Standard Cocktail Napkin Size [WAS: RE: history is hard (was: Microsoft open sources GWBASIC)}

Tom Gardner t.gardner at
Mon May 25 13:27:06 CDT 2020

On Sunday, May 24, 2020 11:23 AM Fred Cisin via cctalk wrote in part:
>> On Sun, 24 May 2020, Tom Gardner via cctalk wrote:
>>The final media size was determined by Shugart Engineering led by Al 
>> Chou from the size of the 8-track tape drive that the 5¼-inch FDD was 
>> to replace in Wang and other systems.  As near as I can tell it was 
>> not the same size as a “standard” cocktail napkin.

>"I believe in standards.  Everyone should have [a unique] one [of their
own]." - George Morrow I have seen napkins that are about 5.25".

I did attempt to see if there is a "standard" cocktail napkin size and as
best I can tell it is today 5-inches square not 5¼-inches square.

A friend who is a veteran of the paper products industry provided me an
actual cocktail napkin circa 1980 (a promotional give away for his business)
that he recalls was procured to the then standard size which I measured as
5-inches square.  Apparently cocktail napkins have not deflated over the
intervening 40 years :-)

This supports Adkisson's recollection that the customer wanted something
about the size of a cocktail napkin and Chou's description of the
development process that tried to maximize the size of the disk that could
be received in a drive which in turn was designed to fit into the then
existing 8-track tape drive slot.


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