- The Washington Times - Friday, April 7, 2000

MAPLEWOOD, Minn. They're not just canary yellow anymore, and they're not always square. Post-it Notes have come a long way in 20 years.

The little notes are now available in 56 shapes, 27 sizes and 50 colors. There also are Post-it Flags, Post-it Easel Pads, Post-it Pop-up Dispensers, Post-it Self-Stick Bulletin Boards and more.

The ubiquitous little bits of paper with sticky backing made by Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Co., or 3M, turned 20 Thursday.

"My biggest reward as an inventor is to see so many people use and appreciate my product," said Art Fry, the 3M scientist who invented the Post-it Note.

It might never have happened if Mr. Fry hadn't been a singer in his church choir.

He would use slips of paper to mark his place in the hymnal, but they constantly fell out. He knew he needed a better way to keep his place or he would forever be out of sync.

Then Mr. Fry heard about a unique adhesive Spencer Silver had developed in a 3M lab. It was sticky, but could be repositioned. He knew he had the answer to his bookmark dilemma.

A short time later, Mr. Fry wrote a note on his bookmark and stuck it on a report going to one of his colleagues. Only then did he realize he had a new way to communicate and organize information.

After initial market tests in 1977 drew little interest, the Maplewood-based company decided to give away thousands of the little Post-it pads. Consumers overwhelmingly liked the idea.

3M began selling Post-it Notes in 1980. Two years later, the company introduced Post-it Printed Notes. In 1990, came the Post-it Pop-up Dispenser to keep the notes close at hand.

In 1996, the concept went digital with Post-it Software Notes. And 3M isn't done yet. This year, the company will introduce 4-inch square lined Post-it Notes.

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