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Monday, February 21, 2011, 03:00 pm PT (06:00 pm ET)

Apple to celebrate Steve Jobs' birthday with release of new MacBookPros

Bundled packages of MacBook Pros reportedly being delivered to resellers and Apple Stores are set to be unwrapped for Steve Jobs' birthday, AppleInsider can confirm. 

Jobs, Apple's co-founder and chief executive, turns 56 on February 24. And all signs from within the company suggest that it will use that day — a Thursday as opposed to the traditional Tuesday — to unveil the new notebooks, according to people familiar with the matter.

That's the same day previously reported by MacRumors as being 'reliably confirmed' as the expected ship date for the new models. It was previously presumed that this coming Thursday was chosen because it was the earliest possible date Apple could facilitate the much needed MacBook Pro refresh, but chatter from within the company now suggests the timing is intentional.

That date also harmonizes with an earlier report which stated Apple was accelerating its MacBook Pro update, originally expected in early March, for an earlier launch date in late February. 

Apple has reportedly advised some of its partners that it may begin shipping sealed packages to stores ahead of a formal announcement, and that those partners are under strict warnings not to open or examine their contents under threat of having their licenses to sell the company's products revoked if they do. 

Supplies of the company's high end notebooks have become greatly constrained in anticipation of the launch. 

Last year, Apple noted that February 24 marked the 10 billionth song sale in iTunes, a key measure of success for a strategy closely linked to Jobs' efforts to revolutionize the sale distribution of music over the last decade in conjunction with the iPod. However, the company did not call public attention to the birthday of its co-founder and chief executive. 

Apple's annual shareholder meetings have also coincided with or near Jobs' birthday, which resulted in shareholders once toasting the executive with the singing of the Happy Birthday anthem. That was done at the suggestion of an attendee, however, and was not led by company representatives themselves. 

This year, Apple's shareholder meeting is scheduled for February 23, the day before Jobs' birthday and the expected release date of the new MacBook Pros. While Jobs has largely remained very private about his own history and personal details, including his heath, the company may wish to honor him given his reduced role at Apple during his existing medical leave.

Over the last decade, Jobs has battled pancreatic cancer, undergoing surgery, additional therapy in Switzerland, and finally a liver transplant, procedures that left him appearing physically frail even as he continued to revolutionize the markets for music, smartphones, mobile software, tablets and highly mobile notebooks.

Last week, Jobs met with President Obama among a group of Silicon Valley leaders, but his condition has also been the subject of reports that indicate he has returned to the Stanford Cancer Center, ostensibly for a new round of treatments.