Back to all articles

The History of Highlighters

The highlighter was invented in 1962 by Dr. Frank Horn, an employee at Carter’s Ink Company in Cambridge, England. His product was trademarked under the name HI-LITER and was originally only available in yellow. It’s thought that the inspiration for Horn’s invention came from Japanese inventor Yukio Horie’s felt tip pen, which he created for the Tokyo Stationery Company. In 1978, the California company Avery Dennison purchased the rights to the HI-LITER and introduced the product’s famously fluorescent colors. Special highlighters for marking Bible passages and dual highlighter pens both debuted in the 1980s, and in the 1990s, BIC began offering highlighters. In 2005, an employee at Sun Coast Merchandise named Dilip Bhavnani filed a patent for the first retractable highlighter. Also in 2005, Sharpie debuted their first line of highlighters. In 2012, a highlighter with ink that disappears after five months was introduced; it was aimed at college students who needed to mark up their textbooks to study but didn’t want to cause permanent damage. While highlighters have declined in popularity in the face of note-taking on laptops and tablets, they are still used for a variety of purposes, including studying for school, marking important information at work, doing craft projects, organizing schedules, and even studying the Bible.

Share this article

card showing the history of rocking chairs

Your go-to guide for weird history facts

Subscribe to the FREE daily email that makes learning about history fun.