Funnliy, for someone who uses so many post it notes, I have never asked myself this question. (I am a little embarrassed by this since ‘Why?’ is such a fundamental question in Agile Coaching!} Today, by accident, I discovered the answer.
In a book for Agile stationery-lovers everywhere, The Perfection of the Paper Clip, author James Ward reveals the answer:
“The Post-it note came about by accident, really. There was a guy called Spencer Silver, who was working at 3M. He was trying to come up with a really strong glue. Unfortunately, he got the formula wrong and created a very, very weak glue, which is not much use if you’re a company that sells glue. There was another colleague there called Art Fry, who as well as working for 3M, he was in a choir, and he used to use little pieces of paper to mark the pages in his hymn book. And those bits of paper would keep falling out, and he thought, oh, if only there was some kind of weak glue that I could use to stick these bits of paper in the book … and that’s how the Post-it note was born.”
Ironically, a solution looking for a problem!
Read more about the book and listen to the author on NPR radio here. For more on the history of the post-it note, visit the post-it website.