Edwin H. Land
National Medal of Technology and Innovation
For the invention, development and marketing of instant photography.
National Medal of Science
For many discoveries and inventions in the field of polarized light, rapid photography, including quick processing of the final photograph, for the development of a unique theory of color vision, and for contributions to national defense.
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BirthMay 7, 1909
Age Awarded79 (Technology)
Country of BirthUSA
Awarded byRonald Wilson Reagan (Technology)
Lyndon Baines Johnson (Science)
Areas of ImpactCommunication & Information
The Rowland Institute for Science
Other PrizesNational Inventors Hall of Fame
Edwin Land’s most famous invention came as an answer to a young child’s question in 1943. Why, his daughter wondered, must she wait so long to see the photographs he had snapped. Thus began the scientist’s quest for instant photography.
Land, founder of the Polaroid Corp., quickly put his company’s years of research, chemicals and development to work to solve the problem. Less than five years later he had invented instant photography and the cameras were an instant hit. Over the ensuing decades, Polaroid would refine its cameras, adding color photos in 1963.
Under Land, Polaroid was among the first technically innovative companies -- as much a research company as a manufacturing company, he said.
Born in Norwich, Conn., Land twice left his studies at Harvard University to research the ideas that brought Polaroid world-wide acclaim. He later received an honorary doctorate in science from the university.
Land held 533 patents at his death in 1991 and was honored with the National Medal of Science in 1967 and the National Medal of Technology in 1988.
He also founded the Rowland Institute for Science, a research organization in Cambridge, Mass., in 1980.