🟨 The Accidental Invention of Post-it Notes

Henry Belcaster
Henry Belcaster
3 min read

Good morning, worker bee 🐝

You know those little golden, sticky papers that you write all your to-dos on…

Then slap on your laptop like you’re gonna eventually get to them throughout the day…

But instead they just kinda curl up and wither away over the weeks because you never actually do what you’re supposed to do but instead only do what’s right in front of your stupid, ugly face because you’ve been dealing with lifelong self-image issues, low self-esteem, and general, crippling procrastination?

I know.

A you problem.

Definitely not a me problem…

What’s funny about that whole sticky situation is that these things weren’t meant to exist in the first place.

The inventor of Post-It notes was trying to make an adhesive strong enough for airplanes…

He failed.

And instead, he accidentally invented a not-very-sticky but just-sticky-enough, reusable piece of paper.

The story starts with this dude – Dr. Spencer Silver – who’s busy working in 3M’s central research lab.

Wtf is 3M you ask?

It’s the #1 company for sticking stuff.

Today, they make makes Scotch tape and Command Strips.

Household. Classics.

But in 1968, Dr. Silver spends his days developing that ~OOEY GOOEY~ for 3M — adhesives.

Now, Silver’s goal is to create an adhesive that can be used to literally hold airplanes together.

Like the STICKIEST, most PERMANENT sh*t in manufacturing.

But he keeps coming up with formulas that stick well to a surface, then can be peeled off and reused.

Polar opposite situation.

So Silver starts doing these lectures at 3M to show colleagues his not-so-sticky glue.

And this colleague Art Fry gets curious.

Art Fry was in 3M’s tape division — and wants to create a new product.

So the two buddy up.

But, they didn’t have any ideas. Remember Silver invented a glue THAT WASN’T VERY GLUE-Y.

Until one Sunday, Art’s going to church.

And when he sits down in the pew he notices a problem: The slips of paper Fry is using as bookmarks in his hymnal?

They keep falling out.

Plus his hymnal pages tear like tissue paper when he’s trying to bust out a verse of ‘How Great Thou Art’.

Fry needs a gentle bookmark solution, and Dr. Silver accidentally has one 💦

So in 1993 they patent the “repositionable pressure-sensitive adhesive sheet material.”

The post-it note:

And today they’re just another great reminder of our inability to get anything meaningful done.

Stay cute,
Henry & Dylan 🌈

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