First Instant Camera
Edwin Land 1909-1991

Digital cameras and camcorders make real-time photography the norm, but it was not always that way. In 1944, Edwin Land, the founder of the Polaroid Corporation, was asked by his three-year-old daughter why she could not see the picture he had just taken of her. Her request translated into the Polaroid Land Camera, the first instant camera offered for sale in November of 1948.

The creation of this camera made Land famous, but he engaged in research and development of optic devices his entire life. During World War II, the Polaroid Company invented infrared filters, dark adaptation goggles, and target finders. Land's contributions to the war effort earned him the Medal of Freedom, the highest honor awarded to a civilian. With 500 U.S. patents, Land is second only to Edison in the number of U.S. patents held.

 Insisting on the Impossible: The Life of Edwin Land
by Victor K. McElheny