I’m writing this from the number 20 position in the iPhone line (see right) at the AT&T retail store at The Summit, an open air mall in Louisville, Kentucky, just a few miles away from the TechRepublic offices.

Both Apple and AT&T have promised to send TechRepublic an iPhone review unit, but we requested one before the launch and they still haven’t given us a time frame of when to expect one, so we’re getting one the same way as everyone else (except The New York Times and Wall Street Journal and a few other hand-picked publications that got one early).

TechRepublic wants to get a hold of an iPhone to cover this year’s hottest tech device from the perspective of geeks and IT pros. Of course, that will include cracking it open the way we did with the Nintendo Wii and Xbox 360. Look for our autopsy of the iPhone by the end of the day on Monday.

Waiting in line is never fun, especially when you’re as impatient as I am. However, I was able to get a WiFi connection on my laptop thanks to the fact that there was a Starbucks next to the AT&T store. I connected to Starbucks’ T-Mobile Wireless (via iPass). I also enjoyed hearing the chatter from the other people waiting in line.

Here’s a bulleted summary of the AT&T experience and the chatter and rumors floating around among the people waiting in line:

  • AT&T stores closed at 4:30 pm so that employees could set up the iPhone displays, get their last minute training, and prepare to start selling iPhones. They reopened at 6:00 to start the actual sales. Sales were limited to one iPhone per person.
  • Someone in line said that he heard that each Apple Store was getting 500 iPhones and that each person could buy two iPhones at the Apple stores.
  • Another person said that she heard that the entire city of Louisville was getting 4,000 iPhones.
  • There was a guy in line who already had an At&T 8525 and was buying an iPhone 8 GB version. Since the 8525 is so powerful, I’m just not sure what that’s about.
  • I heard the lack-0f-3G issue come up quickly after I got in line. Someone read that a 3G version of the iPhone was coming out in the fall. Someone else heard that a 3G version was being released in Europe very soon.
  • One of the guys behind me in line had wanted to come and camp out last night but the mall security would not let him do it. They told him that no one would be allowed to line until 4:30 pm today. He showed up at 3:30 and was not happy when he saw that more than 20 people were already lined up. He really wanted an 8-GB version. When it came time to buy, he was the first person who wanted an 8-GB iPhone who couldn’t get one because they had already run out and had only 4-GB versions left.
  • At 4:30, there were about 30 people in line, and one of the AT&T managers was talking to the people near the end of line (high 30’s) to let them know that even if there weren’t enough phones for today, they could order one and pick it up at the store.
  • One young lady in line said, “I’ve got a bunch of people coming to my desk on Monday morning to see the iPhone.”
  • At 4:40, a bunch of people in line gathered at the window of the store as one of the AT&T employees held the iPhone up to the window for them to see. “It’s a lot smaller and thinner than I thought it was,” said one guy.
  • Most people seemed to be wanting an 8-GB model. As one guy said, “You don’t spend that much money and settle for a 4.”
  • However, there was at least one lady who definitely wanted a 4-GB model. She said, “I know I won’t be disappointed. My mom tried to talk me out of coming down here, but I said ‘No way.'”
  • At 5:24, people in line behind me starting calling other stores to check their inventory because they were worried that they were too far back in line and that they wouldn’t be able to get an 8-GB model. They weren’t able to get through. They did this because the manager made the cut-off back behind them with a guy in a black shirt (around number 35 line. Several people said that they wouldn’t buy one today if they couldn’t get an 8-GB model, and the 8’s were indeed gone by the time their turn came around.