THE POLAROID PROJECT
THE LAST HURRAH
- STORY: The Polaroid Project: The last hurrah & a word from photographer Judy Lutz
- PHOTO GALLERY: Polaroids by Judy Lutz
- VIDEO: Naples Daily News photographer Judy Lutz talks about her Polaroids. GOODBYE, POLAROID
- STORY: The Polaroid Project: Goodbye
- STORY: Timeline of the Polaroid Camera
- PHOTO GALLERY: Your Photos: Reader-submitted photos from The Polaroid Project
- VIDEO: Readers share stories about their treasured Polaroid memories POLAROID MEMORIES
- VIDEO: The Polaroid Project Interview: Lisa Mair
- VIDEO: The Polaroid Project Interview: John and Alice Good
- VIDEO: The Polaroid Project Interview: Jorge Velasquez
- VIDEO: The Polaroid Project Interview: Tom Falciglia
- VIDEO: The Polaroid Project Interview: Jeri Borchers
- VIDEO: The Polaroid Project interview: Rosalie Tavilla VIDEOS OF POLAROID EVENTS
- VIDEO: Naples St. Patrick's Day Parade 2008
- VIDEO: Cross display honors fifth year of Iraq War.
- VIDEO: Sights and sounds from the 6th annual Langerado Festival
- VIDEO: Spend a day behind the scenes with the Hooters girls
By the end of the year, one of the most potent and revolutionary tools for capturing these little instant histories will be rendered obsolete: In February, Polaroid announced that it would pretty much stop making its instant film. The cameras, both consumer and commercial, had disappeared to little notice over the last two years. Polaroid had a good run, though.
A pioneer and largely self-taught physicist, Edwin H. Land was inspired to create the process, which borrowed from his early discoveries in polarized lenses, to satisfy his 3-year-old daughter’s wish to see a photograph instantly. He released his first camera in 1948, a rolled film unit called the Polaroid Land Camera. It was sold in Boston at Jordan Marsh stores for $89.95. Sales for that first year alone exceeded $5 million, according to Polaroid.
There were more cameras, of course, a dizzying array of models with kicky names. The Swinger. The Big Shot. The Memory Maker. The SX-70. The OneStep. The Spectra. The i-Zone. And others.
Buying one made you feel smart, an experimenter who was a little hip, like that guy who can quote Updike off the cuff at parties. It was "the simplest camera in the world," the bantering James Garner and Mariette Hartley assured you in now emblematic TV ads of the ’70s and ’80s. You were the life of the party now.
1929: Harvard University drop-out Edwin H. Land files the patent for the first synthetic polarizer. The research is eventually spun off into sunglasses, glare-reducing airplane windows, 3-D glasses, the Polaroid camera and many other products. He will eventually hold more patents than anyone except Thomas Edison.
1948: The first Polaroid Land camera, a Model 95, is sold at Boston’s Jordan Marsh department store for $89.95.
1954: Steven Allen begins live commercials for Polaroid on the "Tonight Show."
1964: The five millionth Polaroid Land camera, an Automatic 100, comes off an Arkansas assembly line.
1971: The Big Shot Land Camera, which is designed to take flash color portraits, debuts. Andy Warhol becomes its best-known user.
1972: The SX-70 system is introduced. The camera is fully automatic, motorized, folding, single-lens reflex which ejects self developing, self-timing color prints. Sir Laurence Olivier becomes a spokesman for the camera in a series of TV and radio ads.
1976: Sales of Polaroid cameras exceed six million units.
1977: The OneStep Land Camera is the best-selling camera in the U.S. for more than four years. Mariette Hartley and James Garner star in the TV ads. This year Polaroid sales exceed $1 billion.
1986: The Spectra camera debuts at Jordan Marsh in Boston, the same store that introduced the Model 95 Land Camera 38 years earlier.
1991: Polaroid receives $925 million from Kodak, settling a patent infringement case alleging Kodak copied a Polaroid innovation in color film development 14 years earlier.
March 1, 1991: Land dies at 81.
1998: The OneStep is the world’s No. 1 selling camera.
1999: 9.7 million instant cameras are sold. The iZone Pocket camera and "sticker" film are introduced.
2001: Polaroid files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.
2004: Polaroid introduces a new line of six instant cameras.
2005: Polaroid is acquired by a private investment company, Peters Group Worldwide, for about $426 million.
2008: In February, the company announces that it would discontinue production of its instant film, a move which followed the exit of all instant cameras over the last two years.