Poloroid Model 95 instant film camera
Poloroid Model 95 instant film camera
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Edwin Land Demonstrates the Polaroid Land Camera Model 95, the First "Instant" Film Camera

2/21/1947
Edwin Land demonstrating an instant Polaroid photograph of himself
Edwin Land demonstrating an instant Polaroid photograph of himself

On February 21, 1947, American inventor Edwin H. Land, founder of Polaroid Corporation in Cambridge, Massachusetts, demonstrated an instant camera and associated film, called the Land Camera, Polaroid originally manufactured sixty units of this first camera, named the Polaroid Land Camera Model 95. It produced prints in about 1 minute. Fifty-seven were offered for sale at the Jordan Marsh department store in Boston before the 1948 Christmas holiday. Polaroid marketers guessed that the camera and film would remain in stock long enough to manufacture a second run based on customer demand, but all 57 cameras and all of the film were sold on the first day. 

As I recall, my mother purchased a Model 95 and used it to take pictures of our young family. It was very exciting and convenient to see the image almost instantly after it was taken, compared to waiting several days or weeks to have film developed and printed. Over the years I owned and used several different later models of the camera. The technology was, of course, superceded by digital photography, but, like its larger cousin Kodak, Polaroid was slow to realize the extent of the disruption, and the final Polaroid "instant" film camera, the Polaroid One 600, was designed as late as 2004, before Polaroid Corporation folded in 2007.

Here is an early, and funny, commercial for the camera. Beneath that is film in which Land speaks about his portable camera in 1970 and his philosophy of instant imaging, which would occur after his death, after the invention of digital photography, and the incorporation of digital cameras into cell phones.

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