One day before Apple releases the new iPad, investors are going absolutely wild over the company’s stock. Earlier today, Apple (AAPL‎) hit $600 per share for the first time, just a month after the stock hit $500.

The stock hit $600 just moments after the market opened before falling back below that level in early morning trading.

To put this into perspective, at $600, the combined value of Apple’s outstanding shares is more than $559 billion, the third-highest valuation ever for a public company. The company now only trails General Electric and Microsoft, which both soared to around $600 billion  during the dot-com bubble at the turn of the century, according to CNNMoney.

Apple stock first closed above $500 on February 13. Apple passed $400 seven months earlier and $300 just 17 months ago. Shares traded above $200 for the first time in October 2009. Analysts expect Apple’s share price to drop slightly following tomorrow’s new iPad release.

So, what will it be? One share of Apple or the 32GB new iPad?