iPad launch draws fans and protesters across the U.S. (gallery)

Apple’s third-generation iPad drew the expected crowds for its big public debut on Friday. The hubbub started a minute after midnight, when select Best Buy and Walmart locations opened their doors to customers. There were lines at some third-party resellers, but the bigger throngs of diehards went straight to the mother ship, the Apple Store, which started selling iPads at 8am local time.

Happy iPad-launch eve! What you need to know before lining up

On Friday, stores around the world will be opening their doors to crowds of Apple fans, eager to be the first to swipe their frozen, grimy fingers across the glorious new iPad Retina display. The lines aren’t necessary, you can buy the devices online, but they’re an admirable feat of branding and marketing, and a display of just how hungry Apple fans are to have the latest gadget before anyone else.