Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Learning something new today

The history of the yellow legal pad.

In 1888, Thomas W. Holley, a 24-year-old paper mill worker in Holyoke, had an idea for how to use the paper scraps, known as sortings, discarded by the mill. . . . Holley's notion was to bind the scraps into pads that could be sold at a cut rate. Convinced he had a winning idea, he founded his own company to collect the sortings from local mills (Holyoke was then the papermaking capital of the world) and began churning out bargain-price pads.

The legal pad's margins, also called down lines, are drawn 1.25 inches from the left edge of the page. (This is the only requirement for a pad to qualify as a legal pad, though the iconic version has yellow paper, blue lines, and a red gummed top.) Holley added the ruling that defined the legal pad in the early 1900s at the request of a local judge who was looking for space to comment on his own notes.

(Via Boing Boing.)

Related contest: In the comments section, guess how many legal pads I currently have on or in my desk. Closest number without going over wins. (Possible prizes include a PH4H bumpersticker and a legal pad, or, if you're a member, 25 BlogExplosion credits.) Bonus points if you also guess how many are legal size (vs. letter size), and how many are actually yellow (instead of white).

Deadline is noon tomorrow.


Miss Scarlet said...


EC said...

Here is my guess...

12 legal pads
2 of them are letter size 10 of them are legal size
8 of them are yellow
4 of them are white

This was I love trying to picture other peoples lives :)

jason said...

9. All yellow. None more than 36% utilized.

Peter said...

11 total.
5 are yellow legal size.
4 are white letter size.
2 are yellow letter size.

Justin S. said...

I'm using the Price is Right strategy here, and trying not to go over.

One legal pad. White.

Ryane said...

oK. Given that I know you are anal about things being organized, I am going to say you have 8 legal pads, all yellow. Five of them are in your desk, three are on the desk...

Haha. I am probably completely wrong, but this Was fun!

DSL said...

I couldn't believe the level of excitement from others, so I thought I'd give it a try.

7 legal pads
6 legal size
4 yellow

Dara said...

Sadly, none of these are correct.

Erin is the closest -- she wins the BE credits.

I have 19 legal pads, and all but one are in the desk drawer. I have a notepad and post-it notes that I tend to use for smaller things.

The one on the desk is yellow, letter sized, and partially used, since I'm in the middle of a research project.

The ones in the desk are a mixture -- 7 yellow, and 11 white. Only 4 are legal sized, and of those, only one is white. And, while some might be missing a page or two, none are really what you'd call "used."

Generally, when I'm finished using a legal pad, I take the pages out, staple them, and put them in the file that they are associated with. Occasionally, I put a whole pad in the file.

And Debby, like you, I am surprised at the level of excitement. But I am really glad that people played!