Skip to main content

How Polaroid's founder predicted the iPhone

In the 50s, 60s, and 70s, Polaroid was the coolest tech company on earth. Led by visionary founder Edwin Land, it grew from a 1937 garage startup into a billion-dollar phenomenon - no wonder Steve Jobs saw him as a personal hero and an inspiration for Apple.

And as this trailer for a new book, Instant: The Story of Polaroid, reveals, Land did more than that. He more or less predicted how photography would evolve into a handheld device like the iPhone - more than four decades ago!

Polaroid's founder Edwin Land forsaw a device the size of a wallet that would be used to take constant photos so people could build up a lifetime of memories

Polaroid's founder Edwin Land forsaw a device the size of a wallet that would be used to take constant photos so people could build up a lifetime of memories

As the book's author, New York magazine's senior editor Chris Bonanos, explains, a short film Land made back in 1970 "anticipates to an astonishing extent the way we all shoot photos and upload them to Facebook today".

In extracts included in this trailer, Land describes in the future in which he would "take a wallet out of my pocket, open the wallet, press a button and have the picture".

This device would be "something like the telephone, something that you use all day long, whenever an occassion arises in which you cannot trust your memory… [you would use it] as often as your pencil or your eyeglasses" to build up a lifetime of photographic memories. Sound familiar?

A new book traces the amazing story of Polaroid, one of the world's most innovative tech companies and a big influence on Steve Jobs

A new book traces the amazing story of Polaroid, one of the world's most innovative tech companies and a big influence on Steve Jobs

There's plenty more to Polaroid's amazing story besides, from the introduction of its first instant camera in 1948, to its massive rise in popularity and adoption by artists like Andy Warhol, to the company’s dramatic collapse into bankruptcy in the 21st century.

Bonanos rattles through the highlights in the trailer video, and the book is available to buy from Princeton Architectural Press (opens in new tab) right now.

Liked this? Then read these!

Do you still use your Polaroid camera for creative projects? Let us know about it in the comments!

Thank you for reading 5 articles this month* Join now for unlimited access

Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription

Join now for unlimited access

Try first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

The Creative Bloq team is made up of a group of design fans, and has changed and evolved since Creative Bloq began back in 2012. The current website team consists of six full-time members of staff: Editor Kerrie Hughes, Deputy Editor Rosie Hilder, Deals Editor Beren Neale, Senior News Editor Daniel Piper, Digital Arts and Design Editor Ian Dean, and Staff Writer Amelia Bamsey, as well as a roster of freelancers from around the world. The 3D World and ImagineFX magazine teams also pitch in, ensuring that content from 3D World and ImagineFX is represented on Creative Bloq. 

Topics