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