Revisit the first Apple Store as it appeared 20 years ago with augmented reality

By Michael Steeber

May 19, 2021

World's First Apple Store

On May 19, 2001, Apple opened its first two retail stores in Tysons Corner, Virginia and Glendale, California. Now you can revisit the world’s first Apple Store exactly as it appeared twenty years ago on grand opening day through an interactive augmented reality experience.

Beyond a black stainless steel entry bordered by glowing Apple logos, early Apple Stores were organized into eight distinct sections labeled by backlit signs on the ceiling: home, pro, music, movies, kids, photo, genius bar, and etc. Sections were divided by pinstripe glass partitions that resembled the original Aqua interface in Mac OS X.

Instead of large wooden tables and stone floors, Macs were displayed on white Corian tables shaped like kidney beans. Merchandising in each section of the store highlighted solutions and products that worked great with Mac OS X, like digital cameras, camcorders, and MP3 players.

The etc. section housed accessories like printers, keyboards, and cables, and the Genius Bar was located in the corner, not centered at the back like in later Apple Stores.

More than three hundred third-party boxed software titles were arranged on two rows of black shelving spanning from a checkout kiosk near the front of the store to the Theater in the back.

In the Theater, Apple hosted Workshops, software demos, and sometimes iTunes visualizers on a 10-foot projection screen. Larger stores often welcomed musicians and creative experts to the Theater for live events.

When Steve Jobs introduced the Genius Bar, he picked up a classic red rotary phone on the back counter. All of the earliest Apple Stores were outfit with a similar red phone, ready and waiting as a lifeline for Geniuses with a vexing technical issue.

Tap on the button below in Safari on an iPhone or iPad to launch the model (17MB) and tap “View” when prompted. Place the model on a table to explore in as much detail as you’d like, and learn more about the store design.