It’s virtually impossible to imagine the contemporary office without at least a few sticky Post-It notes stuck on the computer monitor.
The Post-It note has injected its sunny yellow colour into the dullest office environment for over 30 years and would appear at first glance to be an item with a clear design brief.
It was, in fact, the result of a happy accident.
In 1968 a chemist called Dr Spencer Silver, working for the American 3M company, was developing adhesives that were strong enough to hold two materials together without it being a permanent adhesion.
Calling himself a ‘molecular architect’ he was looking for something called ‘peel adhesion’, which basically meant an adhesive that had mobility, the ability to be re-used.
Constituted from tiny individual spheres of glue (a word that Silver disliked due to its clumsy connotation of boiled-down animal bones), this new adhesive was reusable, maintaining its stickiness no matter how many times papers applied with it were attached and re-attached.
No one could quite see how this might be useful, although the possible notion of using it in an aerosol can as a spray-on glue seemed a likely outcome.
But Dr Silver was so taken with this new adhesive that he gave seminars about it throughout the company whenever possible—which is how Art Fry, a colleague at 3M who had worked on the development of sticky tape, came to remember it.