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Geek Scratch Paper: Historic Edition

An embossed sheet of my Geek Scratch Paper carried the valve knob sizes home from the garden, which prompted a comment from Mike about The Good Old Days in sunny California. Because I’ve disabled comments on old posts due to the spam load, here it is:

Ed has made references to his “geek scratch paper”… which brought back memories.

Gullivers Restaurant in Orange county, CA has been around since at least 1974. Back then they catered to the moderately expensive out-for-dinner crowd in the evenings and on the weekends, but during lunchtime they had a businessmans luncheon special in the main dining room that was oriented towards a decent meal and in-and-out-in-an-hour. The side rooms were for those that were doing longer lunches or business deals over lunch.

The key was that Gullivers was smack dab in the middle of Orange County’s tech region and right across the street from the large airport (now called John Wayne Airport). It’s also very close to Interstate 5, Interstate 405, and state highway 55… all 4-lane-each-direction major freeways.

During those lunch hours it was not unusual to see ID badges from over 20 companies in the main dining room. Several new products and at least one new company were formed over those lunches.

But the topic was “geek scratch paper”… well… Gullivers lunchtime paper placemats back in the 1970s were printed with graph paper on the back side!!!

Imagine: Geek scratch paper at every table provided by a thoughtful restaurant!!! And this was forty years ago!!!

I worked at one of the design houses in the area for over two years. I personally know of at least four new circuit designs, a half dozen new sheet metal designs, a number of circuit board re-designs, several new or modified software routines and at least six Product Change Notices and Engineering Change Orders that were started on the back of a Gullivers place mat (or three, or four…).

For a long time my resume had a bullet point that read “Able to convert lunchtime scratch paper engineering sketches into formal documentation and engineering change orders”.

I’ve not been inside Gullivers since 1981 – in over thirty years I’ve not been in that area except to drive on Interstate 5 on the way from Los Angeles to San Diego. The restaurant may be gone or remade itself into something else. But the next time I’m in that part of southern California I’ll make a special stop and check, and if their placemats still have graph paper on the back side, I’ll email you a photo or three.

On a different but similar topic… At one time the local ham radio club members used to choose which restaurant to migrate to after the monthly meetings by which ones had a blank back side on the place mats…. especially for the planning sessions prior to major events.

Mike WA6ILQ

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