4-6-15-Arthur Fry with post-it

Monday, April 6, 2015

On April 6, 1980 the handy Post It® Note was introduced to American consumers. While the concept was very simple, the development of the product took twelve years.

In 1968, Dr. Spencer Silver, a chemist for the 3M Company, was conducting research on strong adhesives. Instead of a new super glue, he discovered a compound called “microspheres” that are only slightly sticky. They could be easily peeled off and reapplied to a surface and they didn’t leave a residue. Silver knew he was on to something, but wasn’t sure how to use an adhesive that didn’t stick very well. Dr. Art Fry, another 3M scientist came up with the solution because he kept losing scraps of paper he used in his hymnal during choir practice.

Fry and Silver partnered to develop a new product– a removable bookmark. They applied the adhesive to yellow scrap paper used in the labs. When they discovered how easy it was to leave notes for one another on their test strips, they realized that they had created more than a bookmark. The team convinced 3M to test the sticky notes in the company’s corporate offices and found that employees loved them. A marketing test in Idaho provided similar results.

Post It® Notes are now a staple in offices, in student backpacks, and on many refrigerator doors. You can even put electronic “post its” on your computer desktop.

Drs. Fry and Silver retired from 3M with many awards for their research. Dr. Silver had more than 22 patents to his name.

Photo: Dr. Art Fry models a Post It®


To commemorate the City of Troy’s 60th Anniversary in 2015, we will publish a different story each day that highlights a person, discovery, or event that occurred locally, regionally, nationally, or even globally between 1955 and 2015 and that helped shape our lives and our community. We will try to post stories on important anniversary dates, but we also realize that dates are less critical than content and context. We will include the facts related to controversial stories, allowing our readers to form their own opinions. We invite you to read and comment on the stories. Your suggestions for topics are also welcome and can be posted on our Facebook page, www.facebook.com/TroyHistoricVillage. You can also email stories or ideas to the 365 Story Editor at ed@thvmail.org.

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