The Accidental Invention of the Post-It Note

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Sometimes an invention comes about after realizing there is a problem to be solved and creating something to solve it. Other times, however, inventions emerge by chance. Such was the case with a type of adhesive paper currently in schools, homes, and offices everywhere. It‘s what we know of today as the Post-It note.

A research scientist for the company 3M, Dr. Spence Silver, in his many trials and errors, produced an adhesive that would stick but not very firmly when joined with tape backings, according to an article featured on the site Snopes.com. At the time, he and others found such a thing useless. This was in 1968.

Several years later, another worker at 3M thought the adhesive when applied to small sheets of paper could prove useful as bookmarks in his church hymnal. He experimented with the product and the Post-It note was born.

When given a stack of Post-It notes as part of a trial, secretaries came up with additional uses for them, and 3M went on to market and sell what’s become one of the top-selling office supplies of all time.