The Zip Code has turned 50.  It seems like it has been around longer than that.  It is obvious today to have numerical identifiers for zones in which the mail is delivered.  It wasn’t apparent  in 1963.  The US Postal Service would have drowned in mail had it not been instituted. Today, of course, mail volume continues to shrink, but the Zip Code has taken a life of its own.  Its districts are used to profile residents by demographics.  Zip+4 even allows marketers to determine which side of a street or specific building to target.  It is easy to do research by Zip.  In other words, this one change of putting five numbers on an envelope restructured the way that advertisers and others operate.  Who would have thought that when it was started?  Perhaps a far-seeing postal employee or two.  Even as the post office subsides in significance, the Zip Code will remain as an essential identifier.

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