SparkNotes, originally part of a website called The Spark, is a company started by Harvard students Sam Yagan, Max Krohn, Chris Coyne, and Eli Bolotin in 1999 that originally provided study guides for literature, poetry, history, film, and philosophy. Later, SparkNotes expanded to provide study guides for a number of other subjects, including math, health, physics, biology, chemistry, economics and sociology. SparkNotes does not charge users, but instead uses advertising for revenue. Barnes acquired SparkNotes.com in 2001 for approx. $3,555,000. TheSpark.com was a literary website launched by four Harvard students on January 7, 1999. Most of The Spark's users were high school and college students. To increase the site's popularity, the creators published the first six literature study guides (called "SparkNotes") on April 7, 1999.
Contributions by Puchiko, OKBot, and Sighrik.