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Discussion in 'Large Format Cameras and Accessories' started by wildbill, Sep 22, 2005.
Did you know that Edwin Land, instant film inventor, also invented the polariser?
Yes - and he was a buddy of Ansel's...
Land invented the sheet polariser by embedding and orienting small crystals of Herapathite in a matrix. Herapathite itself was discovered some thirty years before that (by a Dr. Herapath, who for reasons best known to himself was dropping iodine into dog's urine). The modern idea of polarisers was about a hundred years old at the time of Land's invention, but there are good clues that the vikings used the polarisation of the sky for navigation.
Land was a bright cookie. But he stood on the shoulders of giants.
That's why the cameras are called "Polaroid" -- named after the sheet polarizing material that made Land his first fortune.
As I recall, he also patented a method of reproducing a full color image from only two B&W films, only one of which was recorded through a filter, and wrote one of the major articles on photography or color for the World Book Encyclopedia back in the 1950s or 1960s.
Oh, and his work in instant photography was based on German patents (from Agfa, IIRC) that were invalidated after the Second World War (as war reparations -- all existing German patents were invalidated, as I recall). He made it practical, but the original work on silver transfer imageforming (the basis of B&W Polaroid, even now) dates back to the late 1930s.
Edward Land was a true genius. He is second only to Thomas Edison in the number of patents granted to a single individual. The polarizing sheet material was invented when he was 19, two years after dropping out of Harvard to work on it.
Just a few accomplishments I can recall besides polarizer sheet and the photography company; Science Advisor to several Presidents, Advisor to the early Project Mercury space program. In WWII, he invented the aerial photo system that evolved into the U2 and SR-71 surveillance systems; 3-D movies were a spin-off of it. Was the foremost expert on airborne and space optical reconnaissance gathering. First commercial use of integrated circuits. Never mind Ray-Ban polarized sun glasses.
See polaroid.com, about, brand history for a timeline history of the company and Edward Land.
Not bad for a kid who dropped out of college when he was seventeen.
He also did groundbreaking research into visual perception. A bright guy.