Last updated on April 17, 2014 at 8:45 EDT


The Post-it note is a piece of stationery designed for temporarily attaching notes to documents and other surfaces through the use of a strip of adhesive on the back. They are most commonly seen in a 3-inch square and yellow in color although they can come in a variety of shapes, colors, and sizes. A low-tack adhesive allows the notes to be stuck and removed quickly with no residue left behind.

Art Fry, of 3M, created the post-it note by using an adhesive developed by a colleague. 3M was the only producer until 1990 when the patent expired and other companies started producing the notes. Other companies producing the notes lead to the generic terms “sticky notes” and “re-positionable notes”.

Dr. Spencer Silver created a “low-tack” adhesive in 1968. He tried to promote the adhesive within 3M but was met with little success. Art Fry came up with the idea to use Silver’s adhesive to keep his bookmark anchored in his hymnbook. In 1977 3M launched the product which failed. After offering samples a year later, 90 percent of people said they would buy the product; by 1980 the product was being sold nationwide. 3M came out with stronger glue in 2003 that stuck better to vertical and non-smooth surfaces.

The standard post it only has adhesive coating along one edge on the back although there are some products that have full adhesive coating on the back that are used for special purposes. The yellow color was only chosen because the lab next to the Post-it door had a scrap of yellow paper which the team used.

Many people have utilized Post-it notes in art projects. One piece of Post-it art sold for $1,000, making it the most valuable Post-it note on record. The notes are also used by film producers to lay out scenes since they provide an easy way of storyboarding a project on the go.

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