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Polaroid To Fade Away, Maybe

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#1 of 6 OFFLINE   Peter Kline

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Posted October 13 2001 - 01:41 AM

As a child of the 50s Polaroid's bankruptcy filing is sad news. Polaroid was a company that did the "impossible". It was founded by Edwin H. Land in the 30s. The first Land camera was introduced in 1949 and went on sale the next year. I became a "fan" of the company from the day my uncle bought me a Polaroid camera when I was 10 years old. Then the film was just black and white (and before that sepia) and you opened the back of the camera after one minute and peeled the print out. Next you had to coat it with a gooey stick that had that unmistable vinegary smell of "hypo". Eventually the company developed color film. The peak of their success was the SX 70 Camera and intergral color film unveiled in 1972. It was one of the great inventions of the 20th Century. The company has many great assets and patents. A new printing method for color and black and white images was shown several months ago and has great promise and somebody will surely pick it up for marketing.

For a fascinating history and information on the company go to my friend Marty Kuhn's site:


#2 of 6 OFFLINE   Deane Johnson

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Posted October 13 2001 - 01:48 AM

I should think that the advent of the one hour photo processing stands on every corner and the rapid growth of the digital camera spelled doom for Poloroid. There would be little defense against these newer developments.

I suspect we'll see them fade completely away. I too hate to see another American institution disappear from the landscape.


#3 of 6 OFFLINE   Peter Kline

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Posted October 13 2001 - 02:15 AM


You're right, they got into the digital age too late. A plausible scenario for the breaking up of the company would be the following:

The Polaroid film business, both amateur and professional will be picked up by Fuji. Fuji sells an instant system called INSTAX except in the U.S. The reason they never came into this market has to do with patents. The INSTAX system is basically the one Kodak introduced and then had to abandon because of patent infringements. With millions of Polaroid cameras out there, it would be a perfect fit.

The Drivers license system that is used by some 30 states and many foreign countries will be picked up by another firm. Offers, according to Polaroid, have already been made.

The sun glass business will be sold.

Polaroid's unique flat battery business will be sold as well.

Finally, the new Onyx and Opal imaging systems will be purchased, either by an outside company such as Hewlet Packard or Canon, or perhaps individuals at Polaroid will start a new company. This is the part of the company that has immense future potential. It produces color or black and white prints in seconds that are the equivalent to silver-based images. The dyes are built into the paper and heat is used to bring the image up. Those who have seen it say it is remarkable. A 5 X 7 image would cost pennies, rather than a dollar that the current film based Polaroid prints cost. It is also better and cheaper than current dye based printer images people can now make.


#4 of 6 OFFLINE   JohnRice


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Posted October 13 2001 - 06:17 PM

What most of you probably don't realize is that there are thousands of commercial photographers who consume large quantities of Polaroid film each year. I usually buy several hundred dollars worth each month. This stuff CAN NOT GO AWAY. Though, I expect if Polaroid doesn't make it through, then Fuji will expand their line to cover the slack. Polaroid actually already sells at least one pro film that is actually made by Fuji.

The Hybrid System

The Music Part: Emotiva XSP-1, Thiel CS 3.6, Emotiva XPA-2, Marantz SA8004, Emotiva ERC-3, SVS PB-12 Plus 2

The Surround Part: Sherbourn PT-7030, Thiel SCS3, Emotiva XPA-5, Polk & Emotiva Surrounds.

#5 of 6 OFFLINE   Glenn Overholt

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Posted October 14 2001 - 02:53 AM

Thank you John! It's been about 30 years since I've read about this, but a lot of professional photographers take a test shot on a Polaroid before they take the final ones on their cameras to judge the lighting and contrast.

I'm not professional photographer, though, but I'd hate to see them fold up. I just think that a good downsizing is in order. Maybe just one model and one type of film.


#6 of 6 OFFLINE   Peter Kline

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Posted October 14 2001 - 03:28 AM

As I stated above, being a kind of Polaroid fanatic, the company is very diverse. In their heyday they were involved in chemicals, opitcs, electronics... all things that had to be invented from scratch to ultimately make instant films and cameras. During their best years they made everything themselves. In recent years they have closed down their factories and chemical plants and outsourced their manufacturing. I believe that most of the companies assets... its patents, manufacturing arrangements and distribution will be divided amongst several companies.

The sad fact is that the company built up an enormous debt due to, to put in pluntly, mis-management. In 1985 a group called Shamrock Investments made a hostile takeover bid. To fend this off , Polaroid went into debt by offering its worldwide employees better beneifts which seriously drained their resources. (Shamrock was headed by one Roy Disney... yes, that one). When their patent lawsuit with Kodak was resolved, Polaroid received nearly 1 billion dollars in compensation. Kodak had to get out of the instant business. Instead of using a large portion of the money to pay down their debt the management used it instead to fund new and ultimately failed businesses and products.

The professional business will continue one way or another. Chapter 11 does not necessarily mean the demise of the company but usually it does occur. The patents they own are very valuable, particularly in the optical and chemical areas.

As I stated in my posts above, the future of Polaroid is their new patents and technology for digital based imaging using a proprietary product called Opal and Onyx. If they can find a partner to help manufacture the needed hardward and print material they will be in the forefront of digital print imaging I believe. But with their current problems it's possible that this technology will be delayed or at worse never see the light of day.

You can go to Polaroids sight to view a "white paper" on this new techology. Just click on the line in the first paragraph for the PDF file and read what it is all about.


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