As the story goes, in 1888, long before the days of recycling, paper mills used to discard the scraps and sortings that were trimmed away from other print jobs. An industrious entrepreneur, 24-year-old Thomas Holley, worked at the mill and envisioned a use for what was currently going to waste. He founded his own company to pad the scraps and sell them at a discounted price.
A local judge asked that the original margin be added, and thus the name legal pad was born. The only official requirement to be considered a legal pad is the left margin (called the down line) to be drawn 1.25 inches from the left edge of the paper.
There is no known reason for how the standard pads became most popular in yellow, but the canary versions outsell their white counterparts by 2 to 1. Most "legal" pads today are actually made in the 8-1/2 x 11 standard size and legal size documents have been prohibited in federal courts since 1982 due to the additional storage costs for them.
Holley took something that was considered useless and turned it into an icon. What is around you that has value that others can't see? Is there something your organization throws away (or gives away) that actually could become productive in another way? Try to take a fresh look at your by-products and see if they can't take on a life of their own.
-- beth triplett
Source: Old Yeller: The illustrious history of the yellow legal pad by Suzanne Snider in Legal Affairs, May-June 2005. http:www.legalaffairs.org/issues/May-June-2005