Arthur Fry (born 1931) is a retired United States inventor and scientist. He is credited as the co-creator of the Post-it note, an item of office stationery manufactured by 3M. As of 2006, Post-it note products are sold in more than 100 countries.
Fry was born in Minnesota, and subsequently lived in Iowa and Kansas City. He received his early education in a one-room rural schoolhouse. During his childhood, he reputedly made his first foray into engineering by building toboggans from scrap lumber. He went on from those early efforts to study chemical engineering at the University of Minnesota.
In 1953, while still enrolled in undergraduate school, Fry took a job at 3M (then called Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Company) as a new product development researcher. He worked in new product development throughout his career at 3M until his retirement in the early 1990s.
The product for which he is best known, however, was born in the 1970s. Fry attended a seminar given by another 3M scientist, Spencer Silver, on a unique adhesive Silver had developed in 1968. Silver's innovation had an unusual molecular structure, yielding a glue strong enough to cling to objects but weak enough to allow for a temporary bond. At the time, Silver was still searching for a marketable use for his invention.
As the legend goes, Fry was in church when he came up with the perfect application. Fry sang in his church choir on weekends, and he used slips of paper to mark the pages of his hymnal. When the book was opened, however, the makeshift bookmarks often moved around or fell out altogether. On a Sunday in 1974, it occurred to him that Silver's adhesive could be put to use to create a better bookmark. If it could be coated on paper, Silver's adhesive would hold a bookmark in place without damaging the page on which it was placed.
The next day, Fry requested a sample of the adhesive. He began experimenting, coating only one edge of the paper so that the portion extending from a book would not be sticky. Fry used some of his experiments to write notes to his boss. This use led him to broaden his original idea into the concept that became the Post-it note.
It took a few years for the concept to come to fruition, due to both technical problems with production and management's doubts about the product's saleability. Post-it notes were released to the national market in 1980. In 1981, 3M named Post-it notes its Outstanding New Product. In 1980 and 1981, the Post-it note team received 3M's Golden Step Award, given to teams who create major new products that are significantly profitable. 3M named Fry a corporate researcher in 1986. He is also a member of 3M's Carlton Society and Circle of Technical Excellence.
Fry resides in Saint Paul, Minnesota.