Land, Edwin H.

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LAND, EDWIN H. (1909–1991), U.S. inventor of the Polaroid cameras and films that revolutionized the whole conception of negative-positive photography. Born in Bridgeport, Conn., Land's work with light began when he was a freshman at Harvard College and experimented with polarized light. Later Land returned to Harvard and in a laboratory furnished for him, he continued to perfect Polaroid sheets, which eventuated in Polaroid "L" Sheet. This synthetic had a new molecular structure. When laminated in glass it made polarization practical in three-dimensional colored movies, automobile headlights, sunglasses, and camera filters. In 1940 Land and his staff of scientists produced the first black and white stereoscopic vectographs. The group's inventions during World War ii solved many military problems, producing infrared polarizers; heat stable filters that passed only the infrared; dark adaption goggles; and thermal homingheads containing miniaturized computers to be attached to the noses of bombs. After the war Land perfected his Polaroid one-step camera, and by 1948 it was made available to the public. The Polaroid camera was soon refined enough to yield a completely neutral, grainless, silver deposit ranging from clear whites through degrees of subtle grays to clear solid blacks. Land followed his black-and-white process in one-step color film.


Bello, in: Fortune, 59 (April 1959), 124–7; Current Biography Yearbook 1953 (1953), 339–41.

[Peter Pollack]