A Brief History of the Post-It Note - 3M History

30th Oct 2020

40 years ago, 3M Scientist Art Fry invented the revolutionary stationery product that nobody ever knew they needed - until they did.

On the choir loft at his church, Art Fry was warming his vocal cords. He tried to turn the page of his book and his bookmark fell out of its place to the floor. Frustrated, Fry thought about an adhesive that a 3M colleague, Spence Silver, discovered five years earlier. Could he apply the adhesive to the bookmark to prevent such a mishap? The next day, Fry coated the edge of the paper with the adhesive to create a better bookmark. As Fry experimented, he found himself using the “sticky bookmarks” to write messages to his boss.

That was the heart of the idea. It wasn’t a bookmark, but a note.

Silver’s adhesive made paper adhere to various surfaces but wasn’t so sticky that it would damage those surfaces when it was pulled off. Fry encountered technical problems, and it wouldn’t be until 1980 (12 patient years later) that Fry successfully tested, trialed and launched the blockbuster idea - Post-it® Notes. Since then, the product range has evolved radically, changing how people communicate and organise themselves, forever.