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Introduction to Polaroid

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In the year 1937, Edwin H. Land founded Land-Wheelwright Laboratories, that later became famous by the name Polaroid Corporation (after invention of the first Polaroid).

First they only produced polarized sunglasses, but Land left Harvard in the age of seventeen to work on his research (later he returned to college).
In 1944, while on vacation, his daughter asked his dad why she has to wait so much to see a photo he took of her. That gave him an idea, and in the year 1947, Land announced his first camera that produced finished photo after no more than a minute.

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He was laughed off by some manufacturers of photo equipment, who described his invention as ‘toy’ that won’t last a year on the market. No need to tell you how wrong they were! In the next 20 years over 14 million of Americans owned Polaroid cameras and Polaroid Corporation became the second biggest photo-technique manufacturer in USA.

After improvements on the product, Polaroid cameras produced high quality images in just 10 to 20 seconds, using their unique method.

Usually, exposure is being done in camera, and then negative is being developed. Positive copy is made in darkroom, where the light comes through a negative, exposing the other emulsion – light sensitive photo paper that needs to be developed.

Land’s unique Polaroid-film merges some parts of the process; it contains negative emulsion and positive paper all in one. It is called instant film and the film contains the chemicals needed for developing and fixing the photo.

The first camera sold was the Model 95 in November 26. 1948, but early instant cameras were often named “Land Cameras,” named after their inventor. It looked nothing like the Polaroid camera we know today, just not to be confused, and it was followed by Model 95A and 95B.

Polaroid film comes in variety of sizes – from 24 mm × 36 mm up to 50.8 cm × 61 cm size; with the most popular film size of 83mm × 108mm.

When we say Polaroid photo nowadays, we usually think of 83x108mm photo, where the image is smaller and surrounded by a white border. Through the time, instant film was produced with ISO between 4 and 20000, but typically has an ISO between 80 and 5000.

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Although Polaroid’s history was bright, with the technical progress and huge rivalry with more successful Kodak, its shine started to fade. The company filed for bankruptcy protection in 2001 and that’s when the legal problems started.

There were some attempts to save and recover the company; the most of the business was later on carried by the Polaroid Holding Company (PHC). In the year 2005, Petters Group Worldwide announced its acquisition of PHC and Flextronics bought Polaroid’s manufacturing systems, and decided to transfer the most of the manufacturing in China, because it’s cheaper.

In the next five years, renewed company introduced PoGo TWO, Polaroid’s portable PoGo photo printer with built-in digital camera.

In March 2009, following the bankruptcy and legal hysteria, the Polaroid brand name was sold again. Many enthusiasts and Polaroid lovers all over the world tried to revive Polaroid by the variety of projects such as the Impossible Project who currently produce SX70, Spectra, 600 and 8×10 film.

In reality, it seems that Polaroid’s time has, unfortunately passed – used cameras can be, in fact cheaply but film is very expensive and very hard to find in all countries but the US.

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