Synonymous with photographs, memory and nostalgia, the Polaroid brand has been one of the leading and most trusted brands for over 70 years. As the pioneer of "instant" photography, the firm has moved forward and evolved with the market demands, and is still at the very top of the list when a consumer thinks of cameras, film and photographic solutions.
It would be better to tell the story in pictures, but since that isn't possible, let's discover just how this firm came to be and how it built itself into such an iconic brand.
It began in 1926 when Harvard University student Edwin H. Land dropped out and began to study light polarization. Within two years, he had filed his first patent for a synthetic polarizer - known as Polaroid film. In 1932 he worked with one of his former professors to form the Land-Wheelwright Laboratories, and began attempting to commercialize on his discoveries.
He was able to get funding from early investors and named the firm Polaroid Corporation. Though they initially applied their technology to glasses and goggles, they discovered that it had a broad range of applications. In fact, in 1939 they were able to produce a 3D movie using their Polaroid 3D glasses. Its display at the 1939 World's Fair in New York City is the first time an American audience experienced a 3D movie.
While on a family holiday in 1943, Land's daughter asked why she can't see the photo he had just taken of her with a standard camera, and this inspired him to apply what he had already discovered about polarized film to "instant photography". He would achieve his goal only a few years later and release the "Land Camera" in time for the Christmas holidays of 1948.
By 1956, there would be one million Polaroid cameras (not all instant models), and distribution would be global with products in more than 40 countries. Even though all of the earliest models were black and white, they sold in tremendous quantities. When, in 1963, they introduced the first color instant film, things really exploded.
To ensure that "serious" photographers would enjoy the use of the cameras, Polaroid also made their Model 100 Land Camera that provided exposure controls. By the 1960s, Polaroid had a strong hold on the market with models available for younger people as well as advanced photographers. Things did not slow down into the 1970s either since they introduced their first folding instant camera, and were soon making 5k units every day. They improved on this design, and in 1977 released the OneStep, which became the best selling model.
Throughout the 1980s and 90s, Polaroid kept right on innovating, introducing an instant portrait camera, a sleeker version of the OneStep, and a miniature instant camera known as the iZone capable of producing "thumbnail" prints instantly. To address some shifts within photography as the era of DSLRs began, they created a mobile printer as well as an instant digital camera. In 2011 they introduced a mobile instant printer that linked to a mobile device and created prints from the files selected. The digital emphasis continues to this day with the Z2300 available as well as the innovative "Cube". A 35mm camera in a weatherproof and shockproof housing and featuring advanced lenses as well as video.
Interestingly enough, in 2008, Polaroid announced it would not produce instant film products any longer. This caused such an outrage that a relaunch was created in partnership with an online vendor who had snatched up 500k packages of the film when it was announced that none would be available. This has resulted in two types of film and several camera styles.
Additionally, the range of products available from Polaroid include:
Action sports cameras -
These are not instant cameras but a wide range of cameras meant to be used with specialized accessories that allow them to capture watersports, cycling and more
One of the oldest and most trusted names in photography, Polaroid is a brand to turn to when you need a camera of any kind.
Polaroid.com. History. http://polaroid.stage.publishwithagility.com/history