Inventors are inspirational. Edwin H. Land was an inventor, scientist, and businessman. He invented inexpensive filters for polarizing light. This allowed for a practical system of instant photography. He had a retinex theory of color vision. This led to the Polaroid instant camera and Land co-founding the Polaroid Corporation.
Edwin Land was born on May 7, 1909 in Bridgeport, Connecticut. He graduated high school from Norwich Free Academy in 1927. He studied chemistry at Harvard University for a year, but left for New York City after his freshman year. There he would sneak into the lab at Columbia University and use the New York City Public Library to experiment and research. He returned to Harvard after developing a polarizing film. He married in 2929, but never graduated. He joined a partnership with his Harvard Physics instructor and they founded the Land-Wheelwright Laboratories. After some work and successes with polarizing filters for sunglasses and photographic filters the company and their new Wall Street investors, renamed the company. Their company became the Polaroid Corporation in 1937. Land worked on military tasks during World War II.
The first instant camera was called the Land Camera and was demonstrated in 1947. The first cameras manufactured sold out in Boston before the 1948 Christmas holiday. Land became known his marathon research and work sessions. He contributed to the development of photographic reconnaissance and intelligence gathering efforts during the beginning of the Cold War. He was an advisor on photographic reconnaissance matters to President Dwight D. Eisenhower. He received an honorary doctorate from Harvard University in 1957. Land hired women and led Polaroid to be a leader in the affirmative action movement. He had artistic vision and invited photographers to use giant studio cameras he built. Prints he obtained included photographs by Ansel Adams and Andy Warhol. After retiring from Polaroid in 1980 he founded the Rowland Institute for Science.
Edwin Land died on March 1, 1991 in Cambridge, Massachusetts. During his life, Land was a member of multiple groups including the President’s Science Advisory Committee from 1960 until 1973. He has also received many honors, including the 1963 Presidential Medal of Freedom. He held 535 patents. Be inspired! Have a bright day!