At 80, Polaroid’s new gear embraces the past while eyeing the future

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The Polaroid booth at CES 2017 in Las Vegas shows the company's embrace of the past as it moves forward.
The Polaroid booth at CES 2017 in Las Vegas shows the company's embrace of the past as it moves forward.
Photo: Polaroid

CES2017 The iPhone and Instagram get credit for being the first shoot-and-share social network, but even Steve Jobs would say that’s wrong. The Polaroid camera introduced a social component to taking pictures in the late 1940s, the first instant photography with three steps — shoot, shake and share.

Polaroid brought disruptive innovation to the market and also became a casualty of it when it failed to change course in time to be part of the digital photography revolution.

But a new version of Polaroid is thriving and even stirring up some buzz this week at CES in Las Vegas with new products covering iPhone photography, consumer 3D printing, camera drones and fun cameras that produce an on-the-spot print.

How Polaroid Inspired Steve Jobs

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Steve Jobs was irreplaceable, but he does have his analogs. Driven, charismatic men who created their own companies based upon their ability to imagine a complete product that had never existed — “a perfect new product, whole, already manufactured sitting before him” — and spend tireless years to bring it to the world.

One of those analogues was Edwin Land, founder of Polaroid. And the number of parallels between his life and Steve Jobs’s life were incredible.