St. Paul’s Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Company, better known to the world as 3M, is as pleasant a place to work as any in the land. I know: My first job was as a tape cutter there. Employees enjoy first-class working conditions, good salaries, and stock options. Tartan Park, a 483-acre complex for 3M workers, offers an 18-hole golf course, tennis, skiing, and a luxury dining Room rivaling that of any country club. Dues: Three dollars a year. At 3M’s sprawling, tree-shaded “main campus” on St. Paul’s eastern outskirts, a relaxed atmosphere belies a hard-driving, successful company. Incorporated in 1902 to mine corundum in northern Minnesota, 3M lost money on an inferior lode, and then began making sandpaper in Duluth. In those dark early days, so the story goes, 3M stock was selling two shares for one shot of cheap whiskey. Not until 1916, after moving to St. Paul and perfecting quality control, did 3M’s sandpaper finally pay a dividend. Having mastered the art of paper coating, the firm began to apply adhesive to paper and cellophane. The result: Scotch brand tape. It was a logical step to magnetic tapes and cassettes. Today 3M sells floor tiles, bandages, brass polish, fishing line, copying machines, stethoscopes, scouring pads�thousands of different products. Its 88,000 people in 200 plants in the U. S. and abroad turn out six billion dollars’ worth a year. The core of 3M is its staff of 6,000 scientists and engineers. And they are given plenty of elbowroom. “We have an average of one day a week to work on our own ideas,” said Arthur Fry, product development specialist in the Commercial Tape Laboratory. “Often the Apartments in Amsterdam pay off.” A regular in his church choir, Fry was annoyed when he sometimes lost his place in the hymnbook. So he experimented with a releasable adhesive to create a bookmark that would not slip but could be easily removed. Thus began a whole new line of Post-it notepads that turn any surface into an instant bulletin board. Years ago Philip Palmquist, technical director of special enterprises, found that microscopic glass beads were no good for sandpaper. But he was fascinated by their reflective properties. Working in his spare time, he helped create a coating that reflects a hundred times more light than a plain white surface: the now familiar Scotchlite of license plates and road signs. “That was just the beginning,” Phil said, as he showed me around his lab. “We discovered that by adding aluminum backing we could boost reflectivity 1,500 times�ideal for large, projection-type screens.” The movie industry used Palmquist’s screens for dramatic special effects in 2001 and Star Wars. Back in his office, bedecked with many awards, he showed me a favorite: the Oscar that Hollywood bestowed on him for technical achievement. Playing a major role in the Twin Cities trend toward science-oriented industry is the University of Minnesota’s Institute of Technology. Its programs�control systems, cryogenics, heat transfer, biomedical engineering, microelectronics�are all pioneers in their fields.