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 Polaroid Model 95 - 1948                    New! WidePhotoViewer for iPhone/iPod/iPad       

First instant-picture camera
$89.75 in 1948 ($812 in 2010 dollars)

Click image to zoom

This is the first Polaroid, Model 95, and the first of those, as it has the spring-post viewfinder, later replaced with a wire frame.

I recently bought this camera for about $26 on eBay, and therefore never used it, nor could I, as Polaroid stopped making film for it around 1992. From trying it out, I would say that it was a heavy (4.5 lb.), awkward camera to use, but I guess that didn't matter because you got the pictures right away.

Actually, I do have a roll of unopened film for my 95, sent along by the seller. Unfortunately, it seems to have expired:

Polaroid came out with some wonderful cameras over the years, but compared to conventional cameras, all of them were fairly large and more expensive to operate. Polaroid was seriously hurt by the rise in one-hour labs in drugstores, supermarkets, shopping malls, and even drive-throughs, and then finally done in for good by digital.

One custom started by Polaroid is still with us, however: When you take a digital picture, people crowd around to see the picture right away, just as they surely did in 1948. (I once took a digital picture of my daughter with Goofy at Disneyland, and even Goofy wanted to see how it came out.)

Everything you'd want to know about Polaroid cameras is on the Land List site.

Here's an early ad from the 25-July-1949 issue of LIFE:



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