Today in History: Polaroid Introduces the First Instant Camera

Today in History: Polaroid Introduces the First Instant Camera

Today in history, Polaroid's founder, Edwin Land, gave his first demonstration of the instant camera at a meeting of the Optical Society of America in New York City in 1947. 

 "There is nothing like this in the history of photography," The New York Times reported enthusiastically after Land's demonstration.

The impetus behind the idea was the inventor's three-year-old daughter, three years earlier. She wanted to know why she couldn't see the pictures taken with the camera right away. Before the Polaroid camera came on the market, cameras were loaded with a roll of film, which had to be developed into photographs, which took time. The resulting instant camera was initially known as the "Land camera". 

The first fifty instant Polaroid cameras went up for sale on November  26, 1948, more than a year after its demonstration at the Optical Society of America. The "instant" picture took 50 seconds to develop and sold for $89.75, about $1,148.57 today. The film was  $1.75, which would be about $22 today. 

In that first year, the camera made over $5 million in sales, the equivalent of nearly $64 million today. By 1956, the Polaroid instant camera had been purchased by one million people. It remained a popular item for the next four decades, and that number grew to over 165 million by the time Polaroid declared bankruptcy in 2001.

 In 2017, Impossible Project bought what was left of Polaroid and rebranded it as Polaroid Originals, reviving the Polaroid brand by embracing modern technology and even bringing back Polaroid instant cameras, including the Polaroid Go and the Polaroid Now Generation. 

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