For businesses, busy households, and forgetful people, post-it notes can be a vital tool in helping to remember or identify things, and can also be used as a temporary file divider, amongst other applications. The often-bright colours can often draw attention away from their simple design that has become of use to so many over the years, but who came up with this product, and why ?
Despite seeming simple in design, there appears to be a fine art to getting the ‘sticky strip’ to be only on a small portion on the top of the reverse side, while also making it grip its designated surface enough to hang on, but also to not be strong enough to cause any permanent fixtures or damage. They are mass-produced now, meaning that it is a simple creation process, but the original science behind Post-it notes was seen as good enough to induct its creators to the National Inventor Hall of Fame.
These inventors were two reasearchers for stationary and office equipment company 3M during the late 1970’s. Their names were Spencer Silver and Arthur Fry.
In the 1960’s, Silver developed a form of glue that managed to have a low level of adhesion, but could not find any practical use for it, until colleague Fry, who wanted a way to keep track of the pages in his hymn book at church, tried the new glue alongside a paper bookmark after experiments in the company laboratories. The end result had the desired effect, as the new glue-paper could be removed (and reused) many times over before wearing out.
In 1977, their bosses at 3M took on the product to make and sell what they marketed as ‘Post-it’ notes, and after word eventually spread of the new product, it took America, and then the rest of the world, by storm, earning 3M a National Medal of Technology during 1985, and giving Fry and Spencer the recognition they deserved.
Below is a famous commercial that 3M made for their Post-it notes, featuring oversized versions of the product, and a collection of well-organised squirrels: