5 Things You Probably Didn't Know About Polaroid

On February 21, 1947, Edwin Land displayed his Polaroid Land camera, a unique camera that could produce in as little as 60 seconds. Here are 5 interesting facts that you probably  didn't know the company...

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Polaroid Initially Made Sunglasses Polaroid inventor, Edwin Land, came up with the first polarizing material intended for commercial use in 1929 and established the Polaroid Corporation in 1937. But even though Polaroid is known as an instant camera, the company actually started out making sunglasses. More specifically, the company created Polaroid Day Glasses, the first pair of sunglasses that featured a polarizing filter. The glasses were designed to cut out glare instead of darkening the landscape.

Edwin Land's Daughter Inspired the Creation of the First Polaroid Camera While vacationing in Santa Fe, Edwin's daughter — then 3 years old — wondered why the camera being used to take their holiday pictures couldn't produce immediate physical photos. That question inspired him to set out to invent such a camera. His prototype was complete and ready to be shown to the world by 1947, then known as the Polaroid Land Camera with film. It was the world's first one-step, dry-process camera that could produce photos within one minute. It was an instant hit and sold out during the following Christmas season of 1948, and remained on the market for over 50 years.

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The Polaroid Camera Tripled in Size in WWII During the Second World War, Polaroid accepted a $7 million Navy contract to work on Project Dove, a Navy-backed project to create a heat-seeking missile bomb, the first of its kind. This was the most significant contract Polaroid ever had, though the bomb never ended up being used during WWII.
Polaroid's efforts during the war didn't end there, as the company became involved in 3D technology and helped design a trainer whereby students would operate a life-size anti-aircraft gun that simulated a plane's attack. Reconnaissance aircraft were able to take 3D vector graphs that showed relief maps of enemy territory. When combined with polarized glasses, the 3D photos would outline contours of planes, buildings, and even guns.

Polaroid Played a Role in The Medical Imaging Field In addition to its role in producing commercial use cameras and helping the US successfully fight the Second World War, Polaroid has also had its hand in the world of healthcare. In 1993, Polaroid released Helios, a medical laser imaging system that produced medical diagnostic images in as little as 90 seconds. Polaroid's goal was to slash costs for radiology departments all over the world.

Lady Gaga Worked as Polaroid's Creative Director Lady Gaga spent four years working as a creative director for Polaroid. The singer was part of the launch of several products under the Gray Label name, including a pair of camera sunglasses that featured 1.5-inch LCD displays. The glasses served as wearable cameras that could take pictures and be pre-loaded with videos and slideshows. The design of these glasses was inspired by Lady Gaga's Poker Face music video.