Life and work
Silver was born in San Antonio, Texas. He majored in chemistry at Arizona State University, earning a B.S. in 1962, then earned a doctorate in organic chemistry from the University of Colorado at Boulder in 1966, before taking a position as a Senior Chemist in 3M's Central Research Labs.
In 1968, Silver developed a "low-tack" adhesive made of tiny acrylic spheres that would stick only where they were tangent to a given surface, rather than flat up against it. The adhesive's grip was strong enough to hold papers together, but weak enough to allow the papers to be pulled apart again without being torn. It could also be used again and again. The adhesive was patented in 1972 and described as suitable for use as a spray.
In 1974, Art Fry attended an internal seminar at 3M held by Spencer Silver, who was promoting his adhesive's properties. Fry regarded it as a potential solution to a practical challenge, that of preventing paper bookmarks from falling out of his hymnal when he sang in church. Fry developed bookmarks using Silver's adhesive, preventing them from leaving residue, and sought to interest others within the 3M company in them. The adhesive notes were initially marketed under the name Post 'n Peel in four cities from 1977 and as Post-it Notes from 1980 throughout the United States. The product became very popular and has been sold worldwide since.
Silver worked at 3M until he retired in 1996. He is named in over 20 US patents.
Spencer Silver has received several awards for his work, including the 1998 American Chemical Society Award for Creative Invention and induction into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 2010.
- "About Post-it Brand". 3M. Retrieved January 8, 2011.
- "Inductees > Spencer Silver". National Inventors Hall of Fame. NIHF. Retrieved October 24, 2019.
- "Inventor of the Week Archive: Art Fry & Spencer Silver". MIT. Retrieved January 8, 2011.[dead link]
- "US Patent 3691140A Acrylate copolymer microspheres". Google Patents. Google Inc. Retrieved October 24, 2019.
- Meyer, Nancy (October 1, 2018). "Arthur Fry, Inventor of 3M's Post-it Note". WeMentor. WeMentor Inc. Retrieved October 24, 2019.
- Flavell-While, Claudia (August 15, 2012). "Spencer Silver and Arthur Fry: the chemist and the tinkerer who created the Post-it Note". The Chemical Engineer. Institution of Chemical Engineers. Retrieved October 25, 2019.
- Duguid, Sarah (December 3, 2010). "First Person: 'We invented the Post-it Note'". Financial Times. The Financial Times Ltd. Retrieved October 24, 2019.
- "ACS Award for Creative Invention". ACS. American Chemical Society. Retrieved October 25, 2019.