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Let us now praise Edwin Land

One of the reasons I enjoyed writing about Polaroid Swing—a new iPhone app that lets you capture tiny little moments of life at 60 frames per second—is that it gave me another chance to reflect on the brilliance of Edwin Land,  Polaroid’s amazing founder and resident genius. (I wrote about him at length a few years ago in a piece on Polaroid’s SX-70 camera.)

You think Steve Jobs invented the idea of introducing groundbreaking products by having the company’s CEO preside over carefully orchestrated onstage demos that made news? Nope—Land did it all the time, with launches that were clear predecessors of Apple‘s much later “Stevenotes.” And unlike Jobs, Land was personally responsible for many of the breakthroughs, from the mechanical to the chemical, which made his gadgets possible. 

Here he is at Polaroid’s 1977 annual meeting, filming a dancer with the company’s inventive but ill-fated Polavision movie camera:

[Photo: Spencer Grant, Contributor, Getty Images]HM