Though it was touch-and-go the first year, as awful production problems had to be ironed out. In , a billion Polaroid photos were taken. A few years later, the company reached a billion dollars in annual sales. Until the Apple-Samsung judgment of —yet another parallel! A very special and enormous camera, shooting giant images 20 by 24 inches that have to be seen to be believed, has been used by everyone from Andy Warhol to Chuck Close to Mary Ellen Mark, and is still in operation.
And then it all came apart. In the late s, Land pushed through a product line that his colleagues knew to be a dog: He insisted it would take off, and it bombed. Suddenly Land was fallible, after a spotless year record, and in , he was nudged into retirement. His two immediate successors had worked for Polaroid for decades, and they made some good choices and some less good ones. Instead they doubled down on selling and refining instant film, and built up some debt fighting off a hostile takeover. Since , Polaroid has declared bankruptcy twice and been sold three times.
Camera production ceased in ; film production, in The current Polaroid is not the innovation engine that Land built. Their early products were extremely flawed but promising; the recent film is much improved, with significant further improvements due in Much more about the particulars here. It is a fine-arts story, showcasing the amazing things people did with Polaroid film. It is a technology story, of a company that created and maintained a niche all its own for 60 years.
And it is a pop-culture history, of a friendly product that millions of people absolutely adored. I like to think that it also tells a larger story, about the rise and fall of American invention and manufacturing. It is available as the expression goes in all fine bookstores. The Story of Polaroid, pointed out to me, was probably done to squeeze them into a standard-sized frame or […]. Drawing on interviews and previously hidden archives—which went […].
You immediately caught my attention with the story you told us. Now for the english class we have to write about a innovation that had lasting impacts. Just wanted to say thanks for opening my eyes into such an amazing story and helping me come with a great essay idea.
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The Story of Polaroid by Christopher Bonanos. The Story of Polaroid, chronicles the history of instant cameras. Instant tells the remarkable tale of Land's one-of-a-kind invention-from Polaroid's first instant camera to hit the market in , to its meteoric rise in popularity and adoption by artists such as Ansel Adams, Andy Warhol, and Chuck Close, to the company's dramatic decline into bankruptcy in the late '90s and its unlikely resurrection in the digital age. Instant is both an inspiring tale of American ingenuity and a cautionary business tale about the perils of companies that lose their creative edge.
Hardcover , pages. To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. To ask other readers questions about Instant , please sign up. Lists with This Book. Dec 12, William Ramsay rated it it was ok. This book was a bit disappointing to me. Of course, the fact that I spent my entire work career at Polaroid may have something to do with my take on the company and why I feel Bonanos didn't get it quite right. I joined Polaroid in and was not a part of the early years, which the author covers quite interestingly.
Where he fails to win my praise is in the two areas. First, he gives too much credit - and spends too much time - talking about the affect Polaroid had on the arts. True, Andy War This book was a bit disappointing to me.
True, Andy Warhol did use a Polaroid, but I think that should be a footnote and not a main focus. The other part, and where he really dropped the print coater is in describing the decline of the company. In the early eighties I was a forecaster for film sales and we showed clearly that over time film sales would declined to the point of insustainability. No one believed us, even when we showed that out estimates were accurate year after year within three percent. I finally had to move to a different job within the company because the VP's said I was always too negative.
People refused to believe that Polaroid prints could be supplanted by something else.
Instant: The Story of Polaroid
I saw my first digital photo print about I thought it was better than a Polaroid and that was the very birth of digital. The general consensus was that digital would never be as good a Polaroid. Even when HP was printing 8x10 glossies for about fifty cents, the powers that be thought we could compete by offering a printer that would spit out a Polaroid print for about a dollar. Needless to say, we ended up with warehouses full of the ridiculous printer.
I could go on and on. Digital photography and terrible management killed a company that could have been a player in digital printing. I have no regrets. Polaroid was a great company to work for and I did very well there. I just wish that a little more blame was handed out and less gushing over the celebrity photographers who used the product. The story of Polaroid should be a case study for business majors and not a love object for the nostalgic. Oct 01, Jenn Ravey rated it really liked it.
From the book cover: Instant tells the remarkable tale of Edwin Land's one-of-a-kind invention - from Polaroid's first instant camera to hit the market in to its meteoric rise in popularity and adoption by artists such as Ansel Adams, Andy Warhol, and Chuck Close, to the company's dramatic decline into bankruptcy in the late '90s and its unlikely resurrection in the digital age.
