What Is a U.S. ZIP Code Map?


Quick Answer

A ZIP code map is an area map of the United States outlined in zones representing their respective U.S. Postal Service ZIP code. The ZIP code is a non-repeating numeric system with nine digits used for identifying geographic regions and used by the USPS to locate addresses for mail delivery.

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Full Answer

ZIP codes were Zoning Improvement Codes until 1963 when Robert A. Moon, after a 20-year fight, got the three digit codes accepted as the standard for mail sorting and delivery. Other postal employees got two digits added to further refine delivery areas. The previous system was alphabetically based, slow, cumbersome and incapable of expanding to meet increased mailing demands. The numeric system was instituted at about the same time as the telephone companies were changing from alpha to numeric-based systems because of the growing amount of telephone users.

In 1983, the growing number of business uses expanded the ZIP code to nine digits. ZIP codes vastly increased the speed of mail delivery due to the amount of automation that could used for mail sorting. However, their biggest use may have been by marketing firms that developed demographic maps and databases by ZIP codes. They allow companies to sort potential customer by income, geographic region, political affiliation and many more criteria.

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