66 years ago, on February 21, 1947, Edwin Land (1909 – 1991) – co-founder of the Polaroid Corporation – demonstrated the first instant camera with self-developing film. The Polaroid Land Camera Model 95 used a patented chemical process to produce finished positive prints from the exposed negatives in under a minute.
Although Edwin Land is rightly credited with inventing the Polaroid Camera, it was his daughter who conceived of the idea. While on vacation at the Grand Canyon in 1943, she wondered why developing photos took so long and asked to see the vacation photos right away. Her idea preyed on Land’s mind and he started working on the concept that the whole photographic process from taking the image to seeing the finished product shouldn’t last longer than 60 seconds.
Polaroid manufactured sixty units of this first camera and fifty-seven were put up for sale at Boston’s Jordan Marsh department store before the 1948 Christmas holiday. Polaroid marketers wrongly guessed that the camera and film would remain in stock long enough to manufacture a second run based on customer demand. All fifty-seven cameras and all of the film were sold on the first day of demonstrations. Starting in 1948 the Polaroid Corporation made at least 1.5 million of the Model 95 folding viewfinder camera for his instant roll film, including the variants 95, 95A and 95B.