One day on the choir loft at his church, Art Fry was warming is vocal cords. He tried to turn the page of his book and his bookmark fell out of its place to the floor. Frustrated, Fry thought about a special type of adhesive a 3M colleague, Spence Silver, discovered five years earlier.
He wondered if he could apply the adhesive to the bookmark to prevent such a mishap. The next day, he ordered a sample and began coating the edge of the paper in an attempt to come up with a better bookmark. However, while he experimented with it, he started using the “sticky bookmarks” to write messages to his boss.
That was the heart of the idea. It wasn’t a bookmark, but a note.
Silver’s adhesive was useful to make paper adhere to paper and other surfaces, but wasn’t so sticky that it would damage those surfaces when it was pulled off - a whole new concept in pressure-sensitive adhesives.
While Fry encountered serious technical problems, he searched to find manufacturing solutions to evolve the idea to a marketable product. His boss, Bob Molenda mentored and sponsored him by finding the time and money to dedicate to his project. It would take until 1980 (12 patient years later) to successfully test, trial and launch the blockbuster idea—
Since then, the product range has evolved into hundreds of products that changed people’s communication and organisation behaviour, forever.