Happy birthday to Edwin Land, inventor of the Polaroid camera


posted Tuesday, May 7, 2013 at 7:23 PM EDT


Edwin H. Land would have turned 104 today and Life magazine has marked the occasion with a look back at his legacy including revisiting a memorable 1972 cover story on the inventor of the Polaroid instant camera.

An essay and slideshow on the Life website features an image of that cover story, titled "The Genius and His Magic Camera," along with pictures that Life photographer Co Rentmeester shot with a Polaroid SX-70. Rentmeester's SX-70 photos including some rather striking shots of dancers and models, showing that this "instant" camera was more than just a novelty or passing fad.

"But beyond its overnight stardom, the camera also, to varying degrees, presaged the ways in which the world now consumes, manipulates and shares media. Instagram, the iPhone, the Flip, even YouTube and streaming video — most of the sudden and playful means by which we entertain and inform ourselves every day can, with a little digging, find a kernel of their genius in the beautiful, compact universe of the SX-70," according to the Life essay.

Read more and see more photos of Rentmeester's photos here. Also worth checking out on Land's birthday is this short video history of Polaroid in which Land seems to predict the smart phone.