A storm rolled in and blew away the tent set up at midnight by Clay Ellis and Nate Murdock near The Gateway's Apple store, where overnight temperatures hovered just above freezing.
But by Saturday, it was all worth it. No one else had showed up to stand in line to purchase the much-touted iPads until 5 a.m.
Clay, an ecstatic 16-year-old from Pleasant Grove, got the first iPad sold at the Apple store when it opened at 9 a.m., and as he stood on the curb demonstrating the whiz-bang for a curious onlooker, Murdock, 30, provided the digital lifestyle commentary.
"It's a good mid-device. You can format documents and spreadsheets on it. You can create," Murdock said as Clay spun the machine around and spread his fingers across its 9.7-inch screen tapping, tapping to pinpoint on a map where he was standing at that very moment, smiling, smiling.
The iPad is a computer, a very fast one with a battery that runs more than 10 hours and can do most, but not all, a laptop can do at the literal touch of a finger. And due to the usual Apple marketing that has created a class of believers for whom buying one was a cultural event that drew even nonbuyers to soak up the scene. It was the hottest rollout since Apple launched its iPhone three years ago, and it was happening all over the nation.
In Utah, Best Buy stores in Murray and South Salt Lake were selling iPads on a first-come, first-served basis. Other sellers included Macdocs in Salt Lake
The big Apple action was at The Gateway. Erin and Gabe Rudy, both 26-year-old Salt Lake City residents, walked out of the store with their new iPad shortly after 9 a.m.
"We're really excited," said Erin, because now the couple can convert their subscriptions to nine newspapers and magazines to e-versions. And while both use computers on the job, "this won't be an extension of work," she said.
"When you sit on the couch," said Gabe, "you'll pull this out."
By 10 a.m., the line of those who pre-ordered the maiden version of the iPad had dissipated. But the line of customers hoping there would be iPads left over for them stretched from the front of the store around the corner to 500 West.
Near the end of the line, Salt Lake City resident Joe Ray, 53, stood shivering with the others. So why didn't he pre-order?
"I've been busy, lazy and not quite sure I wanted one," said Ray, who uses a regular old computer in the business he runs from his home, and owns an iPhone and laptop. But in the past couple of days, Apple buzz pierced his brain. Resistance was futile.
"It will be nice to carry around," Ray said, looking pleased. "I don't always want to be at my desk."
The price ranges from $499 for a 16-gigabyte model to $829 for 64 gigabytes. The device is smaller than a sheet of typing paper, about an inch thick and weighs 1.5 pounds.
Tech reviewers have likened it to a giant iPod Touch. Users can download the 150,000 iPhone apps, plus 1,000 or so unique to the iPad, and stream Netflix movies straight to their screens. The iPad has an electronic keyboard that when turned vertically allows easy thumb-typing for e-mails or Twitter.
People who don't like it blame the size and what it doesn't have: Too big to hold comfortably in one hand, no Flash video support, no integrated video camera (in this version, anyway) and no phone.
Over and over, though, buyers Saturday pointed out the iPad's best features: It's great for e-mail, watching movies and playing games, and you can see the screen without squinting. Some say that's a big deal for readers who want to abandon paper but still hold a book- or magazine-like item in their hands, though others who apparently can't stand imperfection say the proprietary iPad book selection, now at 60,000 titles, isn't nearly big enough.
Not to worry. The Apple people will take care of that -- but you'll have to buy the new iPads coming out later this month and next year. Cha-ching!