back-lit 1024 x 768 backlit LCD display.

Nine months later, in March 2011, Jobs took the wraps off its Apple iPad 2, which added a triple axis gyro and two cameras to the tablet — front and rear-facing 720p rear-facing cameras. The iPad 2, at .34 inches (at 8.6 mm) width, was slimmer and lighter than the original half-inch (13 mm) version.

“I can’t think of a product that has defined an entire category and has then been completely redesigned in such a short period of time,” Apple designer Jony Ive said in the Apple official video released that day. Jony Ive is now Sir Jonathan Ive — on December 30, 2011, he became Knight Commander of the British Empire (KBE).

The tech press greeted the iPad from its inception with rave reviews and it sold like crazy — to this day it dominates the market it created, though competition is at hand from Amazon, Samsung and other major hardware makers. Several major manufacturers — including Hewlett-Packard and Research In Motion — tried and failed to make significant headway in the tablet wars in 2011.

Here’s an excerpt from the Apple iPad 2 introduction.

“People laughed at us for calling it magical,” he says in the video below, “but it turned out to be pretty magical.” In nine months, Apple had sold 15 million iPads — “more than every tablet PC ever sold,” he says, generating “9.5 billion in revenue in just over nine months … the most successful product ever launched … our competitors were just flummoxed.”

The term — post-PC — emerged at this event.

Graphics performance, improved battery life and the addition of cameras were the big improvements in the Apple iPad 2. Sir Jonny Ive, the senior vice-president of Apple industrial design who worked so closely with Jobs, talks below about its magnetic cover, longer battery life and its cameras — features so many now take for granted. Steve Jobs passed on October 5, 2011.

It’s a long way from Apple Macintosh 1984 intro — the late Jobs is 28-years-old in this documentary.

The documentary talk about Apple’s history going back to its 1976 founding by “California young people and computer whiz kids” Jobs and inventor Steve Wozniak.

My favorite part of the video below is where Jobs talks about management — how “great employees don’t need management” and how “most managers are bozos. They know how to manage but they don’t contribute … they don’t know how to do anything.” Also in this video, the narrator talks about how there “are no complicated commands” to type in and an innovation Apple borrowed from the Xerox PARC Research Center in Palo Alto “called the mouse.”

The mouse, invented by Doug Engelbart, seems a relic in an age of multi-touch gesturing and mobile online devices such as smartphones and tablets, which provide the biggest fraction of Apple’s revenue stream today.

It’s easy to forget that Apple wasn’t always riding so high. In the mid 1990s the company was suffering and bleeding market share. Its first attempt at mobile computing, the Apple Newton, was a horrific failure. At the time, Jobs wasn’t at Apple — he had yet to return to the company as its temporary CEO in 1997 and engineer the Cupertino giant’s turnaround. Co-founder and inventor Steve Wozniak, though still listed as an Apple employee, was not working actively at Apple at the time either.

The firm was run then by ex Apple chief Gil Amelio, one of a string of CEOs that oversaw the company’s decline in the early 1990s.

Here’s a trip down memory lane. Check out this Apple Newton Getting Started video.

Disclosure: This writer co-authored the biography of Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, iWoz: How I Invented the Personal Computer and Had Fun Doing It (W.W. Norton, 2005). This writer also worked as an on-air correspondent and television anchor at ABC News, owned by the Walt Disney Corporation, in which the late Jobs (and now his family) today holds a major stake. Gina Smith is a working journalist with no current economic ties to Apple the corporate entity and holds no stake in the company.