10 things you (probably) don’t know about the iPad

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iPad trivia: 10 things you didn't know about iPad
You might think you know a lot about the iPad, but ...
Photo: Malvern Graphics/Cult of Mac

#10things bug While the iPad was arguably the purest distillation of Steve Jobs’ computing philosophy, even dyed-in-the-wool Apple fans don’t know everything about the revolutionary tablet.

Whether you’re an Apple newbie who’s just learning the differences between the iPad Air and the iPad Pro or a longtime fan who calls Cupertino products by their code names, there’s always a bit more to find out.

Here are 10 things you (probably) don’t know about the iPad.

iPad trivia

Introduced in 2010, the iPad has been reshaping computing for the past decade. Although it hasn’t made quite the cultural impact of the Mac or the iPhone, the iPad has nonetheless become a massive critical and commercial success for Apple. Hey, there’s a reason the so-called Jesus tablet has been around for 10 years and counting.

But beyond the obvious success, there are plenty of colorful anecdotes and forgotten facts for iPad trivia lovers.

1. iPads were Apple’s answer to netbooks

Remember netbooks? The inexpensive, lightweight laptops that were basically diet notebooks popped up around 2007 and, for a few years, seemed like they were going to be the next big thing. While they weren’t intended to do serious computing, they were “good enough” — cheap, portable devices for things like browsing the internet.

Apple doesn’t really do “good enough.” And it definitely doesn’t do cheap. So when employees started mentioning notebooks in meetings, Apple design mastermind Jony Ive suggested Cupertino could go in a different direction and create a slim, lightweight tablet instead.

2. Steve Jobs didn’t like tablets

Steve Jobs wasn’t big on tablets early on. “We have no plans to make a tablet,” he told tech journalist Walt Mossberg in 2003. “It turns out people want keyboards. Tablets appeal to rich guys with plenty of other PCs and devices already.” Jobs changed his mind over the next several years.

The iPad could have looked a whole lot more like a dinner tray
The iPad could have looked a whole lot more like a dinner tray.
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

3. The iPad originally featured a kickstand and handles

The iPad could have looked very different. Apple experimented with various sizes before settling on the A4 size of the first-gen device. But the company also explored some interesting concepts, including a kickstand to let the iPad stand up.

Jony Ive ditched the idea, but it showed up later in the iPad 2’s magnetic cover. The Apple design team also considered adding handles, which would have made the device look like a TV dinner tray.

4. Apple’s biggest product launch

The iPhone is Apple’s undisputed superstar product these days. But the iPad actually enjoyed a more successful debut. Apple sold 300,000 in its first day and hit 1 million units in less than a month. That’s less than half the time it took Apple to sell 1 million iPhones. By the end of 2010, Apple had sold nearly 15 million iPads.

Today, the iPhone holds a comfortable lead in sales. While Apple is closing in on its 2 billionth iPhone, “only” 350 million iPads have been sold. That’s still a spectacular number, though.

Steve Jobs with the original iPad
Steve Jobs shows off the original iPad.
Screenshot: Apple

5. The original iPad was jailbroken in one day

Jailbreaking iOS is no longer the big deal that it was when the iPad debuted. That made it even more impressive when Twitter user MuscleNerd managed to jailbreak the iPad (and posted evidence to confirm it) on its first day on the market. Pretty quick work.

6. The short life of the iPad 3

The iPad 3 “enjoyed” the shortest lifespan of any iPad in history. Apple debuted the fourth-gen model just 221 days after the iPad 3 went on sale. The iPad 4 added the Lightning connector, making the iPad 3 the last iPad to support the old 30-pin dock connector. People were understandably peeved.

7. There was no camera on the iPad

Apple pushes camera upgrades as a big feature for its new mobile devices each year. But, while the 2010-era iPhone 4 came with both front- and rear-facing cameras, the first iPad offered zero in the way of cameras. The world had to wait until the iPad 2 to get an iPad that could snap pictures.

The iPad Air became a massive hit for Apple
The iPad Air became a massive hit for Apple.
Photo: Apple

8. Apple’s best-ever three months for the iPad

The holiday quarter is always big for Apple, but none was ever bigger for the iPad than Q1 2014. During that crucial three-month period, Apple sold more than 26 million iPads. By comparison, today the company sells an average of 10 million to 13 million units per quarter. The big new product driving sales in the 2013 holiday season was the first iPad Air.

9. Jony Ive sent one of the first iPads to Ricky Gervais

Ricky Gervais, co-creator and star of The Office (the real one) and infamous Golden Globes host, received an early iPad from Jony Ive. It resulted in a pretty hilarious exchange involving Gervais, Stephen Merchant and Karl Pilkington on their XFM radio station.

Ive’s nice gesture didn’t get Apple off the hook when it came to Gervais’ biting humor, though. In his latest (and probably final) Golden Globes hosting gig, the comedian blasted Apple’s use of “sweatshops” in China to make products.

10. Steve Jobs didn’t let his kids own an iPad

In 2010, tech journalist Nick Bilton received a phone call from Steve Jobs, blasting him over criticism of the iPad in a recent article. After Jobs cooled down, Bilton asked the Apple co-founder what his children thought of the then-newly released tablet. Jobs informed the stunned journalist that they hadn’t tried it yet. “We limit how much technology our kids use at home,” Jobs said.

Walter Isaacson, Jobs’ official biographer, backed up the comment. “Every evening Steve made a point of having dinner at the big long table in their kitchen, discussing books and history and a variety of things,” Isaacson told Bilton. “No one ever pulled out an iPad or computer. The kids did not seem addicted at all to devices.”

More iPad trivia?

If you’ve got other amusing iPad trivia rattling around your brainpan, drop that knowledge into the comments below.