Post-it notes help us remember stuff and mark our place in books. They come in myriad colors (though canary yellow is the classic) and stick a little but not too much.
Although their stickiness may seem like a simple concept, the science behind Post-it notes recently got their inventors inducted into the National Inventor Hall of Fame.
The notes were invented in the late 1970s by Spencer Silver and Arthur Fry, two researchers with the company 3M.
In the 1960s, Silver had developed a glue that had a low degree of adhesion, for which there seemed to be no practical use. But his colleague Fry, tired of losing his place in his hymn book at church, took the formula and tried applying it to a paper bookmark in his lab.
Presto! Silver's glue was sticky but not too sticky, so the paper could be removed and reused many times. In 1977, 3M started selling Post-it notes, but it wasn't until an intense marketing campaign in Idaho coined the Boise Blitz that their usefulness was demonstrated to the public and the product really took off.
Within just a few years, Post-it notes became a national mainstay, and helped 3M earn a National Medal of Technology in 1985.
Arthur Fry and Spencer Silver went on to make many more scientific contributions at 3M, but perhaps none are as widely recognized as these sticky yellow squares.
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