The most recognizable camera in the world
The history of Polaroid began in 1922 at the Mouven Summer Camp for Boys, which was located on a lake in Connecticut. Barney Griden worked as a mentor in the camp, he was passionate about physics and later patented eight inventions for scuba diving.
Barney demonstrated scientific experiments to teenagers, woke them in the middle of the night to show a thunderstorm and explain its nature. Seen experiments so influenced his students that in the future many of them took up science.
The most famous among those students was Edwin Land, he patented 535 inventions – only Thomas Edison received more patents. Land’s inventions include a polarizer, an X-ray film, 3D films, night vision devices for the army, and much more. The scientist led the development of the U2 spy plane when he was an adviser to U.S. President Dwight Eisenhower.
Land’s main achievement is the Polaroid company he founded, which in the mid-1970s sold about one billion cameras per year. It was Land who founded the prototype of Silicon Valley, and Apple founder Steve Jobs called him his idol all his life.
Edwin Land was the grandson of Ukrainian Jews Avram and Ella Solomonovich. His grandparents fled to the United States due to anti-Semitism in Ukraine. Upon arrival, the family announced that the plane “landed” (landed). Solomonovich did not know the language, there was confusion at the airport, so they were registered under the name Land.
One day, returning at night in a car, Edwin Land and his other students nearly crashed into a herd of horses on the road. The driver did not notice the animals due to the dim headlights. Then Land decided to come up with a way to increase the intensity of car headlights and reduce glare for safe driving at night.
Land has been trying for years to incorporate light polarizers into headlights. Along the way, the scientist developed a number of inventions that he turned into a business and successfully sold.
At 17, Edwin Land dropped out of Harvard University after his first year of study. His father not only supported the decision of his son, but also gave money so that he would move to New York. All his time, Land devoted the invention of a synthetic polarizer, which was described by his mentor Griden in a children’s camp.
Columbia University’s public library and physics laboratory were the only public places the young scientist came to. Edwin was able to develop a ray distribution method. This discovery formed the basis of polarizers used in calculators, watches, chamber filters, sunglasses and microscopes.
After Land returned to Harvard, but just as quickly dropped out of university again to open a company with his physics teacher George Willire. Having gained access to the university’s laboratories, Land produced sheets of polarizing material. In 1929, Edwin applied for a patent and five years later received it. For several years, the scientist tried to sell his invention to automobile companies, but could not.
In 1932, Edwin Land and George Willire founded the Land Willire Laboratory. They worked in the laboratory themselves, their wives and several colleagues. The enterprise did not have commercial success; in the midst of the Great Depression, the company incurred losses.
Eastman Kodak came to the rescue, which ordered $ 10,000 worth of polarizing filters from the laboratory. These filters increased contrast and reduced glare in photographs taken in bright light.
The developed material is called Polaroid. In 1935, the laboratory agreed with the American optical company on the release of Polaroid sunglasses, which not only darkened the landscape, but also removed glare. The production of Polaroid Day Glasses has for many years become a stable source of income. In 1939, production brought the company a profit of $ 35 thousand.
Polaroid during the war years
In 1937, Land founded the Polaroid Corporation. Initially, the company had eight shareholders and a budget of $ 375 thousand for inventions. Shareholders invested this amount in Land’s ideas, giving him a casting vote and control over the company for the next decade. In 1940, Land’s partner, Willire, left the business, he became a navy lieutenant and never returned to the company.
Land tried to introduce inventions into the auto industry and suggested that manufacturers show the headlight system at a New York fair, but he was refused. Only Chrysler agreed on its screen to demonstrate the 3D-film, which was developed by the company Land. The audience liked the effects of Polaroid glasses. Filmmakers ignored the new technology.
The same fate befell yet another invention of Land – dimming windows. Passengers using the handle could darken the windows to complete impermeability. The new development was not widespread and was forgotten.
Forty years brought Polaroid losses of $ 100 thousand. Despite the fact that in 1941 sales of Polaroid glasses rose to one million dollars, the company was in poor condition.