HIST 1010 Lecture 3: “New” Polaroid Corporation (Since 1990’s)

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REVIEWinstant-university_yellow-border

Polavision did not sell well in retail shops and brought a huge financial crisis to Polaroid. Edwin Land submitted his resignation and left the company he had founded.

 

IN 1980’Sinstant-university_yellow-border

The 1980’s was a hard time to Polaroid. The company tried to reinvent itself without Edwin Land by shifting away from a dependence on consumer photography, a market that was steadily declining. It was forced to make wholesale changes. Over thousands of workers were fired and many manufacturing plants were shut down. Therefore, Polaroid sought to innovate in the declining market for instant photography.

 

IN 1990’Sinstant-university_yellow-border

In 1990’s, technology rose and dramatically changed the world of photography. 1-hour color film processing, single-used cameras from competitors, videotape camcorders, and digital cameras brought more choices to public. The rise of new technology has helped reduce the cost of print photography to a large extent.

Polaroid then turned to produce disposable cameras. At that time, many other competitors such as Kodak and Fujifilm were in the market.

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Polaroid single-use camera with built-in flash (Credits: Polaroid)

The company planned to invent camera that can produce instant photos and 35mm negatives and another one that yields instant photos with digital images. Moreover, they moved the factories to less developed countries like China and other low-wage countries to keep costs down.

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Polaroid Z2300 Instant Digital Camera (Credits: Polaroid)

 

IN 2000’Sinstant-university_yellow-border

In 2001, Polaroid released a small portable printer. It was used for advertisers like retailers and restaurants to reach cellphone users with printouts. The product brought them an extra revenue, along with sales of the device, and refills of the printout.

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Polaroid PoGo Instant Digital Mobile Printer

Unfortunately, Polaroid went bankrupt in October 2001 and announced that they would stop producing instant films and cameras. On the other hand, a group of former employees of Polaroid bought its film factory in the Netherlands and formed a new filmmaking company called The Impossible Project.

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The Impossible Project only takeovers the factory space and machines from Polaroid other than technology and techniques. So they have to create and produce new colour dyes.

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Instant films by The Impossible Project for Polaroid SX-70 and 600-type cameras

 

AT PRESENTinstant-university_yellow-border

“Polaroid has become more than a household name – it has become one of the most recognised and trusted lifestyle brands in the world.” – Scott W. Hardy, President and CEO of Polaroid

At present, Polaroid focuses in producing digital photographic products like Polaroid Snap Instant Digital Camera, Polaroid Cube Action Camera and Polaroid ZIP Instant Photoprinter. Hopefully Polaroid still has a role in the future of photography.

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HIST 1010 Lecture 4: Numbers you must know about Polaroid

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INSTANT FACTSinstant-university_yellow-border

1. In 1960’s, a Polaroid marketing executive estimated that 1/2 of the households in the United States have acquired Polaroid cameras.

2. In 1977, the company celebrated the 30th anniversary of instant photography with a $100,000 party. More than 6 million Polaroid cameras were sold that year.

3. That pioneering by Dr. Land, who held 533 US patents by the time he retired in 1982, is the second highest to Thomas Edison’s 1,093.

4. Land had guided Polaroid as the founding CEO for 43 years.

HIST 1010 Lecture 2: The Polaroid magic (1920’s – 1980’s)

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INTRODUCTIONinstant-university_yellow-border

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Polaroid Corporation, which started in Cambridge, is best known for its instant films and cameras. You may not know that it’s initial market was polarised sunglasses. During this lecture, you are going to look through Polaroid’s heyday and its lasting impacts.

 

THE FOUNDER OF POLAROID – EDWIN LAND
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Land set up a research laboratory at his home in his teenage, started experiments on the first light polarisers in sheet form and to establish the applied science of polarised light. He thought that a polariser would look like a sheet of plastic or glass and that would be practical and convenient to use. In 1929, Land obtained his first patent ever.

He founded the Land-Wheelright Laboratories with his professor to continue his polarisation studies. Later this lab was renamed the Polaroid Corporation. As head of the company, Dr. Land never diversified into other businesses, sold out to another company or borrowed money on a long-term basis.

