On this date in 1947, Edwin Land showed the world his invention.
It was at the dinner session of a meeting of the Optical Society of America at the Hotel Pennsylvania in New York. The event itself almost didn’t happen because of a huge snowstorm that nearly socked in the entire Northeast. That night at 7 p.m., though, a roomful of optics experts, ringed by a few wet and grumpy newspapermen, saw Land shoot an 8-by-10-inch photo of himself, run negative and paper through a pair of motorized rollers, and reveal a sepia print 50 seconds later. His colleague Peter Wensberg later noted that Land was terrified that that the experimental system (successfully tested dozens of times in private) would fail in public, and in fact the photos of him early in the demonstration show a certain tightness in his face. It all worked, though, and a few minutes later, he was laughing and joking with the reporters as he gleefully ran out print after print.
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