Monday, July 1, 2013
July 1 - ZIP Code
50 years ago: On July 1, 1963, the United States Postal Service launched its ZIP code system for all U.S. mail. It was non-mandatory at first. Two-letter state abbreviations (in capital letters) were introduced at the same time. “ZIP” is an acronym for Zone Improvement Plan, chosen to indicate that mail would travel faster and more efficiently with the use of five-digit codes. The system was also partly designed to accommodate magazine mailing labels. A three-digit ZIP code had been proposed in the 1940s by a postal employee, Robert Moon, and the old U.S. Post Office had used two-digit zone codes for large cities since 1944. But by the early 1960s an expanded, automated system was needed to deal with suburbanization and increasing onslaughts of mail. The USPS launched a broad marketing program with the friendly “Mr. Zip” icon based partly on concerns that Americans were being asked to memorize more numbers (including longer phone numbers) than ever before. Today the U.S. has more than 42,000 ZIP Codes for dwindling mail volumes.