History of Sharpies

They mark, they stain, they come in over three dozen different colors and chances are there is at least one in every desk on campus. They are Sharpie markers.

The Sharpie marker was first introduced in 1964 as the first ever permanent marker that writes like a pen, according to the Sharpie Web site. Sanford, the ink company that manufactures Sharpies, created a new ink that could write on almost any surface such as glass, metal, wood and paper. The Web site states that, if stored in the proper conditions, Sharpie ink can last for years.

Sharpies only came in black, until the addition of the colors brown, green, and blue in 1979. Standard black has remained the best selling color, according to Sharpie. Sharpies now come in 39 different colors, such as “pumpkin” and “boysenberry.”

Sharpie markers’ powerful smell is caused by the alcohols necessary to create a permanent ink, according to the Sharpie Web site.

Some UW-Eau Claire students believe the strong odor of Sharpies is harmless. Freshman Missy Meyer said she thinks that Sharpies’ smell is only dangerous if you intentionally inhale it.

“If you’re sitting there sniffing (the Sharpie markers) for the purpose of smelling them (it’s dangerous),” Meyer said.

However, the official Sharpie website warns the public that the Sharpie Industrial – the most popular type of Sharpie – can cause damage if eaten. If a person inhales the fumes of the permanent marker, they should move to fresh air.

Sharpies now come in a variety of styles, such as paint markers, retractable markers and markers especially designed for labeling CDs and DVDs. On its Web site, Sharpie even offers personalization with words, phrases and clip art, according to Web site.

Freshman Beth Seal said she likes the Sharpie retractable markers.

“When you hold them down and let them go they fly up in the air,” Seal said.

Sharpies are also popular with the President of the United States, according to the Sharpie Web site. George W. Bush is fiercely loyal to the Sharpie brand, often demanding them, the site states.

Over 200 million Sharpie markers were produced by the end of 2002, according to the Sharpie Web site. This adds up to nearly two Sharpies for every American household.