Can a Seattle Startup Launch a Fusion Reactor Into Space?

This article was first published as “The battle for the SX-70.” It appeared in the May 1989 issue of IEEE Spectrum. A PDF version is available on IEEE Xplore. The diagrams and photographs appeared in the original print version.

Yet this complicated system had to fit in a package the size of Land’s jacket pocket, he decreed—a constraint that meant employing ICs. But as Polaroid could not fabricate ICs, the success of its SX-70 project lay in the hands of outsiders.

The flash control contract was given to General Electric Co. Then in 1971, when GE dropped out of the IC business, it was issued to Sprague Electric Corp., as well as to Fairchild Semiconductor Corp. of Palo Alto, Calif., and Texas Instruments Inc. of Dallas, Texas. Only Fairchild and Sprague ended up producing flash controllers.

Independent contracts to develop the motor and exposure control modules went to Fairchild and

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