It’s been 70 years of instant photography, thanks to Edwin Land, on the left. AP Photo
It probably happens every minute of the day: A little girl demands to see the photo her parent has just taken of her.
Today, thanks to smartphones and other digital cameras, we can see snapshots immediately, whether we want to or not.
But in 1944 when 3-year-old Jennifer Land asked to see the family vacation photo that her dad had just taken, the technology didn’t exist.
So her dad, Edwin Land, invented it.The original Polaroid camera freed users from needing to trek to a darkroom to develop their images.
Three years later, after plenty of scientific development, Land and his Polaroid Corporation realized the miracle of nearly instant imaging.
The film exposure and processing hardware are contained within the camera; there’s no muss or fuss for the photographer who just points and shoots and then watches the image materialize on the photo once it spools out of the camera.
Land is probably best known for the “instant photo” – or the spiritual progenitor of today’s ubiquitous selfie. His Polaroid camera was first released commercially in 1948 at retail locations and prices aimed at the postwar middle class.
But this is just one of a host of technological breakthroughs Land invented and commercialized, most of which centered around light and how it interacts with materials.
The technology used to show a 3D movie and the goggles we wear in the theater were made possible by Land and his colleagues. The camera aboard the U-2 spy plane, as featured in the movie “Bridge of Spies,” was a Land product, as were even some aspects of the plane’s mechanics.
He also worked on theoretical problems, drawing on a deep understanding of both chemistry and physics.