Well, the time has finally come fellow gamers!
Blizzard has finally announced an official release date for the most anticipated game-launch they have ever done. May 15th, 2012 is the day that Diablo III will be released to the public! It's available for pre-purchase on the Battle.net official site so you can download it and be ready to hop in right as the servers go live! Don't forget that if you own a World of Warcraft annual pass you get the game for free, so be sure to not accidentally buy it anyway.
The first Diablo was launched in 1997, though it was released on December 31st, 1996, and was met with quite a bit of controversy as fundamentalist parents were still sheltering their kids. This was one of the first games to ever depict the actual devil, let alone have you converse and fight with him in hell. Diablo was also moved to the original Playstation, but that was only the single-player version of the game, as online was not yet available on any system aside from the PC. The game spanned many, many years of patches and changes; most of which met with praise.
On March 31st of 2000, the BETA for Diablo II was opened and the opening cinematic was revealed on GameSpot. Three months later, on June 28th, Diablo II was released for the PC and less than a month later it had sold more than one million copies (in roughly two weeks) making it the fastest-selling PC game of all time. It was released on MAC shortly thereafter.
On September 3rd of 2000, the much anticipated expansion, Lord of Destruction, was announced at ECTS. The expansion would incorporate an entire new act, focusing mainly on the Barbarian lore which was unheard of for centuries, as well as a new boss; Baal.
Exactly one year and a day after the release of Diablo II (June 28th, 2000), Diablo II: Lord of Destruction was released. On July 26th Diablo II: LoD sold more than 1 million copies making it the fastest-selling expansion ever. Both Diablo II and LoD still hold those records today; 12 years later.
October 24, 2003 was the date of the first really big patch for the online game. Most players were worried mainly about the "Rust Storm" which deletes any illegitimately created/acquired items. This was put into effect by Blizzard due to how prominent hacking was when the game was released. The most notable of which was 'Hero Editor'. It basically gave you the option to give you whatever you want. The hack was free up until about six weeks before the patch was announced, and was then re-released for 15-20$. On the 28th of October the patch was put into effect which released seasonal ladder characters, new items, increasing the difficulty and much more.
On July 1st, 2004 the ladder was reset for the first time and Blizzard announced a "Race to 99" contest. On the 26th and 27th of August the winners are crowned -- Female -- Matriarch Tifas-Revenge, and -- Male -- Patriarch ETFonTop-Leader.
Four years later on June 28th, Diablo III was announced at the Blizzard Worldwide Invitational in Paris and it gave a preview of the Barbarian and Witch Doctor classes. As you can imagine, the unveiling was met with a huge amount of excitement in hopes that Blizzard will gives us more of what we want. The Wizard class was unveiled at BlizzCon 2008 on October 10th. On August 21st, 2009, the attendees of BlizzCon 2009 witnessed the beautiful gameplay of the much sought-after Monk class, which is the fourth playable class in the game.
Keeping up with their consistent attention to the Diablo II ladder and keeping the game up-to-date, they released patch 1.13 and the ladder season 5 begins on March 29th, 2010.
The final playable class was unveiled at BlizzCon 2010; the Demon Hunter, on October 22nd.
On September 20th, 2011, the Diablo III Beta test began and was given to a select few people. Blizzard continued to tease us with more cinematics, released on October 21st and December 10th of 2011, with "Black Soulstone" and the intro trailer that was shown at the Spike Video Game Awards.
And thus ends my gigantic wall of text, and my little timeline of the Diablo series. I hope you enjoyed the read, and I'll see you in-game!