Early 1980s “Comp” Pocket Memo Notebooks

Here’s a notebook that I liked so much, I had to buy three of them.


I still love the concept of these: the look of a composition book in a different size. I’ve always loved the black and white patterned covers of the traditional composition book, but I have not usually wanted to use something that size. They make pocket size notebooks that look like composition books, but it always drove me crazy that they kept the same squarish format rather than the 3 x 5″ rectangle I preferred. (That didn’t stop me from buying a few, and in at least one case, I trimmed the cover and pages down to the appropriate golden rectangle proportions!)

So whoever came up with these (the brand is only identified as “A.D.I. Inc.”)was brilliant: the black and white pattern and the space for writing your name, but in a lovely 3 x 5″ spiral notebook.

The pattern carries over to the back cover too, which shows nice attention to detail. And on the back cover, you notice an interesting discrepancy: two of these were made in Taiwan, but one was made in Korea. The only differences between the Korean notebook and the others are that it has a metal spiral, and a slightly different color paper. The Taiwanese notebooks have plastic spirals that are doubled back into the same hole at each end to keep them from unraveling.


As with my other 1980s notebooks, I filled these with some notes for junior high school class work (some of which seems to be in someone else’s handwriting) as well as random doodling, including a pretty good copy of a character from the Tintin books and a not-very-good sketch of the cover of my favorite B-52s album at the time.

At this age, I remember wanting to fill the pages of notebooks but feeling like I didn’t know what to write– I rarely kept an actual diary or a real sketchbook, I just fiddled around and scribbled things like these. In some ways, I wish I’d written more details about my life at that time, but nevertheless, I find these old notebooks a lot of fun to flip through.

5 thoughts on “Early 1980s “Comp” Pocket Memo Notebooks”

  1. Yeah, I like the marbled look of these composition books as well, but never buy them b/c of the square-ish dimensions & the covers are too hard & stiff. And I’ve noticed they usually come with super cheap paper that yellows quickly.

    I never used to care about paper quality but now that “notebooking” has become a sort of real hobby for me, I’d like the notebooks to be in fairly good condition 20+ yrs from now.

  2. I used to use those for my diaries back in the late ’80s-early ’90s. They were bound with glue and tape, though, like regular composition books. I used to make collages and adapt things like greeting cards and seed packets for the covers and laminate them.

    Today, decorating mini composition books is now a popular craft and people can get really creative, some of these are just beautiful.

    I would advise everyone doing this to get the kind that have the pages sewn in (available at Office Depot (with their own fancy covers!) last time I looked, or look for the Carolina Pad brand).

    The covers I did have held up better than the books. The glue was very cheap and the books would fall apart on me, so I cleverly (I thought) rebound them with Pliobond and a bit of cheesecloth. Recently I took them out and went through them, and the Pliobond didn’t hold. Sigh.

  3. Looking for a walletsize booklet with alphabetize pages to record addresses, location, tel #.
    The one I did have once measured 3″ by 2″

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