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 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 available in various colors, shapes, sizes and adhesive strengths. As of 2019, there are at least 26 documented colors of Post-it Notes.
Although 3M's patent expired 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. While use of the trademark 'Post-it' in a representative sense refers to any sticky note, no legal authority has ever held the trademark to be generic.
In 1968, Dr. Spencer Silver, a scientist at 3M in the United States, attempted to develop a super-strong adhesive. Instead, he accidentally created a "low-tack", reusable, pressure-sensitive adhesive. For five years, Silver promoted his "solution without a problem" within 3M both informally and through seminars, but failed to gain "adherents". 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 hymn book. Fry then utilized 3M's sanctioned "permitted bootlegging" policy to develop the idea. The original notes' pale yellow color was chosen by chance, from the color of the scrap paper used by the lab next door to the Post-It team.
The adhesive side of a Post-it Note, magnified 555 times on a scanning electron microscope
3M test marketed the product as "Press 'n Peel" bookmark in stores in four cities in 1977, but results were disappointing. A year later, 3M gave free samples to consumers in Boise, Idaho, with 94 percent of those who tried them indicating they would buy the product. The product was sold as "Post-Its" at its 1979 introduction, and was rolled out across the United States from April 6, 1980. The following year, they were launched in Canada and Europe.
In 2003, the company introduced "Post-it Brand Super Sticky Notes", with a stronger glue that adheres better to vertical and non-smooth surfaces.
Until 3M's patent expired in the 1990s, Post-it type notes were produced only in the company's plant in Cynthiana, Kentucky.
In 2018, 3M launched "Post-It Extreme Notes", which are more durable and water-resistant and which stick to wood and other materials in industrial environments
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