Polaroid Corporation was founded in 1937 by Edwin H. Land. It is most famous for its instant film cameras, which reached the market in 1948, and continued to be the company's flagship product line until the February 2008 decision to cease all production in favor of digital photography products. The company's original dominant market was in polarized sunglasses, an outgrowth of Land's self-guided research in polarization after leaving Harvard University after his freshman year (he later returned to Harvard to continue his research).
Polaroid developed an instant movie system, Polavision, based on the Dufaycolor process. The product arrived on the market when videotape based systems were rapidly gaining popularity. As a result, Polavision was unsuccessful and most of the manufactured product was sold off as a job lot at immense cost to the company.
On October 11, 2001, Polaroid Corporation filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. Almost all the company's assets (including the "Polaroid" name itself) were sold to a subsidiary of Bank One. They went on to form a new company, which also operates under the name "Polaroid Corporation". It stopped making Polaroid cameras in 2007 and will stop selling Polaroid film after 2009 , to the consternation of some users.
The renamed "old" Polaroid now exists solely as an administrative shell. Its bankruptcy was widely believed to be the result of the failure of its senior management to anticipate the effect of digital cameras on its film business.
The original Polaroid Corporation filed for federal bankruptcy protection on October 11, 2001. The outcome was that within ten months, most of the business (including the "Polaroid" name itself and non-bankrupt foreign subsidiaries) had been sold to Bank One's One Equity Partners (OEP). OEP Imaging Corporation then changed its name to Polaroid Holding Company (PHC). However, this new company operates using the name of its bankrupt predecessor, Polaroid Corporation.
As part of the settlement, the original Polaroid Corporation changed its name to Primary PDC, Inc. Having sold its assets, it was now effectively nothing more than an administrative shell. Primary PDC received approximately 35 percent of the "new" Polaroid, which was to be distributed to its unsecured creditors (including bondholders.) As of late 2006, Primary PDC remains in existence under Chapter 11 protection, but conducts no commercial business and has no employees.
Significant criticism surrounded this "takeover" because the process left executives of the company with large bonuses, while stockholders, as well as current and retired employees, were left with nothing.
Since the bankruptcy, the Polaroid brand has been licensed for use on other products with the assistance of Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom. In September 2002, World Wide Licenses, a subsidiary of The Character Group plc, was granted the exclusive rights for three years to manufacture and sell digital cameras under the Polaroid brand for distribution internationally. Polaroid branded LCDs and plasma televisions and portable DVD players have also appeared on the market.
On April 27, 2005, Petters Group Worldwide announced its acquisition of PHC. Petters has in the past bought up failed companies with well-known names for the value of those names. The same year, Flextronics purchased Polaroid's manufacturing operations and the decision was made to send most of the manufacturing to China.
More recently, the Polaroid name has been associated with the NOPI drift series. Polaroid is currently the principal sponsor of the 350Z driven by Nick Bollea , who placed third in Pittsburgh and tenth in Denver at NOPI events in the 2007 season. Polaroid has chosen not to renew their sponsorship of Bollea for the 2008 season. No official reason has been given, but this decision was made in the wake of a serious accident and allegations of illegal street racing by Bollea.