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.