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From the buzzards perspective...

Random articles that are created as I travel, experience new things, meet new people and discover new insights.

  • Writer's pictureEddy Weiss

We will never forget

You may not think that this is emergency management related, but you would be SO WRONG.

Spencer Silver

In 1968, Spencer Silver, a scientist at 3M’s headquarters in Maplewood, Minnesota was working to create a strong adhesive. Accidentally, he developed a new material that was light enough to easily remove and peel apart. Silver felt that he had invented something unique and useful but struggled to find what that use could be. He spent five years meeting with others at 3M, trying to find someone who could recognize the unique capabilities of his invention and create a new product with it.

At this time, Art Fry, another 3M employee, was frustrated when his scrap-paper bookmarks fell out of the hymnal he used while singing in his church choir. As he was thinking of ways to make a better bookmark, Silver’s “not-so-sticky” adhesive came to mind as a way to make pieces of paper slightly sticky without adhering permanently.

Fry realized that the sticky papers would work better as notes, and the product idea was solidified. Henry Courtney and Roger Merrill—two other members of the research team—found a way to make the adhesive attach to one piece of paper. Their changes allowed the note to stick to, and be removed from, other paper and objects. The product was originally called Press n’ Peel.

After mixed success in market tests in several major cities, 3M almost decided to stop producing the Post-it Note. In a final effort to test the product’s potential, marketers decided to give it directly to consumers in Boise, Idaho. They wanted to see if giving consumers free samples would increase sales. This marketing test became known as the Boise Blitz and was wildly successful. About 90 percent of people who tried the product said they would buy it.

In 1980, the Post-it Note was made available to customers in U.S. stores. It became hugely popular.

Since their debut in 1980, Post-it Notes have become an office staple and entered pop culture. This week we celebrate the anniversary of the release of this magical invention to the public.

Yes, 43 years ago this week emergency management was given a way to file important numbers gathered in the midst of disasters. A means of writing down reminders in the heat of response. A way of communicating with irritating staff members you cannot find when you need them.

This invention gave us a place where you can begin to write yet another resignation letter you never intend on sending in. Yes, it was 43 years ago this week that we began to recognize things of importance as being pastel yellow. We began to shorten sentences so they fit within a 2 inch square (the beginning of Twitter?). We began to spend more money on small blocks of paper than we ever did on ledger pads.

Yes, this week we celebrate one of the most un-celebrated tools of the emergency manager.

Spencer, Art, Henry and Roger…you are gods among men and we will never forget you (because we wrote your names on a Post-It).


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