History Of The Polaroid Camera
Edwin Land invented the Polaroid Camera as a response to his daughter's desire to see their vacation photos right away.
Although Edwin Land is rightly credited with inventing the Polaroid Camera, it was his daughter who conceived of the idea. Land took his family on a vacation and his daughter complained that it would be weeks before she could see the pictures. Her idea preyed on Land's mind.
"Why should photographic development take so long," he asked himself. "Why can't it be instant?"
Land, a successful engineer, worked on the concept that the whole photographic process from taking the image to seeing the finished product shouldn't last longer than 60 seconds. To accomplish this feat, it was necessary to deliver the developing chemicals to the image, wait for just the right time, and then fix the processing so the image would not burn into the film.
Traditionally, the negative onto which the image was set at first and the print made from that negative were separate, but Land wondered if the whole photographic process could be condensed to a single sheet of paper.
There were several tricks involved in making that dream a reality. First Land decided to make the film negative and the finished picture the same size. Then he devised a "pod" of chemicals inside a weak plastic pouch which could be activated as soon as the film was advanced. After taking the picture, the photographer pulled the film by hand out of the camera. As the pod passed between rollers in the camera, the chemicals were dispersed over the negative evenly.
The developed film had to be shielded from light as it developed the image. Too much light at this stage caused the image to go black, but when shaded from direct light, the chemical developer created a high-contrast black and white image. Left unattended, the chemicals would burn the photographic image and turn the picture to black, but Land developed a special cellulose fixer which was impregnated with fixer at the factory and stored inside a plastic applicator which stayed sealed inside a plastic tube so it wouldn't dry out.
The result was that people could now get their pictures right away.
When the Polaroid Land Camera was introduced in the 1950s, it was an immediate sensation, but after the novelty wore off, the camera earned a regular place in the photographic industry.
Professional photographers use the Polaroid image to frame pictures before starting to shoot 35 mm images. Little mistakes came across in the instant picture which helped avoid costly re-shoots later. Contractors and housing inspectors use instant pictures to prove that a job is properly done. Police use Polaroid cameras when they can't wait for traditional photos for an identification.
Thanks to the impatience of one little girl, the whole photographic industry changed its tune.