One Sunday in 1974, Art Fry, a new-products developer at 3M, was singing in his church choir.
“I found that the little piece of paper I used to mark the music had fallen out, making me fumble about trying to find the right page.
“This was followed by a dull sermon. My mind was wandering back to the music problem when I had one of those ‘flashes of insight.’ Eureka! By using a recently invented adhesive, I could make a bookmark that could be stuck on, and removed, without damaging the book.”
What Was This New Adhesive?
In 1970 Spencer Silver, a chemist at 3M, was trying to develop a strong glue. But his new adhesive was super-weak instead of super-strong. It stuck to objects but could be easily peeled off.
No one knew what to do with it, but Silver didn’t discard his new glue.
What happened after Fry realized this new adhesive could make a great bookmark?
“The next day at work, I prepared some samples of the bookmark. My colleagues started using their bookmark samples as notes and soon were at my desk saying that they were instant addicts and demanding more samples. As the circle of addiction quickly spread within our product development laboratory, I came to the very exciting and satisfying realization that those little, self-attaching notes were a very useful product.
“We realized that what we had was not just a bookmark, but a new way to communicate or organize information. ”
The Post-it® Note was born.
“This of course was just the beginning of the innovation process. Samples had to be tested for every [possible] application we could think of. We had many tough problems to solve in manufacturing, quality, packaging, and sales. It took a lot of us to solve those problems, and we all feel good about what we did.”
“My satisfaction has always been in making things that people really need, but cannot make for themselves. When those things [are still] used after I am gone, it will be as if part of me will live on forever.”