The Rise and Fall of Polaroid

Reading between the lines.
Oct. 5 2012 11:07 PM

The Rise and Fall of Polaroid

Polaroid was once the Apple Computer of the mid-20th century.

In the middle of the last century, Polaroid was the coolest technology company on earth. Founded in Cambridge, Mass., in 1937, Polaroid created a field—instant photography—all its own, and completely owned it for decades. Under its visionary founder-scientist, Edwin Herbert Land, Polaroid grew from wonky startup to high-tech path-breaker to familiar piece of Americana—inspiring a young Land acolyte, Steve Jobs, along the way. In the digital era, all photography is instant photography. Yet there remains something magical about a physical print that develops in your hand. Chris Bonanos explored this modern affection for an obsolete medium in his book Instant: The Story of Polaroid, from which this slideshow is drawn.

The Rise and Fall of Polaroid Slideshow


Christopher Bonanos is an editor at New York magazine and the author of Instant: The Story of Polaroid.



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