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The History of Post-It Notes

Post-it note is a piece of stationery with a re-adherable strip of adhesive on the back, designed for temporarily attaching notes to documents and to other surfaces: walls, desks, computer displays, and so forth. While now available in a wide range of colors, shapes, and sizes, Post-it Brand notes are most commonly a 3-inch (76 mm) square, canary yellow in color. The notes use a unique low-tack adhesive that enables Post-it Brand notes to be easily attached and removed without leaving marks or residue, unless used on white boards.

It was invented by 3M's Art Fry using an adhesive developed by a colleague, Spencer Silver. Until the 1990s, when the patent expired, Post-it Brand notes were only produced in the 3M plant in Cynthiana, Kentucky. Although other companies now produce sticky or repositionable notes, most of the world's Post-it Brand notes are still made in Cynthiana.

A small pad of Post-It Brand notes.

The term "Post-it" and the canary yellow color are trademarks of 3M. Accepted generic terms for competitors include "sticky notes", "repositionable notes", and "repositional notes." 3M manufactures other products related to the Post-it Brand note concept, leveraging the success of the brand. Computerized versions of Post-it Brand notes include 3M's own "Post-it Brand Software Notes," and Apple's "Stickies".





In 1968, Dr. Spencer Silver, a scientist at 3M in the United States, with the help of Jesse Kops, a fellow scientist, accidentally developed a "low-tack", reusable pressure sensitive adhesive. For five years, Silver promoted his invention within 3M, both informally and through seminars, but without much success. In 1974, a colleague of his, Art Fry, who had attended one of Silver's seminars, came up with the idea of using the adhesive to anchor his bookmark in his hymnbook. Fry then developed the idea by taking advantage of 3M's officially sanctioned "permitted bootlegging policy. 3M launched the product in 1977, but it failed as consumers had not tried the product. A year later 3M issued free samples to residents of Boise, Idaho, United States. 90 percent of people who tried them said that they would buy the product. By 1980, the product was being sold nationwide in the US; a year later Post-its were launched in Canada and Europe.

In 2003, the company came out with Post-it Brand Super Sticky notes, with a stronger glue that adheres better to vertical and non-smooth surfaces.

Standard Post-it Brand notes have only partial adhesive coating on the back, along one edge. Similar products are used for specialized purposes with full adhesive coating; the US Post Office uses such yellow address labels to forward mail.



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