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As Square nears prime time, a look back at its evolution

The announcement that Starbucks will now use Square for all credit and debit payments means the startup is about to hit prime time. Here's a look at how the Squares evolved.

The chronological evolution of the Square reader, from the extreme left to the extreme right, with the current iteration under the arc -- as explained by Jack Dorsey, founder of the company, on Dec. 3, 2010. Sree Sreenivasan

With the announcement that Starbucks is going to use Square for all credit- and debit-card payments (see this CNET News post by Steven Musil, @StevenMusil), the mobile payments startup is finally ready for prime time.

Yes, Square has been in the news for a while now, and it's gotten a valuation estimated to be between $1 billion and $4 billion, and has millions of dollars in transactions per day. But it's this deal with Starbucks that is going to give Square truly wide exposure and make it more commonplace.

I thought this would be a good moment to look at the evolution of the Square card reader. The reader's simplicity has been praised by many experts and credited with making the service easy to use and understand.

But like any new product, that wasn't always the case. On Dec. 3, 2010, on a visit to the San Francisco headquarters of Square, Jack Dorsey, founder and CEO (who also happens to be creator and chairman of Twitter), showed me the evolution of the attachments. In the photo above, the timeline goes from extreme left to the right, with today's Square under the arc.

You can see they played with all sorts of sizes, formats and materials before settling on the current iteration.

NOTE TO READERS: Please post your thoughts in the comments below or e-mail me or tweet me at@sree or #sreetips on Twitter. If you've been reading my posts here, you know that one of the things I am trying to do is learn what works and what doesn't on social media. It's such a fast-evolving, confusing world that I believe we can all learn together. Thanks for reading.