Instant is both an inspiring tale of American ingenuity and a cautionary business tale about the perils of compan From the book cover: I've been fascinated by photography for many years, own about 8 cameras, took a photography course in college, and stare lovingly at my Hasselblad, who patiently waits on my bookshelf for another outing. Last Christmas I asked for a Fuji Instax camera, recalling the days my grandmother and grandfather would show me the "magic" of the Polaroid film.
What Christopher Bonanos does with Polaroid's history is a bit magical itself, briefly discussing the history of film photography up to Eastman's camera "marketed with the slogan 'You push the button, we do the rest,' and the little roll of celluloid inside it built an empire" before delving into Polaroid and its creativity.
Even knowing the outcome of Polaroid's business practices, I was tense reading about the ever-evolving world of film cameras. Bonanos lends suspense to the creative process, showing that "the next big thing" actually has to be discovered about four or five years before production if a company wants to stay ahead. Land was proud of his labs, making the rounds and checking out what his team produced.
Bonanos tells the story of Howard Rogers and Land's request that he start thinking about color instant film in the late 40s. Two years later, Rogers approached him, and in , Land said, "My point is that we created an environment where a man was expected to sit and think for two years. Bonanos also emphasizes Polaroid's and Land's devotion to art photography, an aspect of the book I loved, considering I had no idea how instrumental Ansel Adams was in the development of better and better film and focus: Back came reports packed with detail, containing rows of photos at varying exposures or apertures.
Eventually he filed more than 3, of these memoranda. You should first do all that work It reduces everything to your brains and taste. Land's devotion to instant photography not just as product but as an art form is fascinating and reminiscent of Steve Jobs and his own demand for beauty. This is a business model that is dangerous but sexy in its forethought. Because, as Bonanos emphasizes toward the end of the book, these are men who aren't making the products people want.
They're making the products people don't know they want. There's genius there, and that's what drives businesses like Polaroid, and frankly it's why there are still so many aficionados today, which Bonanos discusses in the last chapter of Instant. I remember a few years ago the mad dash for Polaroid films, and people were making a killing on ebay, even with expired packs.
Polaroid is an icon, and even all these many years later, people appreciate the thought behind the first Polaroid, the question Land's daughter supposedly asked him in View all 3 comments. Mar 28, Rebecca McNutt rated it liked it. I love Polaroid, I've got an old Polaroid camera at home myself, and I love how it's like a mini darkroom encased inside the plastic box. This book has its moments, but it really got on my nerves the way it kept comparing Polaroid to Apple.
I don't give a damn about Apple, I don't buy any Apple products, nor do I appreciate them being shoved at me from the pages of a totally unrelated book. Polaroid was a company that made film cameras in the 's, not a company that turns perfectly normal peop I love Polaroid, I've got an old Polaroid camera at home myself, and I love how it's like a mini darkroom encased inside the plastic box. Polaroid was a company that made film cameras in the 's, not a company that turns perfectly normal people into texting zombies the way Apple does.
I don't get it, was this book all just a way for Apple to promote itself? Oct 03, Patti rated it really liked it. This book brought me back to all those times the Polaroid camera came out when we were growing up and made me smile as I remembered my dad's delight in the instant results of the picture taking. It is a fascinating story of a company dominated by its founder and the amazing things he and it accomplished because of the go for it culture he established. The stories of the early inventions were fascinating such as the Polaroid Sight-Conditioning train window.
After Land left the company, the stories This book brought me back to all those times the Polaroid camera came out when we were growing up and made me smile as I remembered my dad's delight in the instant results of the picture taking. After Land left the company, the stories of the products that could have been illustrate how tentative a company's success is.
By , talk was afoot of taking it into production. The company's marketing talk subtly shifted during these years, too"'the leader in instant photography' became 'the leader in instant imaging. Unfortunately, it would also render everything else the company made obsolete, and that spooked people. And there'd be no competitive advantage on the hardware side in the consumer arena, because there's Nikon and Sony and Canon and a host of others. If Polaroid had played its hand a little differently, the computer on your desk wouldn't be attached to a Hewlett-Packard inkjet printer; you'd have a nifty little PolaJet, printing photos on high-quality, high-profit-margin Polaroid paper.
