updated 04:21 pm EDT, Tue August 14, 2012
Company resisted dividend calls for years
On Thursday, Apple will begin issuing the first batch of its recently-promised dividend payments to investors. The company announced the plan in March, and later set a date of August 16th for payouts to start. To qualify, though, people must have been shareholders on or before August 13th.
While Apple has paid out dividends in the past, for many years the company actively resisted the idea, piling up tens of billions of dollars in cash reserves. A part of that money went towards buying businesses like Quattro and PA Semi, but even then Apple has continued to rake in so much that its reserves now sit in excess of $117 billion. Another use of Apple's cash has been securing supply deals that allow higher profit margins and/or keeping the prices of products stable.