POLAROID SWINGER

DescriptionPolaroid Swinger (Model 20)
ManufacturersThe Polaroid Corporation
Time Period1965-1970
ComponentsCamera, original camera box, and film
DetailsAperture: f/17 – f/100
Flash
Dimensions
LocationUCL Cabinet of Obsolete Media
Inventory nº

Released in 1965 “the Swinger” was the first of Polaroid’s camera to cater specifically to the youth market. Designed by the American design pioneer Henry Dreyfuss, the Swinger featured a white plastic body with black, red, and silver accents, and included a viewfinder that lit up with the word “yes” when the light was correct for the exposure. Though it only took 2×3 black and white images, at just under $20, the price of the camera made it easily accessible to the mass market, with an estimated 7 million units sold over the years. The Swinger used Polaroid Type 20 model film (panchromatic black and white), though different from preceding models it developed outside the camera. With a higher ASA of 3000, the Swinger promised easily made snapshots that young people could take while on their outings. This notion was reinforced by a TV commercial advertising the camera which depicted a young couple having fun on a day out at the beach while the catchy jingle, “meet the Swinger”, played in the background.

Its name, “the Swinger,” came after a Polaroid employee saw the movement the camera made while being attached to Land’s wrist, and it aimed to connote youthfulness and liveliness, though it has been said that its name also hinted the amateur erotic photographic practices that gathered around Polaroid.

Albeit the Swinger proved to be an extremely successful camera, after a few years, and as it usually happens with young people, the sales in film started to decline, still, Christopher Bonanos noted, “the baby-boomers’ kids [were] hooked” (and potentially ready to jump into other Polaroid products).

Though the Swinger is easily available for purchase in second-hand markets, currently there is no film available.

A.L.

Bibliography

Bonanos, Christopher. Instant. The Story of Polaroid. New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 2012.