Sunday, November 5, 2017


Mark Olshaker, The Instant Image.  Edwin Land and the Polaroid Experience.  (Stein & Day, 1978)
The device that is credited with putting the nail in Polaroid's coffin.  Introduced in 1977, it came head to head with the new videotape technology. Polaroid had concluded that the spread of home movies was limited principally by the difficulties in setting up projector and screen, rearranging furniture and reducing light.  So, they came up with a system that allowed users to take 3 minutes of film per cartridge.  These were self-developing and could then be played on a TV-like viewer.  Polaroid thought most users wouldn't want to record anything longer than 3 minutes, and would then end up with a collection of cartridges that could be viewed individually. The camera and viewer were made by EUMIG, after Bell & Howell bailed from the project. The whole system retailed for about $700 U.S.  A major downsize was the fact that Polavision didn't record sound, and couldn't be taped over like videotape. The project didn't sell as expected. Edwin Land was eased into retirement and the company continued to struggle, seeking bankruptcy protection in 2001.  Land, who died in 1991, must have agonized over the decline of the company he founded.  Within a year of the bankruptcy, the company was sold to Bank One's One Equity Partner's.  As the company's Wikipedia entry states:

"Significant criticism surrounded this "takeover" because the process left executives of the company with large bonuses, while stockholders, as well as current and retired employees, were left with nothing. The company announced a plan that gave the top 45 executives bonuses just for staying at their jobs. Meanwhile, other employees were restricted from selling their stock before leaving their jobs."
Sound familiar?

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