If you ever thought that something you created wasn’t all that good, or might not be much use it is worth considering the plight of the humble, yet mighty Post-It note. It didn’t have the most auspicious of starts in life but when it comes to dominating the world of stationary there is very little that comes close.
The glue that makes the Post-It possible was actually an absolute failure. The man behind this disaster was Spencer Silver, a scientist at 3M, who was charged with the task of producing a strong adhesive. This was about 1970. His concoction however was actually really weak and as such was canned; however, the research wasn’t destroyed.
Scoot forward a few years and a fellow researcher at 3M called Art Fry was struggling with keeping his place in his song book while singing for a choir. His bookmarks kept slipping out and causing him a right kerfuffle. It was then that he remembered the weak glue created by his colleague Spencer. He tested out the idea by coating some of his markers in the adhesive and bingo, it worked! They stayed in place and could be removed easily without damaging the paper, genius!
3M saw the potential and set to work, however the company wasn’t entirely confident in the commercial aspect of the product and this was confirmed in 1977, when tested under the name Press ‘n’ Peel results were less than encouraging. However they stuck with it and dished out a huge amount of free samples in Boise, Idaho. This was the turn around. Of the companies given free samples over 90% reordered. 3M knew they were on to something.
Post-It Notes were launched in 1980 and 3M has never looked back, and neither has the Post-It…
On the website there are examples of amazing feats achieved by Post-Its, and the little sticky note has achieved some remarkable things.
- One Post-It managed to stay stuck to the nose of an aeroplane from Las Vegas to Minneapolis. The note would have been subjected to speeds of over 500 miles an hour and temperatures as low as -50 degrees Fahrenheit.
- In 1989 a family left a note scribbled on a Post-It to their front door. It stayed there three days which doesn’t seem overly impressive, except that during those three days the front door and Post-It endured hurricane Hugo.
- A line of evening wear was created by designer Lize Vitolina entirely from Post-Its.
And that’s just scratching the surface; we’ve not even mention the Post-It in art or pop culture! One thing is clear though it’s not going away any time soon and why should it?! It’s super useful. The Post-It brand now lists a product catalogue of over 4000 items, not bad for a bit of paper with some glue on one edge…
Danny Rose uses a lot of Post-It Notes, both to inform and annoy colleagues at Find Me A Gift, the home of a wild range of novelty products.