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Edwin H. Land

Edwin Herbert Land (May 7, 1909 - March 1, 1991) was an American scientist and inventor. Among other things, he invented inexpensive filters for polarizing light, instant polaroid photography, and his retinex theory of color vision.

Born in in Bridgeport, Connecticut, he studied chemistry at Harvard. While still a freshman, he invented the first inexpensive filters capable of polarizing light. Edwin Land did not finish his studies, but instead set up the Land-Wheelwright Laboratories in 1932 together with his Harvard physics instructor. He then went on to establish the Polaroid Corporation in Boston in 1937 to further develop and produce the sheet polarizers under the Polaroid trademark. The initial major application was for sunglasses and science, but it has found many applications, for instance as an important component of LCDs.

On February 21, 1947, Edwin Land demonstrated an instant image camera and associated film. Called the Land Camera, it was in commercial sale less than two years later.

In the 1950s, Edwin Land's team helped design the optics of the revolutionary Lockheed U-2 spy plane.

In 1957 Harvard University awarded him an honorary doctorate. Later a street in Cambridge, Massachusetts, closer to MIT's campus than to Harvard's, was named after him.

In the early 1970s, he attempted to explain the previously known phenomenon of color constancy with his Retinex theory of color vision. His popular demonstrations of color constancy raised much interest in the concept. Land however failed to cite earlier work on the concept and was later criticized for that.

In his retirement years, he founded the Rowland Institute for Science.

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