Post-It-Notes At 30

I'm not going to lie: I have an addiction to Post-It Notes. I use them for reminders of the music that's on my iPod Shuffle, make lists of people to call, jot down tasks to complete at work, and even scribble down self-motivators (the one hanging from my right computer monitor says "You CAN do this.") I'm surrounded by them — in my room, in my desk drawer, and strangely enough, in my wallet. On top of that, I own a Post-It Note calendar. My allegiance to the 3M product runs deep. But it wasn't until its 30th birthday that I knew the true origin on the canary yellow sticky pad.

The invention of the popular office supply started when British ex-pat Geoff Nicholson took up a job with 3M in 1963. He became intrigued by his coworker, Spencer Silver, and his formula for a strong adhesive. Nicholson convinced Silver that his invention was worthwhile, but they must not tell their bosses.

Patrick Barkham of The Guardian filled me in on the rest:

Another colleague, Art Fry, came up with the idea of using the adhesive in a notepad, and began using the notes to mark pages of a hymn book. Nicholson distributed samples around the office for colleagues to try and they quickly inundated his secretary with requests for more. She marched up to Nicholson and told him: "Do you want me to be your secretary or your distributor? I can't do both jobs!"

Nicholson's marketing director still wasn't buying the idea, of paying money for scraps of paper. But his coworkers were on board. Once the boss received requests for Post-It Notes, the rest was history.

Take a look at the Post-It Note site (and video above), and it's safe to say that they have come along way. Super-Sticky notes, tabs for books, name badges, and my new favorite — the slightly unnecessary, but extremely amusing Post-It Note gun. If these things ever go the way of Polaroid film, trust me, I will be one of the first labeling freaks to hoard them off eBay.

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.