My Kennedy Polaroids: Instant History |



JFK Polaroids

In 2013, there’s so much instant photography all around us that nobody bothers to call it “instant photography.” And it’s not just the photography that’s instant: At every public event of note, the audience includes people with smartphones who snap pictures and share them with the world, no wait required. It’s increasingly easy to forget that life was ever any different.

Back in 1960, though, instant photography was still remarkable, and still synonymous with Edwin Land‘s twelve-year-old invention, the Polaroid Land Camera. It was a pricey hobby — even the cheapest Polaroid cameras cost around $70, or more than $500 in current dollars — and considerably more cumbersome, complicated and glitch-prone than it would become in the 1970s, when Polaroid’s even more remarkable SX-70 camera came along. Instant-photography enthusiasts were far outnumbered by ordinary folk who used conventional film and couldn’t see what their snapshots looked like until they came back from the photofinisher days or weeks later.

On April 23, 1960, a Land Camera owner attended the 1960 Pear Blossom Festival parade in Medford, Oregon. The Grand Marshal that year was Senator John F. Kennedy of Massachusetts, who was campaigning for the Democratic presidential nomination; our Polaroid photographer captured the senator’s visit in at least two instant pictures.

Five decades later, those two photos wound up in a case at an antique mall in Portland, on the other side of the state. In late December, as I antiqued during my holiday break, they caught my eye — and when I flipped them over and saw POLAROID stamped on their backsides, I had to have them. There they are at the top of this post.

The John F. Kennedy in these instant snapshots is the same confident, smiling, well-coiffed figure familiar from a thousand other pictures I’ve seen. (All in a historical context — I was born slightly over four months after his death.) But these aren’t prints or scans or reproductions of any sort. The photos themselves emerged from a camera which had been held a few feet from their subject, looking almost exactly as they do today; they document Kennedy’s visit to Medford, but they were also part of it.

Here’s a better look at one of the pictures, in which the senator is apparently posing for our anonymous photographer. I don’t know for sure where it was taken, but the most logical guess is that it’s the lobby of the Medford Hotel, which was the location of a post-parade luncheon. The pictures were taken with Polaroid’s amazingly speedy Type 47 film, introduced in 1959 and rated at 3000 ASA, which would have let our shutterbug take this interior shot without the use of a flash.

John F. Kennedy in Medford

Pierre Salinger on TIME covr

Pierre Salinger on the cover of TIME’s October 16, 1964 issue.

The partially-visible man at the far left, in necktie and belted trenchcoat, seems to be Pierre Salinger, JFK’s press secretary during both the 1960 campaign and his presidency, and later a European correspondent for ABC News. (I should have been able to figure that out on my own, but presidential historian David Pietrusza, author of 1960: LBJ vs. JFK vs. Nixon, identified him for me.) I’m not sure who the lady standing to Senator Kennedy’s left is.

And the bowtied gent in between Salinger and the lady  –  why, that’s Wally Watkins, the man who drove Kennedy in the Pear Blossom parade. Born in 1926, Watkins was a local businessman, involved at the time in real estate and timber. Almost fifty-three years later, he’s still a resident of the Medford area today. (Thanks to Paul Fattig of Southern Oregon’s Mail Tribune, who’s profiled Watkins in the past, for putting me in touch with him.)

Here’s Wally Watkins behind the wheel, driving JFK through downtown Medford.

JFK in Medford Pear Blossom Parade

Why did Watkins drive Kennedy’s car? Because it was his car  – Watkins happened to own a beautiful cream-colored 1959 Lincoln Continental Mark III. “I had one of those convertibles where you could fold the top down in back so a guy could sit up on top back there,” he explained to me. A friend of his at the Pear Blossom parade thought it would be the ideal vehicle for the Grand Marshal and asked Watkins to play chauffeur.  ”I said ‘heck, yes, I’m a Democrat anyway,’” Watkins remembers.

Polaroid Pathfinder 110A camera


A Polaroid 110A Pathfinder camera, manufactured from 1957-1960 and one of the models which may have been used by our Kennedy photographer.

April 23 also happened to be opening day for the fishing season; before the parade opportunity came up, Watkins had been planning to go fishing with his son at Oregon’s Klamath Lake. He admitted as much to JFK, who, he says, told him, “I’ll make it up to you, don’t worry.”

And indeed, Kennedy later sent Watkins a letter inviting him to his inauguration. “But I didn’t go,” Watkins laments. “I figured that he’d be elected twice, and I’d go to the next one.” It was not to be, but Watkins did get to meet Robert F. Kennedy, who campaigned in Medford eight years after his brother had — and only six weeks before his own assassination.

Back on April 23, 1960, Watkins didn’t know that the man in the back of his convertible would become one of the twentieth century’s most iconic figures, but it was still a big deal for a leading presidential candidate to visit Medford, a city with a population of 24,000. JFK made the visit as part of a two-day campaign trip to Oregon, which also included stops in Portland and Eugene at high schools, a Methodist church and a company called Ozark Industries. His itinerary indicates that he arrived in Medford at 9:30 in the morning and was gone by 3:30pm.

I’m glad that our Polaroid photographer recorded part of JFK’s time in Medford, but there are subtle signs that he or she may have been less than an expert Polaroid user. The Land Camera prints of the time were  alarmingly fragile, prone to both damage and fading. The company addressed these basic flaws by bundling each roll of film with a tiny squeegee which the photographer was supposed to use — immediately — to swab down photos with a pungent protective chemical coating. Leer más “My Kennedy Polaroids: Instant History |”

We Are Watching the Reinvention of Microsoft

BIG PICTURE  | http://techland.time.comReuters


Its not every day that we get to watch a company that helped make personal computing a reality reinvent itself. Yet that is exactly what we are watching as Microsoft inches closer to one of its biggest operating system launches to date. Not only is this launch critical to Microsoft’s future, but so is the journey it will embark upon to reinvent itself.

Creating Software for the New Era

The computing devices that have helped make Microsoft what it is today are not the mainstream computing devices of the future. Of course, things like notebooks and desktops play a role in the computing ecosystem but in my opinion, devices like tablets, smartphones, and perhaps even some new devices represent what will consume the bulk of our personal computing time.

This means that Microsoft needs to reinvent itself for this new era of computing. There was a time when the computing devices driving the industry were primarily running Microsoft software. However, in today’s world that is no longer the case.

(MORE: Let’s Hope Microsoft’s Kindle Fire Competitor–Assuming It Exists–Isn’t a Kin)

The more I study the trends in the industry, the more I’m convinced that Microsoft’s future depends on it becoming a hardware-agnostic software company. Throughout most of Microsoft’s history, its major innovations and value have been strictly limited to companies who license Microsoft’s software platform, Windows. This worked in a Windows-dominated world, but with the role of smartphones, tablets, and even shifting tides in notebooks and desktops, it’s no longer a Windows-dominated world. I don’t believe we’ll see a Windows-dominated world again like we did as the computing industry was maturing. Leer más “We Are Watching the Reinvention of Microsoft”

5 Reasons to Give Google Drive a Shot | Techland |

See on Scoop.ithuman being in – perfección

Is Google Drive worth a look? Like most freebies from companies as ubiquitous as Google, I think so. After all, the only way to determine whether it’s right for your particular setup is to give it a spin.

Google Drive, the company’s answer to online storage tools like Dropbox,, SugarSync and Microsoft’s SkyDrive, arrived yesterday afternoon as forecast, though with little ceremony.

It wasn’t…then suddenly it was, offering 5GB of free online, synchronized storage, no strings attached, with competitive upgrade prices if you need more, from 25GB on up to 1TB.

Is it worth a look? Like most freebies from companies as ubiquitous as Google, I think so. After all, the only way to determine whether it’s right for your particular setup is to give it a spin.

