Mar

26

PolaroidPolaroid's announcement last month that they will stop making film is a timely reminder that the world moves on and that those who want to survive must move with it. All that's left now is the usual bit of nostalgic kicking and screaming.

This reminds me of one of the habits of International Master Bob Wade, OBE, who is still playing tournament chess in his late 80s. He makes a point of not keeping trophies, saying it would make him live in the past.

Sam Marx reminisces:

I formerly worked at Polaroid in '56-58 as an engineer in the polarizing film department. (Had no relation with the camera or instant film divisions). We were making the lenses for sunglasses and polarizing material for the government.

Polaroid was then located in two buildings exclusively in Cambridge across the street from MIT. Actually you had to walk across the MIT grounds to get to Polaroid's administrative building on Main St. This was before the move to Route 128.

It was a very progressive company guided by the inventor businessman Edwin Land. He developed the method to produce polarizing film in wide strips while still in college, Harvard, and then dropped out with his professor (George Wheelwright) to start the company. In the mid '40s he invented instant film and the Polaroid Land Camera.

Kodak damaged Polaroid's business by coming out with their instant camera which the court decided a number of years later was based on Polaroid's patents and had to pay Polaroid, but the damage was done.

Recent digital photography really put a virtual commercial end to the Polaroid instant film process and by then the Polaroid's driving force, founder Land was dead.

I remember in Dec. 1956 at the Polaroid Christmas Assembly when Edwin Land made the following announcement," All the major problems to develop color film have been overcome and it is now only a matter of time before we have it commercially". After checking with a friend from NY who was high up in the chemical research division, I went out and bought 200 sh. at 40 OTC. It dropped to 30, I sold 100 sh. in panic in what I now recognize as a selling climax, but kept the other 100 sh. I believe in '59 it was trading for 110. I sold the 100 shares a few years later.

By the way, Polaroid color film did not come out commercially until 1963, six years after Land's Christmas announcement.

As a small note, Edwin Land drove a black 1956 Ford Convertible with a continental tire kit on the back which I thought was pretty racy for the head of a large corporation in the '50s.


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