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1960s / ZIP Codes Invented 1963
American postal addresses used to be the essence of simplicity: street address, city, and state. In 1946 numbers were added to the addresses of large cities to designate delivery zones. For example, an address might include 'Minneapolis 16, Minnesota'--meaning the mail was going to delivery zone #16 in that city. By the early 1960s a more general system was needed. On July 1, 1963 non-mandatory five-digit ZIP codes were announced for the whole country. ZIP is an acronym for 'Zone Improvement Plan.' The numerals in the ZIP codes progressively got larger as the addresses moved westward. ZIP codes became mandatory for second-class and third-class mail in 1967. Robert Moon, an employee of the post office, is considered the father of the ZIP code. He submitted his proposal in 1944 while working as a postal inspector. In 1983, large delivery centres had an additional four digits preceded by a hyphen added to their ZIP codes.