He combined his need for better bookmarks with a new adhesive and built a machine in his basement to manufacture tacky,repositionable notes.
The Post-it Note was born.
Fry,his collaborator Spencer Silver,and 14 other inventors were named Wednesday as new members of the National Inventors Hall of Fame. The six living recipients and 10 posthumously honored inventors were added to the list of 405 people inducted since the Hall of Fame was founded in 1973.
They are to be inducted at a ceremony Wednesday
To be chosen,inventors must hold a patent,and the invention must have aided the welfare of mankind while pushing the progress of science.
“The Post-it Note made life easier for people in today's fast-paced world full of information,” Fry said.
The useful sticky notes came about in 1974 after Fry had seen a presentation about a weak adhesive Silver,his 3M Company colleague,had accidentally created while trying to improve tape.
“I think it's really necessary people think freely and aren't afraid to make errors,” Silver said.
Like the birth of Post-it Notes,the discovery of glass ceramics was a mistake.
In 1953,S. Donald Stookey,a researcher at Corning,was heating a piece of glass when the furnace controller malfunctioned and cranked the heat to over 900 degrees Centigrade – a level at which glass would normally melt. Surprisingly,he found the glass intact.
“I accidentally dropped it on the floor,and it rang like a piece of metal,it didn't break like glass,so I realized at that point that I had something new that wasn't glass anymore,” Stookey said.
The new material was as light as aluminum and stronger than any other glass. Corning used the glass ceramic to create a new line of cookware that debuted in 1958 and became a nationwide sensation.
Gamers around the world have Ralph Baer to thank for video games. In 1967,he created the “Brown Box” – a device that hooked up to a TV,allowing users to play interactive games.
Baer was working for Sanders Associates,a defense-electronics business. Although the military uses gaming technology today to train soldiers,it didn't see its value in the late 1960s.
So Baer peddled his product to consumer electronics companies. In 1971,Magnavox licensed the gaming console and renamed it “Odyssey.” The world's first video game console debuted in late 1972,retailed for $100 and sold more than 350,000 units in the first two years.
In 1978,Baer invented the electronic pattern-matching game “Simon” for Mattel,which continues to be sold today.
Jacques-Yves Cousteau and Emile Gagnan,both deceased,were named for inventing the Aqualung,or SCUBA,diving equipment.
Other inductees to the Hall of Fame include the inventors of the GPS navigation system,polymer cable sheath used to protect communication cables and cancer research that has led to many successful cancer drugs.
Yvonne Brill was working as a rocket scientist a decade before the first satellite was launched by the Soviet Union in 1957. She invented the electrothermal hydrazine thruster rocket system still used to keep communication satellites in the proper alignment to earth.
Brill was one of a few women engineers in the 1940s and 1950s,and said she felt like “one of the fellows.”
“There's a lot more women engineers now then there used to be,” she said.
She is active in many organizations to help young people – especially young women – excel in the field of engineering.
The National Inventors Hall of Fame Inc. is a nonprofit organization founded in 1973 by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and the National Council of Intellectual Property Law Associations. Its National Inventors Hall of Fame museum is in Alexandria,Va.
Here is the list of those being inducted this year,with biographies provided by the National Inventors Hall of Fame.
Ralph Baer: A pioneer in the field of interactive video,Baer invented what became known as the Magnavox Odyssey Home Video Game System,introduced in 1972. He also developed the well-known game “Simon,” a single-chip,microprocessor controlled memory game,introduced in 1978. In 2004,the video game industry accounted for more than $8 billion in sales,with sales of $15 billion projected for 2010.
Yvonne Brill: Yvonne Brill invented the small rocket propulsion systems used to keep geosynchronous communications satellites exactly where they need to be to align with antennas on earth. These rockets,called electrothermal hydrazine thrusters and developed at RCA Astro Electronics,first flew in space in 1981 and remain standard in the industry today.
Roger Easton: Roger Easton developed the satellite-based TIMATION system that included key components used in today's Global Positioning System. Easton's time navigation scheme,developed at the Naval Research Laboratory,was the first to fly atomic clocks on satellites,a breakthrough that enabled both space and ground based system components to maintain exact time synchronization.
Art Fry,Spencer Silver: In 1968,Spencer Silver was a senior scientist at 3M when he discovered an acrylic adhesive that had unique properties. Art Fry was a 3M researcher when he learned of the adhesive in the early 1970s. Experimenting with it,he created the concept of Post-it-Notes,and years of perfecting design and production followed. Post-it Notes were introduced in 1980 and are perennially on the lists of best-selling office products.
S. Donald Stookey: Donald Stookey spent his career at Corning Glass Works,where he invented glass ceramics. Glass ceramics heralded a new field of research in glass; their hardness and strength made them ideal for many industrial and aerospace uses but are perhaps best known for their use in the CorningWare line of consumer dishes introduced in 1958.
M. Judah Folkman (1933-2008): Judah Folkman was a surgical resident conducting research in the 1960s when he wondered if retarding angiogenesis,the formation of new blood vessels,could be a way to treat cancer. He discovered that blood vessel formation was crucial to tumor development and that limiting the flow of blood would keep tumors in check. His ideas were applied to cancer research and resulted in a number of successful cancer drugs,including Avastin.
Jacques-Yves Cousteau (1910-1997),Emile Gagnan (1900-1984): French natives Jacques Cousteau and Emile Gagnan combined Cousteau's practical underwater experience with Gagnan's engineering expertise to invent the demand regulator,the key component in Aqualung diving equipment,or SCUBA. First introduced in the U.S. in 1952,Cousteau's and Gagnan's underwater apparatus has become ubiquitous for underwater exploration and sport.
W. Lincoln Hawkins (1911-1992),Vincent Lanza (1922-1972),Field Winslow (1916-2009): Lincoln Hawkins,Vince Lanza and Field Winslow invented a process to make plastic sheathing to protect communications cables. Prior to their work,polymers designed to protect cable were ineffective and deteriorated rapidly,especially in sunlight. The Bell Labs team developed a unique formulation of additives to polyethylene,which was able to survive in direct sunlight and other harsh environmental conditions for 70 years,or more. Their sheathing is still used worldwide to protect both fiber optic and electrical communications cable.
Francis Bundy (1910-2008),H. Tracy Hall (1919-2008),Herbert Strong (1908-2002),Robert Wentorf,Jr. (1926-1997): Francis Bundy,Tracy Hall,Herbert Strong and Robert Wentorf were members of General Electric Research and Development's Project Superpressure team. During the 1950s,their experiments led to a process to produce synthetic diamond from carbon. Today hundreds of millions of carats of man-made diamonds are produced annually for all sorts of industrial applications,including surgery scalpels,highway resurfacing machines,stone cutting saw blades and fine grit for tooth polish.