Instant: The Story of Polaroid
Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub
"Instant photography at the push of a button!" During the 1960s and '70s, Polaroid was the coolest technology company on earth. Like Apple, it was an innovation machine that cranked out one must-have product after another. Led by its own visionary genius founder, Edwin Land, Polaroid grew from a 1937 garage start-up into a billion-dollar pop-culture phenomenon. Instant tells the remarkable tale of Land's one-of-a-kind invention-from Polaroid's first instant camera to hit the market in 1948, 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.
so small,” she explained, “when you put them on a white board, they become diminutive. If they have a tonality around them, they open up, like Persian miniatures.” She got her colors, though she wasn’t able to persuade Szarkowski to repaint the gallery to match. Color, black-and-white, automatic cameras, and even fields that didn’t pan out, like photocopier technology: They were all created by independent teams at Polaroid, working on their own, barely cognizant of one another, occasionally
popped into her lab and asked to sit in the darkroom, just to hide out from questions and think. (She’d make him mushroom soup on a lab burner.) He wasn’t kidding, some years later, when he said, “My whole life has been spent trying to teach people that intense concentration for hour after hour can bring out in people resources they didn’t know they had.” Science, of course, does not sell itself, and in these years, the rest of Polaroid more than held up its end. The people marketing and
something that went entirely over their parents’ heads. “The most spontaneous camera in the world,” read the instruction manual. You bet. Robinson wrote a jingle, “Meet the Swinger,” set to a nifty surf-rock tune by the composer Mitch Leigh (who in between ads was also cowriting Man of La Mancha). DDB shot a commercial in black-and-white (like the pictures the Swinger made) of frolicking teenagers on a beach, one of whom turned out to be the not-yet-famous Ali MacGraw. Robinson had spotted her in
inks: cyan, magenta, yellow, and black. The first three colors are each a mixture of two of nature’s primary colors, and each absorbs the third. Cyan, for example, is made of yellow and blue, and absorbs the other primary, which is red. If you put a denser layer of cyan ink into a printed picture, that picture appears less red; take the cyan out, print with just magenta and yellow, and you get fire engines, cherries, ruby lips. This arrangement is what’s called subtractive color: the cyan ink is
Worldwide, 160–61, 164–65, 173 Physical Optics, 15 Playboy, 30 Plummer, William, 30 Pocock, J. Michael, 159 polarization of light, 15–18 Polaroid cameras: Automatic 100, 59 Captiva, 152–53 “Clamshell” (unproduced), 138 Grey Label line, 173 i-Zone, 155, 157 JoyCam, 155 Model 80 (“Highlander”), 55 Model 95, 42–44, 124 Model 110, 56 Olympus digital hybrid, 155, 156 One, 155 OneStep, 140–42, 146, 172 Pronto!, 140–41 Spectra, 147–48 SpiceCam, 155 Swinger, 74–77 Talking Camera, 155 Taz, 155 Zip, 77