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Mail picked up at post offices is sent to their own SCF in the afternoon, where the mail is sorted overnight.
In the case of large cities, the last two digits coincide with the older postal zone number In 1967, these became mandatory for second- and third-class bulk mailers, and the system was soon adopted generally.
Herb Klein, special assistant to President Nixon, responded by saying the next printing of envelopes would include the ZIP Code. A ZIP 4 Code uses the basic five-digit code plus four additional digits to identify a geographic segment within the five-digit delivery area, such as a city block, a group of apartments, an individual high-volume receiver of mail, a post office box, or any other unit that could use an extra identifier to aid in efficient mail sorting and delivery.
However, initial attempts to promote universal use of the new format met with public resistance and today the plus-four code is not required.
The United States Post Office used a cartoon character, which it called Mr. He was often depicted with a legend such as "USE ZIP CODE" in the selvage of panes of postage stamps or on the covers of booklet panes of stamps.
In 1971 Elmira (NY) Star-Gazette reporter Dick Baumbach found out the White House was not using a ZIP Code on its envelopes. Postal Service introduced an expanded ZIP Code system that it called ZIP 4, often called "plus-four codes", "add-on codes", or "add-ons".
In general, mail is read by a multiline optical character reader (MLOCR) that almost instantly determines the correct ZIP 4 Code from the address—along with the even more specific delivery point—and sprays an Intelligent Mail barcode (IM) on the face of the mail piece that corresponds to 11 digits—nine for the ZIP 4 Code and two for the delivery point.
PO Box 107050, Albany, NY 12201-7050), zero plus the last three digits of the box number (e.g., PO Box 17727, Eagle River, AK 99577-0727), or, if the box number consists of fewer than four digits, enough zeros are attached to the front of the box number to produce a four-digit number (e.g., PO Box 77, Juneau, AK 99750-0077).
The fourth and fifth digits, which give a more precise locale within the SCF, were proposed by Henry Bentley Hahn Sr.
The SCF sorts mail to all post offices with those first three digits in their ZIP Codes.
The USPOD issued its Publication 59: Abbreviations for Use with ZIP Code on October 1, 1963, with the list of two-letter state abbreviations which are generally written with both letters capitalized.
According to Publication 59, the two-letter standard was "based on a maximum 23-position line, because this has been found to be the most universally acceptable line capacity basis for major addressing systems", which would be exceeded by a long city name combined with a multi-letter state abbreviation, such as "Sacramento, Calif." along with the ZIP Code.This means that every single mailable point in the country has its own 12-digit number (in theory).