This Day in Tech History

On This Day . . .

Before Digital


February 21, 1947:

“Land Camera” Demonstrated for the first time

Edwin H. Land developed the miracle of instant film. He was a founder of the Polaroid Corporation and lent his name to the company’s first camera, the Land Camera.

Consider those first Polaroids you took decades ago. And consider that Land invented instant photography at the behest of his 3-year old daughter.

As Gigi Anders wrote back in 2008.

Land, who believed “you always start with a fantasy,” dropped out of Harvard after freshman year, where he’d studied physics and chemistry, married Helen Maislen in 1929, and partnered with one of his instructors, George Wheelwright III, to create the Polaroid Corporation. In 1943, during a family vacation in New Mexico, Land’s 3-year-old daughter, Jennifer, asked why she couldn’t see the picture he’d just taken of her on that sunny day.

“Stimulated by the dangerously invigorating plateau air of Santa Fe,” Land recalled, he fantasized about creating something perfect, immediate, intuitive, and massive. With Ansel Adams advising him, Land wanted to create a camera “that’s part of you, that’s always with you . . . it would enlarge [amateurs’] horizons” by [providing] “a feeling of personal identification with the world in the way that photography has always hoped to do.”

polaroid pop sci

The camera, which became better known by the name of Land’s company, Polaroid, was the first so-called instant camera. Using developer and fixer contained in sacs with the film and photographic paper in a layered packet, the first Polaroid camera could produce a black-and-white photo in 60 seconds

After the exposure was made, the packet was pulled out of the camera, which squeezed the chemicals from their sacs and began the developing process.

Edwin Herbert Land, an American scientist and inventor, was the co-founder of the Polaroid Corporation. Among other things, he invented inexpensive filters for polarizing light, a practical system of in-camera instant photography, and his retinex theory of color vision. His Polaroid instant camera, which went on sale in late 1948, made it possible for a picture to be taken and developed in 60 seconds or less.


Model 95 produced 1948-1953


Model 95 with original box

Land Cameras are instant cameras with self-developing film that Land developed, while working for Research Row in Boston, Massachusetts and manufactured by Polaroid between the years of 1947 and 1983.  Though Polaroid continued producing instant cameras after 1983, the name ‘Land’ was dropped from the camera name since Edwin Land retired in 1982.  The first commercially available model was the Polaroid Land Camera Model 95, which produced prints in about 1 minute, and was first sold to the public in November, 1948.










Classic Polaroid Commercial with Jack Parr & Jerry Lewis… Funny Stuff


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