You get more free storage than Dropbox
Google Drive offers 5GB free storage, no privacy tradeoffs like crawling your data or bothersome inline ads to worry about. Dropbox, arguably the most popular cloud storage alternative at the moment, only gives you 2GB free. Beyond that, the two offer similar synchronization basics, while Google naturally offers better integration with Google’s online products. That said, Dropbox’s simplicity of file sharing remains superior to Google Drive’s, offering better-integrated tools to quickly make files or folders accessible to other users (without requiring service memberships or logins), but if you and your friends, family or work collaborators already live in the Googlesphere, you owe it to yourself to give Google Drive a shake. Leer más “5 Reasons to Give Google Drive a Shot | Techland |”

Me at the Zoo: First Video Uploaded to YouTube Seven Years Ago Today

While YouTube’s popularity has seen explosive growth since April 23, 2005, we can safely say that no video clip uploaded since then has been able to eclipse this one’s quality of discourse.

YouTube was cobbled together back in early 2005 by former PayPal employees Chad Hurley, Steve Chen and Jawed Karim (the above video was uploaded to Karim’s account) and sold to Google for $1.65 billion in stock in late 2006. At last count, an hour of video is uploaded to YouTube every second and four billion videos are viewed every day.

YouTube, look how fast you’ve grown. Seems like only yesterday that “Me at the zoo” was uploaded – a 19-second clip wherein our protagonist pontificates about elephants.


“The cool thing about these guys is that they have really, really, really long trunks. And that’s… that’s cool.” Leer más “Me at the Zoo: First Video Uploaded to YouTube Seven Years Ago Today”

Making PCs Truly Personal: Visions of a Computer in Every Pocket | Techland |

Via Scoop.ithuman being in – perfección

If Bill Gates‘ original vision was that every desk in every home would have a computer, then the next major frontier will be bringing a computer to every person’s pocket.

Smartphone Are Computers

When I advance the idea of bringing a computer to every person’s pocket, I’m talking about smartphones. These are devices that my firm considers computers by all definitions. I know there’s a hot debate amongst many of my analyst colleagues as to whether or not devices like smartphones and tablets should be considered and tracked as computers. However, we believe they should for a range of reasons.

First of all, by definition, tablets and smartphones are computers. According to The Merriam-Webster dictionary, the definition of a computer is:

“A programmable, usually electronic device that can store, retrieve, and process data.” Leer más “Making PCs Truly Personal: Visions of a Computer in Every Pocket | Techland |”

Box Wants to Be the Cloud-Based File System for Mobile Business Apps | Techland |

Box, the uncommonly ambitious cloud storage company that focuses on business use, wants to fix this. It’s launching a service called OneCloud which aims to let productivity apps on iOS — and, eventually, other operating systems — talk to each other.

The company is working with app developers to build OneCloud support into their programs. Once implemented, it lets an app open documents stored on Box’s servers, then save the edited document back to the cloud. Among the apps that will support the service first are Quickoffice, Nuance’s PaperPort Notes and Adobe’s EchoSign; many others are on board, including AutoCAD, Documents to Go, DocuSign GoodReader, Mindjet and TouchDraw.

OneCloud also includes a “View More Apps” menu item which lets you visit a guide to productivity apps recommended by Box, including both ones that support OneCloud and ones that don’t. It’s not a full-blown software marketplace: If you want to buy any of them, you get routed to Apple’s App Store.

Via Scoop.ithuman being in – perfección

Box, the uncommonly ambitious cloud storage company that focuses on business use, is launching a service designed to let productivity apps on iOS — and, eventually, other operating systems — talk to each other.

There are lots of great productivity apps for the iPhone and iPad. I use several of them every day, and prefer them, in some cases, to traditional PC-based programs.

What there isn’t is a great way to move documents and data between them. Sometimes, you can move something you’re working on from one app into another — but can’t move it back. Sometimes you must resort to kludges such as e-mailing a file to yourself. And while Apple’s iCloud may eventually make all this easier, Apple still hasn’t fully implemented it for its own productivity apps, such as Pages, let alone third-party apps.

End result: If you’re trying to do useful stuff on an Apple mobile device, you end up with bits and pieces of data everywhere, and can’t always get them where you want them to go. Leer más “Box Wants to Be the Cloud-Based File System for Mobile Business Apps | Techland |”

Hey, It’s Microsoft Office 15!

By HARRY MCCRACKEN | @harrymccracken |

Office 15

PAUL THURROTT Leer más “Hey, It’s Microsoft Office 15!”