In 1972, Dr. Ediwn Land introduced the first one-step instant camera, the Polaroid SX-70. According to Charles and Ray Eames' short promotional documentary about the camera, embedded below, the SX-70 was designed from the beginning to topple "barriers between the photographer and his subject." It was, the Eames said, "a system of novelties.”
In the new issue of Smithsonian, Owen Edwards tells the history of the SX-70:
"How the Polaroid Stormed the Photographic World"
The genesis of the little wonder machine, the story goes, was that Land’s young daughter asked why she couldn’t see the vacation photos her father was taking “right now.” Polaroid was already a successful optical company; in 1947 Land and his engineers began producing cameras using peel-and-develop film, first black-and-white, then color. Sam Liggero, a chemist who spent several decades as a product developer at Polaroid, told me recently that Land had long envisioned an SX-70-type camera, involving a self-contained, one-step process with no fuss and no mess. Liggero describes Land as someone who “could look into the future and eloquently describe the intersection of science, technology and aesthetics.”