21 Feb: When Polaroid Changed Photography

Edwin Land unveiled the world’s first instant camera to the Optical Society of America on 21st February, 1947.

Snapping a quick black-and-white selfie, Land astonished onlookers as the image emerged within 60 seconds. Despite its initial high price and complex development process, Polaroid cameras became a sensation, selling out on their first day of release in 1948. 

In this episode, Arion, Rebecca and Olly explain how Land’s inspiration came during a family vacation; consider why Steve Jobs and other Silicon Valley entrepreneurs have looked to Land for inspiration ever since; and recall Polaroid’s disastrous pivot into ‘instant movies’, Polavision, in 1977…

Further Reading:

• ‘Inside the company that gave the world instant photography’ (FT, 2017): https://www.ft.com/content/d76d5f44-5088-11e7-bfb8-997009366969

• ‘Instant – The Story of Polaroid, By Christopher Bonanos’ (Princeton Architectural Press, 2012): https://www.google.co.uk/books/edition/Instant/VgyuGmMZ7iIC?hl=en&gbpv=1&dq=Instant:+A+Cultural+History+of+Polaroid+by+Christopher+Bonanos&printsec=frontcover

• ‘Apple & Polaroid’s Intertwined Legacy’ (In An Instant, 2020):