How Long People Waited to Be First in Line to Buy Apple Products

A garbage man camping out to buy the iPhone 4S may set the record at 240 hours

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Yesterday, Apple told the world that it will begin selling the iPhone 4S on October 14, which can only mean one thing: the start of long lines outside Apple Stores, and the media coverage of them. And with only nine short days before the iPhone hits shelves, we already know who the first in line is: garbage-man-cum-blogger Rob Shoesmith, the first and (so far) only man in queue at London's Convent Garden store. As far as we can tell, Shoesmith, if successful, will set the record for longest wait in line at an Apple Store at 10 days. We decided to take look back at how long people have waited for Apple's various much-sought out baubles.

Original iPhone: 110 hours  Back in June 2007, Greg Packer, a maintenance worker from New Jersey, was the first to queue up outside New York's Fifth Avenue Apple Store to buy the first iPhone. Dubbed the "iLoser" by the tech blogosphere, Packer has a history nabbing "man-on-the-street" interviews from the press and being the first in line at big events, making him a sort of Z-list celebrity himself. Among his accomplishments: being first to greet George W. Bush at his inauguration, first at the opening of the World Trade Center viewing platform in December 2001, and first to have Bill Clinton sign his memoir.

iPhone 3G: 168 hours  A year later and Apple had a shinier, newer iPhone, the 3G. Looking to capitalize on the public interest during the summer of 2008, TheWhoFarm, a group of four eco-minded twenty-somethings, leveraged their No. 1 spot in line for the iPhone 3G to campaign for the creation of an organic garden at the White House. Michele Obama, apparently, noticed their week-long wait: once her husband took office several months later, she dug up part of the South Lawn to plant a garden. So publicity stunts can work--especially if you cloak them in the Apple brand.

iPad: 48 hours Even though by this point Apple products can be preordered online, professional line waiter Greg Packer again nabs the first spot in line at the Fifth Avenue Apple Store to start a two-day wait for the first iPad--only to get sent back in line for not having a reservation. Packer was reported "really mad" about losing the spot. You've been doing this for a while, Greg--you're suppose to be a professional.

iPad 2: 41 hours  College student Amanda Foote had to wait slightly less time to be first to buy the iPad 2. And she had a more mercenary reason: she sold her spot for a cool $900. Though she could be have purchased approximately 1.8 new iPads with the dough, she told reporters that she was going to buy Lady Gaga tickets instead.

iPhone 4S: 240 hours (potentially)  Rob Shoesmith, a garbage-collecting Briton, announced months ago his plan to camp out for whatever new iPhone would be released this October and blog about the experience at the prematurely named Shoesmith clearly is making the best of the opportunity, grabbing corporate sponsors to pay for everything from his food and camping gear to the new iPhone itself. Not a bad gig, especially in his economy.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.