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February 21: Polaroid Land Camera

Lawrence Bush
February 20, 2010

Polaroid_Land_Camera_100_IMGP1930_WPEdwin H. Land, a Harvard drop-out, demonstrated the first instant camera (soon to become the Polaroid Land Camera) on this date in 1947. Land, whose parents were scrap metal dealers, had already founded the Polaroid company in 1937 after inventing an inexpensive polarizing filter used in film, sunglasses, optical microscopes and other gadgets. Land was an obsessive inventor who held 535 patents and once wore the same clothes for eighteen straight days while working on a technical problem. Harvard eventually honored him with an honorary doctorate and Cambridge named a street for him. After the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1968, Land instituted a dynamic affirmative action program at Polaroid.
“Science is a method to keep yourself from kidding yourself.”
— Edwin Land

​​​​Lawrence Bush edited Jewish Currents from 2003 until 2018. He is the author of Bessie: A Novel of Love and Revolution and Waiting for God: The Spiritual Explorations of a Reluctant Atheist, among other books. His new volume of illustrated Torah commentaries, American Torah Toons 2, is scheduled for publication this year.