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Millions from the Mind

Book Reviews

What if You Could Make Money Forever?

The Wall Street Journal, Monday, August 3, 1992

By Stanley W. Angrist

When Art Fry, the senior new-products-development person at 3M Co. and the godfather of Post-it Notes, asked the market research people of his company to estimate just what the total market for the notes might be, they came back with an estimate of between one-half and three-quarters of a million dollars annually.

That's hardly a market worth entering for a multibillion-dollar sales company. But Mr. Fry didn't pay any attention to that forecast and distributed his little yellow notes all over the 3M offices to see how people would use them. He found that the lab people at 3M used them more than Scotch Tape---the largest single selling product in the company. Armed with this information, he was able to persuade 3M's management to test-market the notes. The rest is history.

The story of Post-it and the history of scores of other new products can be found in Alan Tripp's book "Millions from the Mind." Mr. Tripp describes how ideas get turned into bucks by, among other things, pointing out both the weakness and strengths in patents, copyrights, and trademarks. People who have come up with something new and want to try to capitalize on it will learn much from this book and its many heroes--Harvey Phipard, for instance, who invented an improved sheet metal screw in 1960.

Mr. Phipard said he came up with the idea at home and argued it was his when company officials tried to shame him into giving up his rights for $5,000. He then told his boss what lots of inventors would like to, but few have the nerve to. He said, "I won't do that because I don't know if it's worth that much and that would be unfair to the company. Or maybe it's wort a lot more. And that wouldn't be fair to me. I don't want to give it up." And he didn't. He showed them. He sued the company and finally, after years, ended up with a share of the royalties.

Above is a review of the original book with the stories of over 50 inventors. The second edition lists 115 inventors in it's inventor index and 126 inventions. The original book's format was 6" x 9" with 302 pages. The revised book is 320 pages in 8.5" x 11" format. The original had an 8 page photo insert while the new one has 266 illustrations. The original had 12 pages of index while the new one has 46. Listed to the right are links to the reviews we know about--if you know of another one please let us know at E-mail address image, click to e-mail or type in your e-mail program's 'To:' field. Thank you.

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