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Post-it note


Post-it note

Post-it note
A small pad of original style lined yellow Post-it Brand notes
Product type Stationery, paper
Owner 3M
Country Cynthiana, Kentucky, U.S.
Introduced 1977

A Post-it note (or sticky note) is a small piece of paper with a re-adherable strip of glue on its back, made for temporarily attaching notes to documents and other surfaces. A unique low-tack pressure-sensitive adhesive allows the notes to be easily attached, removed and even re-posted elsewhere without leaving residue. Originally small yellow squares, Post-it notes and related products are now available in a wide range of colors, shapes and sizes.

Although 3M's patent ran out in 1997, "Post-it" and the original notes' distinctive yellow color remain registered company trademarks, with terms such as "repositionable notes" used for similar offerings manufactured by competitors. Despite this, the name has become genericized for all such products in many countries.


  • History 1
  • In art 2
  • In technology 3
  • Controversies 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6


Arthur Fry with a Post-it note on forehead

In 1968, a scientist at 3M in the United States, Dr. Spencer Silver, was attempting to develop a super-strong adhesive. Instead he accidentally created a "low-tack", reusable, pressure-sensitive adhesive.[1][2][3] For five years, Silver promoted his "solution without a problem" within 3M both informally and through seminars but failed to gain acceptance. In 1974 a colleague who had attended one of his seminars, Art Fry, came up with the idea of using the adhesive to anchor his bookmark in his hymnbook.[4][5] Fry then utilized 3M's officially sanctioned "permitted bootlegging" policy to develop the idea.[5] The original notes' yellow color was chosen by accident, as the lab next-door to the Post-it team had only yellow scrap paper to use.[6]

3M launched the product as "Press 'n Peel" in stores in four cities in 1977, but results were disappointing.[7][8] A year later 3M instead issued free samples directly to consumers in Boise, Idaho, with 94 percent of those who tried them indicating they would buy the product.[7] On April 6, 1980, "Press 'n Peel" was re-introduced in US stores as "Post-It Notes".[9] The following year they were launched in Canada and Europe.[10]

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.[11]

Until 3M's patent expired in the 1990s, post-it type notes were produced only in the company's plant in Cynthiana, Kentucky.

In art

Post-it notes used to make a mosaic
Occupy movement Post-its at the Paradeplatz in Zürich

"The Yellow Stickee Diary of a Mad Secretary", by Rosa Maria Arenas, is the mini graphic journal of an office worker/artist, exhibited July 7 - August 25, 2013, at the Michigan Institute of Contemporary Art (MICA) Gallery in Lansing, Michigan. The 41 drawings displayed are a tiny percentage of the more than 2000 original drawings that constitute the Yellow Stickee Diary Project which Arenas created while working temp jobs from 1994 to 2005. Printed with archival inks on archival paper, the reproductions include "stickee sized" (3" × 5") framed prints and enlargements of the original drawings (which were all done on post-it notes).[12]

In 2012, Turkish artist Ardan Özmenoglu was selected to have a solo exhibition at Bertrand Delacroix Gallery in the art district of Chelsea, Manhattan. The exhibition, titled "E Pluribus Unum" (Latin for "Out of many, one"), opened November 15, 2012 and featured large scale works on Post-it notes.[13]

In 2004, Paola Antonelli, a curator of architecture and design, included Post-it notes in a show entitled "Humble Masterpieces".

Rebecca Murtaugh, a California artist who uses Post-it notes in her artwork, in 2001 created an installation by covering her whole bedroom with $1000 worth of the notes, using the ordinary yellow for objects she saw as having less value and neon colors for more important objects, such as the bed.[11]

In 2000 the 20th anniversary of Post-it notes was celebrated by having artists create artworks on the notes. One such work, by the artist R. B. Kitaj, sold for £640 in an auction, making it the most valuable Post-it note on record.[14][14][15]

The Lennon Wall, a message board created during the 2014 Hong Kong protests from a stretch of curved staircase in the Central Government Complex, is covered in multi-coloured Post-It notes with handwritten messages from supporters.[16]

In technology

Virtual Post-it notes have been created for computer in the form of desktop notes. These include 3M's own "Post-it Brand Software Notes", "Stickies" in Mac OS, "Sticky Notes" in Windows,[17] or other for-fee applications like ShixxNOTE.[18]


In December 2010, Gabe Okoye and Brittany Mayti lost US$800,000 on the TV show Million Dollar Money Drop over a question about Post-it notes. The question concerned which product — the Apple Macintosh, Post-it notes, or the Sony Walkman — was first sold in stores. The couple placed $800,000 on Post-it notes, and lost the money. According to the show, Post-it notes were first sold in 1980, after the first sales of the Walkman in 1979. Backlash from the online community forced the show's executive producer to issue two statements, the first of which stood by the Walkman answer, and the second admitting that the show's researchers had received "incomplete" information from 3M. Further investigation had revealed that "the product was originally tested for sale in four cities under the name 'Press 'N Peel' in 1977, sold as 'Post-its' in 1979 when the rollout introduction began and sold nationwide in 1980". The couple was invited to play on the show again, but the show's second season was canceled.[19]


  1. ^ "Post-it® Brand". 
  2. ^ Donnelly, Tim (23 August 2012). "9 Brilliant Inventions Made by Mistake". Inc. Retrieved 24 August 2012. 
  3. ^ "About Post-it® Brand". Retrieved 2013-02-12. The Post-it® Note was invented as a solution without a problem: Dr. Spencer Silver developed a special, repositionable adhesive, but the 3M scientist didn't know what to do with his discovery. 
  4. ^ "Inventor of the Week: Art Fry and Spencer Silver".  
  5. ^ a b  
  6. ^ "Why Are Post-it Notes Yellow?". Retrieved 2010-02-25. 
  7. ^ a b Art Fry and Spencer Silver. "'"First Person: 'We invented the Post-it Note. FT Magazine. Retrieved 2010-12-20. 
  8. ^ "TV News Headlines - Yahoo TV". Yahoo TV. 
  9. ^ "Spencer Silver". Retrieved 2010-12-24. 
  10. ^ "The Evolution of the Post-it Note". 3M. Retrieved 2010-02-13. 
  11. ^ a b Green, Penelope (2007-07-03). "The all-purpose note that stuck". International Herald Tribune. 
  12. ^ "MICA Gallery". 
  13. ^ "Ardan Ozmenoglu "E PLURIBUS UNUM": Nov 15 – Dec 15". Retrieved 26 October 2012. 
  14. ^ a b "Post-it Note raises £640".  
  15. ^ "Post-it artists". 
  16. ^
  17. ^ "'"Windows 7 Features 'Sticky Notes. Retrieved 2010-12-25. 
  18. ^ "ShixxNOTE network enabled sticky notes program". Retrieved 2012-02-23. 
  19. ^ "Right on the $800,000 Question, They Lost Anyway". Retrieved 2015-09-21. 

External links

  • U.S. Patent 3,691,140Acrylate-copolymer microspheres [adhesive formula]
  • U.S. Patent 5,194,299Repositionable Pressure-Sensitive Adhesive Sheet Material [sheet material]
  • Post-it homepage
  • BBC news article on 20th anniversary of Post-it notes
  • magazine article on 25th anniversary of Post-it notesThe Rake
  • Post-it Note History—The history of the Post-it note according to 3M
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