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In 1947, Polaroid introduced its first consumer camera. The Land Camera Model 95 was the first camera to use instant film to quickly produce photographs without developing them in a laboratory. The popular Model 95 and subsequent Land Cameras required complex procedures to take and produce good photographs. Photographic paper had to be manually removed from cameras, peeled open after 60 seconds, needed several minutes to dry, and often left developing chemicals on hands. The instructions for the Model 20 Swinger, introduced in 1965, warned that, if not followed, "you’re headed for plenty of picture taking trouble".
Pictures from the SX-70, by contrast, ejected automatically and developed quickly without chemical residue. Polaroid founder Edwin H. Land announced the SX-70 at a company annual meeting in April 1972. On stage, he took out a folded SX-70 from his suit coat pocket and in ten seconds took five pictures, both actions impossible with previous Land Cameras. The company first sold the SX-70 in Miami, Florida in late 1972, and began selling it nationally in fall 1973. Although the high cost of $180 for the camera and $6.90 for each film pack of ten pictures ($1,053 and $40, respectively, adjusted for inflation) limited demand, Polaroid sold 700,000 by mid-1974. In 1973–4, the Skylab 3 and 4 astronauts used an SX-70 to photograph a video display screen to be able to compare the Sun's features from one orbit to the next.
The SX-70 included many sophisticated design elements. A collapsible SLR required a complex light path for the viewfinder, with three mirrors (including one Fresnel reflector) of unusual, aspheric shapes set at odd angles to create an erect image on the film and an erect aerial image for the viewfinder. Many mechanical parts were precision plastic moldings. The body was made of glass-filled polysulfone, a rigid plastic which was plated with a thin layer of copper-nickel-chromium alloy to give a metallic appearance. Models 2 & 3 used ABS in either Ebony or Ivory color. The film pack contained a flat, 6-volt "PolaPulse" battery to power the camera electronics, drive motor and flash. The original flash system, a disposable "Flash Bar" of 10 bulbs (five on each side, with the user rotating the bar half way through) from General Electric, used logic circuits to detect and fire the next unused flash.
First revealed by the man himself at the annual company meeting in 1972, Polaroid founder Edwin Land famously pulled the SX70 from inside his blazer, unfolded his masterpiece before those in attendance, and proceeded to shoot five instant photos in just ten seconds. Not lost on the gathered crowd, this was the only Polaroid to that date capable of fitting in a suit jacket pocket, and no other camera in the world could produce instant prints as quickly.