While not an official biography, the following is reprinted with the kind permission of the Royal Society.
by F.W. Campbell, F.R.S.†
In July 1982 the 74-year-old President of Polaroid retired, but not from work. With more than 500 patents behind him he decided to concentrate on his life-long, although sporadic, fascination with human colour vision. He said on his retirement ‘I look forward to a new period of creative freedom for myself.’
In 1980 Land saw the potential of a vacant lot beside the Charles River at Kendall Square and he decided to build there his Rowland Institute for Science. He retired there to pursue his hobbies and research. I have been unable to establish the reason for the name Rowland, other than that it was a name used among the Land family. Without any outside grant support, Land attracted a small band of kindred spirits to work on a wide range of subjects ranging through artificial intelligence, genetic algorithms, scanning tunnelling microscopy, holography, protein dynamics and, his long-time interest, colour vision.
A colleague of mine, distinguished for his research on colour vision, visited him there in May 1985 and described it as a cross between an art gallery and the private laboratory of a 19th-century gentleman scientist. The recluse Henry Cavendish (1731-1810) resembled Land in many ways and has been described as ‘the richest of the learned and the most learned of the rich’.
The success of the Rowland oasis, Din’s last experiment, will be watched by all scientists as the decades pass through the year 2000.