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Value of Those Ears!

The expression, “making a silk purse out of a sow’s ear” fascinates me. It was first used in a 1579 book written by Stephen Gosson. I like the originality. Apparently others did too. It was used by Charlotte M. Yonge in The Armour’s Prentices (1864), “He always was an unmannerly cub… I’ve done my best to make a silk purse of a sow’s ear”.

Sure, the pig doesn’t understand why his ear is better served as a purse than a listening device, but that’s retail. It does stand for the premise of turning a something of no value, into something valuable. Plus, the blog has now given you some useless information on the origination of something that should cause all pigs to picket. But, it also lends itself to the following story:

In 1968, 3M employee Spencer Silver was attempting to develop a super-strong adhesive for use by the aerospace industry, for building airplanes. Instead, he ended up with something not so helpful, that was a weak adhesive called Acrylate Copolymer Microsphere. The sticky part was pressure sensitive and reusable. But his employer, 3M was unimpressed.

In 1974, another 3M employee, Art Fry, was dealing with an irritation as he sang in the church choir. He would mark his hymnal pages with small bits of paper, but the small pieces of paper would invariably fall out, causing him to lose his marked place.

Suddenly, an idea struck Fry. He remembered that adhesive that was developed by a colleague, that everyone thought was a failure because it did not stick very well. “I coated the adhesive on a paper sample,” Fry recalled, “and I found that it was not only a good bookmark, but it was great for writing notes. It will stay in place as long as you want it to, and then you can remove it without damage.” 

Fry came up with the idea of using the adhesive on small notes and 3M launched the idea under “Press and Peel” in 1977. It wasn’t an immediate success. They renamed it Post-it Notes in 1980, and it became a nationwide success. The yellow colored paper was initially used because 3M had leftover canary-colored paper. And that’s the rest of the story!

Turning nothing into something. A bad situation into something good.  All of a sudden, something to celebrate!


And for pic o’ day, more discovery!


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