 

MILESTONESinstant-university_yellow-border

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1947

Polaroid Land Camera was demonstrated publicly

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1948

Polaroid Land Camera was put on sale before Christmas

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1950

Black and White instant film was introduced

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1960

15 second pictures and automatic exposure technology

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1963

Color film and film cartridges

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Edwin Land demonstrating Polaroid color instant photograhy (Credits: The Life Picture Collection)

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1965

Low priced Swinger

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Late 1960’s

Polaroid invited the world’s best-known photographers like Andy Warhol, Ansel Adams and William Wegman, providing them free film and studio space and asked them to take some photos and gave them few prints back in the Polaroid Artists Collection

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Andy Warhol with Polaroid SX-70

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1971

The Square Shooter was introduced

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1972

SX-70 was introduced

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Edwin Land with Polaroid SX-70 on the cover of LIFE

a pocket-sized, self-developing Polaroid camera + 1 inch thick, 7 inches long

A thin sheet contained 8 separated chemical sheets protected by an “opacifer” layer that kept out the sun’s rays while the picture developed outside the camera. Each of the 8 layers respond to a different light frequency when exposed, resulting in brilliant color. Because the dye was metallic, the finished product didn’t fade except when exposed to extreme light for prolonged periods. Polaroid’s main competitor, Kodak, has yet to master this difficult process in its own film.

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1977

Instant Home Movie camera was introduced

 

IMPACTinstant-university_yellow-border

Since Polaroid was established, the Eastman Kodak Company brought the Land polarisers as camera filters. Since Polaroid was incorporated, they began to graft polariser technology onto many products such as 3D movies and glare-reducing googles for dogs.

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The invention of instant camera changed the picture-taking habits of people around the globe. In response to his 3-year-old daughter’s bewilderment about why the camera could not produce a photo immediately, he was inspired to make “a camera that would produce developed photographs as soon as its shutter clicked”. He termed it instant photography.

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Time magazine has described the basic process for instant photography in this way: “A negative inside the camera is exposed and then brought into contact with a positive print sheet. Both are then drawn between a pair of rollers, which breaks a tiny pod of jelly-like chemicals that spread across the sheet, producing a finished picture in seconds.

During World War II (1939-1945), Polaroid designed and manufactured numerous products for military, including colored filters for rangefinders and periscopes and an infrared night viewing device polarising.

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In 1947, Land demonstrated the Polaroid Land Camera with film publicly, and started selling during the Christmas season next year. The camera was a huge success and would remain on the market for 50 years thereafter. Polaroid’s products under Land gained wide acceptance. At present, there are still millions of followers on instant photography.

HIST 1010 Lecture 1: Edwin Land – Life in an instant

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EDWIN HERBERT LANDinstant-university_yellow-border

Nationally

American

Occupation

Physicist, Scientist, Inventor 

Education

Harvard University

Famously known as

Co-founder of the Polaroid Corporation

Born

May 7, 1909

Died

March 1, 1991

 

QUOTESinstant-university_yellow-border

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“An essential aspect of creativity is not being afraid to fail.”

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“You always start with a fantasy.”

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“If you sense a deep human need, then you go back to all the basic science. If there is some missing, then you try to do more basic science and applied science until you get it.”

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“The purpose of inventing instant photography was essentially aesthetic.”

 

BIOGRAPHYinstant-university_yellow-border

Edwin Land was born in Connecticut, United States in 1909.

In 1929, when Land was still an undergraduate in Harvard University, he created polariser, an optical filter which passes light of specific polarised light and blocks waves of other polarised light, at the age of 20.
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The technology of polariser has a wide range of applications. It was used in the production of sunglasses, military hardware and color animation.
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In 1937, the Polaroid Corporation was officially established.

In 1939, Polaroid created color animation for jukeboxes, 3D glasses for movies, and the ability to dim light coming through a window.
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In 1943, Land’s 3-year-old daughter asked him why she could not see the photo immediately after it was taken. He felt a rush of inspiration.

His answer to this? 4 years later in 1947, Polaroid one-step instant camera, the world’s first instant camera was invented.
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In late 1948, this never-before-seen camera – called the Polaroid Land Camera – hit stores shelves, made an instant success and took the world by storm. It was available in sepia tones only.
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In 1950, Polaroid’s first instant camera using black and white film was born. It was popular for both military and civilian photography.

Harvard University awarded Land an honorary doctorate in 1957 for his lifetime of scientific achievement.

Polacolor, the first instant camera using color film was introduced in 1963.
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Land was a pioneer as a manager of Polaroid. In 1960’s he hired women and minorities for management and research positions ahead of many other firms.

In 1971, Land formulated and introduced Retinex theory – both the eyes and the brain are involved in the processing.

In 1972, Land introduced Polaroid SX-70 – a camera with the picture emerging from the camera automatically. It has become one of the most popular products and increased the company’s revenue by 4 times from 1961 to 1972.
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A failure of film venture called Polavision was a financial disaster to the company. Land resigned as Chairperson of Polaroid in 1980.

After retiring, Land founded the ‘Rowland Institute for Science’ to go on his research on optics. His lab eventually discovered how color is perceived in the human brain.

In 1991, Edwin Land died in Cambridge, at the age of 81.

(Credits: Polaroid)