The margin on Polajet refill cartridges would be similarly wide, and you'd buy them for years - that is, until Polaroid rolled out the next-generation printer, whereupon you'd run out and upgrade because it was just so cool. It'd probably be wireless,too.
- Violin Concerto, Op. 54 - Study Score.
- The Book | Polaroidland.
- Instant: The Story of Polaroid by Christopher Bonanos;
Feb 27, Brooks rated it liked it. Story of Polaroid covers the rise and fall of an innovation company. Polaroid was started by an creative and controlling leader named Land. Polaroid started in the s making polarizing lens. Land became a major figure. Over the next 20 years, they develop instant film. Much of their products had initial technical issues - images fading, ha Story of Polaroid covers the rise and fall of an innovation company.
Much of their products had initial technical issues - images fading, having to place the developer on the film after it was ejected, but were so innovative that consumers were willing to deal with these bugs. Kodak eventually saw the little upstart as real competition and refused to make the negatives with the launch of the SX This required Polaroid to invest heavily in building their own capacity - they had typically contract manufactured most items. This was the start of the end.
Kodak then made their own instant camera, launch a 15 year patent war. Nov 18, Ang rated it liked it. I was surprised by how quickly this read, but also disappointed with it. It started fast, and then An easy and fascinating read. The book revealed a lot about the Polaroid Land camera that I was unaware of. Land's fascination with fine and contemporary art was a revelation.
The parallels with Apple are fascinating. You'll enjoy this if 1 you used a Polaroid camera at some point, 2 you are interested in innovative people, or 3 you want to see how changes in technology affect us all. Mar 22, Artemis rated it it was amazing. What an amazing read this was to me. I've been shooting film and polaroid since the beginnings of I'm so inspired and in awe at Edwin Land's life long focus to make instant photography for what it turned out to be. Snap shot of Polaroid A well written book that offers a snapshot of the iconic company and brand.
I would have like to dig in a little more into the business side of things and learned more about Land, but overall a good quick read. For anyone with interest in Polaroid history Excellent history of Land and the ideas and philosophy he created. A great review of a great man. What made American business great. Jul 08, Darren Nelson rated it liked it. A longer wikipedia entry basically. Dec 13, Prajwal rated it liked it. I had heard of Polaroid but all I knew of it was the Polaroid Instant Camera, the one where you click and it spits out an instant image.
I remember many years back, we had the Polaroid Studio where we used to get instant passport size snaps. The Genius Edwin Land: To be totally honest, I had never heard of Edwin Land till I read this book. But only the first couple of pages should be enough to convince how much of a genius he was. He advised several presidents from Eisenhower through Nixon on technology,and effectively created the u-2 spy plane. He was a super salesman and he would make an event out of his new product launches. A trend which was later followed by Jobs. In the sixties he has a vision of how photography should be, his vision was to create a device, compact enough to fit in pocket which people could use day in and day out to document their everyday life.
Instant: The Story of Polaroid - PopMatters
We all have read the polarization effect. Waves of light, as they come at you, vibrate in every plane, vertically, horizontally, and at all angles in between. Certain crystal structures can function as gratings, allowing through light that vibrates in just one plane. If you picture the beam of light as a handful of thrown straws, oriented in every direction, the polarizing filter is a picket fence. The only straws that come through are the ones that align with the slots between pickets.
Polaroid became a multimillionaire company by selling polarized sheets. Can you imagine that 3-d glasses used even now and concept was first invented by Edwin Lane!! Simplest application of polarization shoot movie using two cameras with an inch difference in between and project 2 different images to both eyes. The magic here is by the fence we talked about above, we have vertical fence on left eye and horizontal fence on right eye and we can control which eye can see what.
Since both eyes see two different images, our brain calculates the depth perception. The parallels with Apple: Apple was a recurring theme while reading this book. Both companies started out with something different that what they ended up doing after 20 years from start. Land was Polaroid as was Jobs used to be Apple. It was a 1 billion settlement between these two in and was the biggest patent-infringement judgment ever. These are kinda the huge similarities but thought-out the book we see a lot of similarities between Apple and Polaroid.
I can just say history repeats. The Before and After: The biggest similarity between Apple and Polaroid is the vision and audacity of its visionaries. As one employee put it, The engineering department refused to accept the bad taste of the consumer. Their exit from their respective companies made a fatal difference to the outlook of the company.
