Memories of the Polavision Player (Re-) Assembly Line, Winter 1978

See, it was like this – I had a rough first-half of my sophomore year at Brown (beginning September 1977), and decided to “stop out” and take the second semester off. This was the cold, lonely winter of January 1978 and I was living at home with my skeptical parents and virtually nothing to do (I was supposed to be at school!). Luckily for me, my friend Chris Wetmore, who was attending some school in the Midwest, also stopped out, as did my Brown buddy Alex Viskovatoff (who was in Connecticut), so I did have some companionship.

Chris and I landed (no pun intended) some temp work on a special assembly line set up by Polaroid at one of their film warehouses in Needham, Massachusetts. This was pretty much unskilled labor, and the wages were low. At the front of the line, brand new Polavision players from Eumig in Austria were being unpacked from their boxes and partially disassembled. Then they were sent down the line to Chris and Myself (and others), who first placed a special jig on the front of the unit and then popped in a dummy Polavision cassette, which caused the unit to light up and start playing.

Our job was to adjust some thingy inside the unit, a photovoltaic cell perhaps, while paying careful attention to the numbers displayed on an LCD readout on the front of the special jig. We turned the adjuster inside the Polavision player until the numbers came within a certain range. The goal was to brighten up all the projection bulbs inside the Polavision players.

Apparently the very dense Polavision film was looking too dark for the few customers who actually bought the things, and our job was to brighten up the display. Then we sent the readjusted units down the line and they were reassembled and repacked.

There was an air of futility and desperation about the whole thing, even then. We were all going through the motions. I was happy, indeed, to go back to school in September 1978. I think there was only one person in the entire world who thought Polavision could be a success. And we all know who that person was!

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