Little Bits of History

Sticking to Business

Posted in History by patriciahysell on January 31, 2010

Scotch tape dispenser

January 31, 1930: 3M markets Scotch tape. Richard Drew developed the handy adhesive tape for the 3M corporation. It is a trademarked brand name, but is used generically across America. The clear tape was an improvement over the previously made masking tape. Drew not only developed the adhesive for the new material, cellophane, but went on to invent Duct tape as well. He was the inventor of masking tape five years prior to this.

The term “Scotch” in the name is not at all flattering. While the adhesive was being tested, it came loose because it was not fully coated with the active ingredients. The remark was a pejorative aside reflecting the stereotype of Scotch stinginess. Not one to let the moment pass, 3M created Scotty McTape, a kilt wearing cartoon lad to be the product mascot from 1944 and continuing on for two decades. The Wallace tartan plaid was added to the brand in 1945.

3M makes over 275 different kinds of tape, eighty-eight of them bearing the Scotch label. The company not only made tape, but has a variety of other ventures including defense materials, fabric protection, and videotape. The term “Scotch” is also added as a prefix to other products made by the company, Scotchguard and Schotchlite.

Perhaps the best known and most used product from 3M is the Post-It note. The original square yellow readherable paper now comes in a variety of shapes and a panoply of colors and has been widely copied by other manufacturers. Art Fry used Spencer Silver’s adhesive to create the handy removable papers. Silver invented the adhesive in 1968 and it took five years before Fry figured out a better use than simply bookmarking pages in a hymnal. The 1977 product launch wasn’t immediately successful but by 1980 the product was sold nationally and the next year also introduced in Canada.

“We patched it up with chewing gum and Scotch tape.” – Norm Hewitt

“The entrepreneurial approach is not a sideline at 3M. It is the heart of our design for growth.” – Lewis Lehr

“One only needs two tools in life: WD-40 to make things go, and duct tape to make them stop.” – G. Weilacher

“I was reading a book… ‘the history of glue’ – I couldn’t put it down.” – Tim Vine

Also on this day, in 1958 Explorer I was launched and the Van Allen Belts were found.

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  1. Love Bug « Little Bits of History said, on January 31, 2011 at 6:42 am

    […] on this day: Sticking to Business – In 1930, 3M marketed Scotch tape. Van Allen Belts – In 1958, Explorer I […]


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