Yum Yum Dining Guide
Introduction - Table of Contents - Highlights

Before there was Zagat, before there was Yahoo, before there was Google, before there was Wiki, there was Yum Yum.

Yum Yum was the very first collaborative internet based dining guide. It was maintained at the Stanford Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (SAIL) which had bucolic digs on Page Mill Road in Palo Alto, California. The lab was noted for its volley ball games and its love of food, particularly of the Chinese variety. The vending machine, The Prancing Pony, named for the inn in Tolkien's Middle Earth books, was possible the first to sell pan fried Peking ravioli.

The guide was maintained as a PUB file on the Stanford AI PDP-10 and was accessible from anywhere on the Internet, which meant that it had thousands of potential readers. It was also published in a printed form as sort of an early Zagat like guide. As the preface explains:

This edition of Yumyum lists 480 restaurants of the San Francisco Bay area and some outlying places together with 1056 opinions from our readers. Many conflict with one another. Rather than attempting to form a "concensus", we let them tell it their way. Of course, different people are looking for different things and restaurants change with the passage of time and chefs.

The symbol Good Restaurant Symbol marks the restaurants that the editors believe are outstanding <i>in their class</i> (combination of cuisine and price). Other places may be just as outstanding but have not been reviewed sufficiently.

With a little experience, you can begin to evaluate the evaluators and draw more reliable conclusions from the opinions given here. We are dependent upon you to provide timely updates and information on interesting new restaurants. When preparing remarks for this guide, please try to express your views concisely and accurately and for new restaurants be sure to get the accurate name, address, phone, hours, etc.

This guide is organized by geographical regions and types of cuisine. The coverage falls off approximately with the square of the distance from our laboratory. It is produced using the PUB document compiler in both a printed version and as a computer file (YUMYUM [P,DOC] @SU-AI).

Patte Wood & Les Earnest, Editors

The Yum Yum dining guide was a true internet collaboration, and it provided many a hacker with an excellent meal. You could download it, run it through PUB and print it on your local experimental black and white Xerox laser printer, or you could grab a printed copy. It was based on user provided reviews, and expected users to learn the tastes and reputations of other reviewers, much as one does with the book reviews and reviewers on Amazon today. Given the relative paucity of reviews, it is not surprising that there was no attempt at averaging or forming a concensus.

Even now, someone, somewhere is filing a patent for this kind of food guide and rating system, so it may well serve as prior art.

This document is interesting both from a history of computing point of view, as well as a history of food point of view. Food in the United States was quite a bit different back then in the late 1970s. Alice Waters had a place out in Berkeley, and Chinese restaurants were breaking out of the moo goo gai pan mold. You could still find a Scandanavian smorgasbord and there were way too many soup and salad bars. It is unlikely that a serious foodie will be tempted by the restaurants within.

Still, it is interesting to see what has changed and what has survived. Click here to begin.

This 1976 Yum Yum Dining Guide is from the Kaleberg Symbiont Archives.
If you know that something in this description is bogus, please send mail to the Kale.

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