Snapshots of Polaroid

Take a look back at the photography company's iconic role in pop culture, and a look ahead at what its alumni are now doing on tech's cutting edge.

In its heyday some years back, Polaroid was one of the crown jewels of the Boston area business scene, a luminescent union of art and technology. But that was then. Today, post-bankruptcy proceedings and in the hands of new owners, it exists as little more than a brand name. Last month came the end-of-an-era announcement that it would no longer make its trademark instant film.

On Sunday, The Boston Globe ran a pair of articles in separate sections looking at the Polaroid mystique. Mark Feeney's piece, "Instant karma," pairs the Polaroid Swinger camera with the Ford Mustang as "embodiments of '60s affluence and liberation." Feeney reminisces about Polaroid's role in pop culture, from ads featuring Ali McGraw to its cameo in Madonna's hands in Desperately Seeking Susan and the oversize portraits by photographer Elsa Dorfman.

Business writer Scott Kirsner, meanwhile, catches up in "Polaroid's entrepreneurial legacy" with company alumni now plying their cutting-edge skills at tech endeavors ranging from printing spin-off Zink Imaging to display specialist E Ink and solar cell maker Konarka Technologies.

Plus, see: "Old and outrageous Polaroids from readers"

About the author

Jonathan Skillings is managing editor of CNET News, based in the Boston bureau. He's been with CNET since 2000, after a decade in tech journalism at the IDG News Service, PC Week, and an AS/400 magazine. He's also been a soldier and a schoolteacher, and will always be a die-hard fan of jazz, the brassier the better.


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