"If it were easy, someone else would do it." – Art Fry, Inventor of the Post-it® Note

Art Fry, Inventor of Post-it NotesThey are probably all over your computer at work. You use them at home to post the shopping list on the fridge, to leave a telephone message where it will be seen, or to flag a page in a catalog. They even come in a software version so you can remind yourself of tasks and appointments right on your computer screen. Have you guessed yet? That's right, we're talking about... Post-it® Notes!

A 3M product developed in the mid 1970's, Post-it® Notes have become an office-supply staple and are now produced in myriad sizes and colors. But how do they work? Interestingly enough, it's because the molecules in the Post-it® adhesive are round. According to 3M, "The adhesive used on Post-it® Notes is a microsphere type adhesive. It sticks lightly and repositions because the microspheres limit the amount of surface area contact between the adhesive and the substrate."

This past May, Art Fry, the inventor of Post-it® Notes, gave the keynote address at INPEX® Inventors University™ in Pittsburgh, PA. Those in attendance learned that Fry, a tenor in his church choir, invented the Post-it® in an effort to create "sticky" bookmarks that wouldn't fall out of his hymnal during services.

Art Fry began his career at 3M – the parent company of Post-it®, Scotchgard™ and many other well known products, right out of college. 3M has long been known for its innovation. According to Mr. Fry, 3M employees and scientists are encouraged to step outside of their own departments and projects to learn what people in other areas of the company are doing, encouraging synergy.

That's how Fry learned about 3M researcher Spencer Silver's "failed" (not-sticky-enough) adhesive. Fry used the adhesive to create his hymnal bookmark. After using one of his hand-made Post-it® Notes to make a notation on an internal report, Fry found himself inundated with requests from co-workers for more of that sticky notepaper.

INPEX Inventors University™ is a part of INPEX – The Invention & New Product Exposition, America's largest invention trade show. For the 20th year, INPEX provided a forum for inventors and entrepreneurs to exhibit their inventions, share their ideas and try to make contacts with companies interested in new products.

Each year INPEX culminates in the annual Awards Program during which gold, silver and bronze medals, cash prizes, and corporate trophies are awarded. An international jury judges inventions during the trade show.

This year, Mr. Fry presented the Art Fry Excellence in Innovation Award to INPEX exhibitor Dave Melton for his invention Pryoflex – a fire retardant material for use in the manufacture of such products as Styrofoam, to make them more flame resistant.

2004 marked Mr. Fry's second appearance at INPEX.

Art Fry's "Characteristics of Inventors"
  • independent thinker with a dash of madness
  • stamina and toughness
  • broad skills
  • entrepreneurial
  • passion
  • willing to take ownership and responsibility
  • honesty
  • have a fluency of ideas and novel ideas
  • identify problems
  • flexible open mind/resiliency
  • synthesizing and analyzing abilities
  • willing to reorganize and redefine
  • can handle complexity and confusion
  • seeks patterns
  • warrior spirit
If these sound like you, then according to Mr. Fry, you've got all the qualities of an inventor!

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