A Historical past Of Put up-It Notes: When Had been They Invented And Why?

1980s | April 6, 2021

Put up-it Notes manufactured by 3M. (Scott Olson/Getty Photos)

Need to remind your self to choose up your dry cleaning? A visible brainstorming device to your subsequent assembly? To go away a candy little love be aware to your honey on the toilet mirror? Chances are high, your go-to medium for these duties is the common-or-garden yellow Put up-it Observe. Since 1980, the little paper squares have turn into as a lot an ordinary workplace provide as staplers and paper clips, however the world got here very near lacking out on the Put up-it Observe phenomenon.

Holy Notes

In 1968, chemist Spencer Silver was working for the Minnesota-based manufacturing empire 3M to create a super-strong adhesive for aircraft construction and upkeep. Experimenting with co-polymer microspheres, Silver created a light yet effective adhesive that may very well be simply eliminated with out inflicting injury and remained sticky sufficient to be reused a number of occasions. As distinctive as this adhesive is, it was not the “Eureka!” second Silver had hoped for. Actually, to his co-workers and supervisors, it was a failure. In any case, it was uniquely ill-suited to plane restore.

However Silver thought his adhesive invention was fairly neat, so for a number of years, he talked up his creation to his colleagues at 3M. He was sure that, with the proper utility, his peel-and-reuse adhesive may very well be a sport changer. Like an indication from the heavens, his colleague Artwork Fry introduced simply such a problem for Silver’s creation in 1974 when he had bother maintaining his makeshift bookmarks between the pages of his church hymnbook. He remembered Silver boasting that his adhesive may persist with paper and be eliminated with out tearing, so he requested Silver to make him some notes he may publish in it. Some Put up-it Notes, if you’ll. Fry and the opposite members of his church choir had been thrilled with the outcome.

A small pad of original-style lined yellow Put up-It model notes. (Erik Breedon/Wikimedia Commons)

Posting It

As luck would have it, across the similar time, new administration took over at 3M, and Silver satisfied new merchandise lab supervisor Geoff Nicholson to assist him develop his creation. There was no worth in sticky bookmarks, so Nicholson’s workforce designed a prototype for a brand new form of office bulletin board that used sticky notes as an alternative of thumbtacks, however the concept bombed in focus teams. Individuals did not wish to purchase a particular bulletin board once they already had one, however Nicholson’s workforce realized they themselves had stumbled upon the Put up-it Observe’s actual benefit with out even noticing. The small slips of paper had been excellent for jotting down a fast reminder or message and caught to most surfaces, so that they had begun leaving messages for themselves and one another everywhere in the workplace.

It took 3M till 1977 to formally roll out the brand new product, now bearing their notorious model identify, in check markets in 4 U.S. cities—the place they completely flopped. The thought was shelved once more till 1980, when the advertising workforce created an in depth marketing campaign to push the product on yuppie, business-oriented professionals as a brand new, hip workplace provide. Lastly, 12 years after Silver unintentionally developed his adhesive, Put up-it Notes grew to become an in a single day success. Immediately, 3M manufactures greater than 50 billion Put up-it Notes annually. The little yellow squares—which had been solely that color as a result of yellow paper is all that was accessible within the lab subsequent door and now are available a number of colours and shapes—have turn into a staple of a staple-less world.

Tags: 1980s | inventions | science

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Karen Harris


Karen left the world of educational, quitting her job as a university professor to write down full-time. She spends her days together with her firefighter husband and 4 daughters on a pastime farm with an assortment of animals, together with a goat named Atticus, a turkey named Gravy, and a hen named Chickaletta.

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