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Polaroid is mostly known for its instant cameras and its name is synonymous with cameras of this type. An instant camera snaps a photo and automatically develops the finished product directly after taking the picture. In order to accomplish this, the camera is stocked with a stack of instant film with a light sensitive side where the actual photo becomes visible after development. The chemicals necessary to develop the photo are built into the film and are activated when the camera spits out the photo.

The American company Polaroid Inc. was founded in 1937 and manufactured instant cameras, instant film, sunglasses, and consumer electronics. In 1947, Polaroid created the first camera that produced a finished positive image shortly after photographing. In 1972, the company began producing film that no longer had to be separated from the negative since all of the film components were combined. People only had to wait for a couple of minutes to see how the photo would turn out. In 1982 the company introduced film with the dimensions 3.125 x 3.125 in. that was much more light sensitive than earlier variants. Its predecessor, SX-70 film, had a limited exposure latitude and had to be taken in just the right lighting conditions, which was very difficult to accomplish with cheap cameras.

In early 2008, Polaroid halted its production of instant cameras and in the summer of the same year the last Polaroid instant film was produced in the Netherlands. In December the company applied for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in the US and a new business plan was created shortly afterwards. A company named “Impossible” then took over Polaroid’s film production in Enschede in the Netherlands and continued to produce film for Polaroid’s instant cameras. Since then, the composition of the film materials has been changed somewhat since previous distributors had changed their range of products and not all of the original materials needed to create the film were available. Some photographers still like to use classic Polaroid cameras and film for their miscolour and other special characteristics.

Since 2010, Polaroid Inc. has concentrated on production of products for digital photography, camcorders, and photo accessories, but has also begun to again produce instant cameras and instant film. The company also now manufactures pocket-sized instant photo printers that can connect to smartphones and tablets and make it possible to instantly print out photos. Polaroid sees itself today as a “social sharing brand.” Polaroid also produces the Socialmatic: an instant digital camera with its own integrated operating system that can take photos, print them out, and even share them online. Also in its array of products are the Polaroid Cube Lifestyle Action Camera and Action Sport Cameras.