back to article RIP Spencer Silver: Inventor of the Post-it Note, aka the office password reminder, dies

Spencer Silver, the co-creator of Post-it Notes found in offices all over the world – occasionally with passwords written on them – has died at the age of 80. Born in San Antonio, Texas, in 1941, Silver studied chemistry at Arizona State University, and then completed a PhD at the University of Colorado, Boulder in 1966. He …

  1. Tim99 Silver badge

    RIP Spencer

    A truly useful tool, but… I worked for an organization who’s security minded staff in the payroll office stuck the Post-it notes with their password *under* their keyboards - It was just almost all of the rest of the staff who put them on their monitor bezels…

    1. Chris G

      Re: RIP Spencer

      Spencer should really also be credited with inventing the first password management system too.

      In any event, his microspheres changed a significant part of how we communicate and buffer our memories.

      My fridge never has less than five or six Post it's reminding me to do something or other.

      1. Anonymous Coward

        Re: RIP Spencer

        Ah, the analog days. My family has pads of Post-its lying around and we use them for all sorts of notes.

        My only problem is my wife who leaves them with things like phone numbers or dollar amounts with no explanation like a name or a date, forgets what it's for, but doesn't want to throw them out "just in case."

    2. Ochib

      Re: RIP Spencer

      Did they record the passwords on the monitor bezels with a Dremel? The IT department that I used to work at caused mass confusion by swapping the monitors over one weekend.

      So many calls on Monday from users saying that their accounts had been locked, but they were sure that they were using the correct password.

    3. Antron Argaiv Silver badge

      Re: RIP Spencer

      The Post-It note under *my* keyboard says "Look elsewhere for my password"

      1. Arthur the cat Silver badge

        Re: RIP Spencer

        The Post-It note under *my* keyboard says "Look elsewhere for my password"

        That's quite a good pass phrase.

        1. Ian Mason

          Re: RIP Spencer

          Not under the keyboard, but a tale of passwords on little notes:

          Many years ago, after a cock-up at work that meant a magazine ended up late at the printers because someone was away and their network share was thereby inaccessible, the editor issued an edict that the managing editor should be given copies of everyone's passwords and a clipboard was produced with a list for everyone to add their password to and pass around. After yours truly pointed out the idiocy of handing the keys to the whole kingdom in plain sight to everyone we compromised on passwords in sealed envelopes being handed over.

          Being personally a bit distrustful of this situation I changed my actual network password to "F**k off Johnny you nosy bastard" and duly recorded this in a sealed envelope. The theory was if Johnny decided to take a sneaky peek when he shouldn't have he wouldn't believe that this was actually a password and give up at that point. Trust me, anybody who knows Johnny knows he's exactly the type to read other people's email if he could. It was a pain in the posterior to type - in an age where most people's passwords were 6 characters - but it was vaguely satisfying to know that at some point he was going to have read it and couldn't say anything about it.

          Names changed to protect the guilty.

      2. spireite Silver badge

        Re: keyboard

        Personally I've always been suspicious when I find a sticky keyboard

    4. Wyrdness

      Re: RIP Spencer

      A career in adhesives sounds like a sticky situation to be in.

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: RIP Spencer

      Once went to an unattended site in Edinburgh with a colleague. He was told the alarm code, but we had a bit of a scare when he had a brain fart when we got there and struggled to remember it. Finally entered it just before the alarm went off.

      Then we saw the Post It note with the code stuck on the wall below the keypad.

    6. EricB123 Bronze badge

      Re: RIP Spencer

      I had the unfortunate experience of going to a clinic in California to get a simple x-ray. I had to wait in a long line to talk to the receptionist. She replied that security meant that every precaution had to be taken, and that slows the line. When I pointed out that the building security alarm panel next to the receptionist window had the password written on it with a Sharpie, she was speechless.

  2. trevorde Silver badge

    Post a comment

    Oh, the irony

    1. Irony Deficient Silver badge

      Oh, the irony

      Huh? Where?

      1. Androgynous Cupboard Silver badge

        Re: Oh, the irony

        Meta overflow detected: too many subtexts.

  3. Stoneshop

    It would have been even better

    If that glue didn't want to stick on monitor screens.

    I will see the note just fine when attached to the bezel. Or, with the ever-shrinking bezels on flatscreens, on my keyboard. JUST NOT ON MY SCREEN, not-so-dear cow-orkers.

    One time at a computer fair there was a vendor selling "memory expansion for your monitor", a piece of whiteboard with a rectangular hole in the middle that your computer screen could poke through, plus a set of whiteboard markers. It could easily hold two dozen standard Post-Its.

    1. Antron Argaiv Silver badge

      Re: It would have been even better

      Reminds me of the old joke:

      Q: How do you know a blonde has been working on the computer?

      A: There's White-Out all over the screen.

  4. terry 1

    Piles of post it pads...

    Looking below my screen right now is a small pile of post it notes with DrayTek written on them. Each time I sell a router to a client I keep the pad :)

  5. Antron Argaiv Silver badge

    Should have worked for Xerox

    FTFA: "...spent the latter years of his career at 3M working on avoiding the mistakes that kept potentially useful inventions from being commercialized."

  6. Arthur the cat Silver badge

    Very useful chap with a very useful invention

    but he finally fell off the monitor.

  7. Blackjack Silver badge

    When Paul Dixon, the guy behind, dies will we miss him too?

  8. Ian Mason

    Yes, but what's his gravestone going to be?

    I dearly hope that he, or his remaining family have the wit to produce a memorial fitting to the co-inventor of the Post-It note.

    1. spireite Silver badge

      Re: Yes, but what's his gravestone going to be?

      Won't matter but you can keep peeling his epitaph off forever

  9. anothercynic Silver badge

    Clearly this is incorrect...

    Can't have been Spencer Silver! Romy White and Michele Weinberger invented the Post-It! Michele did the glue, Romy did the paper!

    Well... or at least so they claimed in "Romy and Michele's High School Reunion"! What a classic rom-com chick flick with a decent happy ending. :-D

    RIP Spencer.

  10. TangoDelta72

    No Romy and Michelle references?

  11. Daedalus

    Mixing and matching

    Apparently Fry heard of Silver's glue from a colleague at the company golf course, and knew him from a company bike club - based on a policy of getting different departments to mix their people.

    One wonders if that kind of enlightenment has survived the bean-counter blitz, or if it has gone the way of cheap company cafeterias, sports facilities and good parking. Many companies these days are so many silos in a desert, where the grinches hoard their shekels.

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