Land and Jobs both believed that every significant invention. After their exit, both Tim Cook Apple and Booth Poloroid asked the world what it wanted, then made it Nov 27, Breakingviews rated it liked it. By Quentin Webb Polaroid reinvented photography, but faded away. They could not be duplicated easily, let alone transmitted electronically. In , though, they were revolutionary. It took hours, not minutes, to develop conventional film. The upstart company became a tech sensation.
The public was smitten, as were artists such as By Quentin Webb Polaroid reinvented photography, but faded away. The public was smitten, as were artists such as Andy Warhol. Colour film arrived in The cameras peaked with the stylish, foldaway SX, introduced in Technological triumph bred stunning financial success: Founder Edwin Land was central. His incredible inventiveness - patents - may be hard to emulate, but other ingredients are more replicable. Research was lavishly funded. Land hired smart female graduates long before stuffier corporations would.
And he brought new innovations to market fast, even if they required later tweaks or fixes. A string of less dazzling leaders followed Land.
A successful patent battle with photography giant Kodak lasted 14 distracting years. Like Kodak, Polaroid could see digital coming from a long way off, but fumbled its response. Fat margins in the core film business probably clouded thinking. So did technical snobbery: Bonanos skimps on financials, which is unfortunate: The book also gets one key figure wrong.
It states that OEP made a 70 percent profit on the flip to Petters. There is also a serious omission: The instant photo company was an early corporate target for anti-apartheid campaigners. The Polaroid story has some ironic codas. One is the persistence of the technology. Like vinyl recordings, it appeals to a small group of enthusiasts. An Austrian entrepreneur who is making increasingly good Polaroid-style film sees a market of 10 million packs a year. The striking parallels were covered at length last year by the influential Technologizer blog.
Both Land and Jobs were driven, charismatic perfectionists who shook up consumer electronics, leading rather than following the market. Each started with ideal products that staff struggled to translate into saleable gadgets, and each turned product introductions into coups de theatre. And both dreamt big. That sort of talk may depress shareholder-value advocates - but probably still resonates with entrepreneurs hungry to change the world.
Apple is clearly more successful now than Polaroid ever was.
Still, given the echoes readers may be forgiven for asking: Jan 27, Gary Schroeder rated it really liked it. Looking for an addictive and breezy little non-fiction book that you can polish off on a round trip plane flight? This slim little volume covering the history of one of the most recognizable names in corporate America--and purveyors of one of the world's most memorable products--is written in a friendly, conversational style that really pulled me along.
Everyone except the very youngest among us fondly remember the pre-digital thrill of snapping a photo and seeing the re Looking for an addictive and breezy little non-fiction book that you can polish off on a round trip plane flight? Everyone except the very youngest among us fondly remember the pre-digital thrill of snapping a photo and seeing the results just seconds later. In a time when amateur photographers dropped their film cassette off at the nearest Foto Hut and waited a week for the prints to come back from the lab, Polaroid's instant print was rather magical. Steve Jobs has often been compared to the father of instant film and co-founder of Polaroid, Edwin Land.
They shared the common trait of being passionate visionaries who built a cult-like following of true believers who wanted to work for them. They ran companies that certainly wanted to make money, but that were first and foremost dedicated to the dream of their magical product. Both men were unshakable in their own self-confidence and their unwavering belief in the righteousness of their cause. Land, a fascinating character who has already inspired books covering his life in detail, gets less attention in "Instant" than one might want, but the nature of this book is to brief.
If you're interested in following up for more, you certainly have that option elsewhere. Part biography of Edwin Land and part company history, "Instant" also reviews the technical challenges of creating a self-contained, portable photo developing system, highlighting both its successes and notable shortcomings. Various early incarnations of instant prints curled, discolored or required the application of an inconvenient liquid fixitive following printing. It was a full twenty years after the debut of instant black-and-white Polaroid film that the familiar color prints with their large, white bottom border appeared in the early 70s.
Did you know that Ansel Adams had a decade-long association with Polaroid? Other prominent big names who were advocates of Polaroid film included Chuck Close and Andy Worhol, among others. This is perhaps one of the more surprising aspects of the story. Polaroid was often regarded by connoisseurs as a synonym for inferior photographs meant strictly for the amateur who didn't mind things like soft focus or less than accurate color saturation. But Polaroid produced a number of other far lesser-known instant-film products dedicated to professional applications.