"Mr. ZIP Codes": Robert Aurand Moon, Inventor of the Zoning
Improvement Plan (ZIP) Codes
The Zoning Improvement Plan (ZIP) Codes were invented by Robert Aurand
Moon in the 1950’s although they didn’t come into use by the
Post Office until 1963. As the Father of ZIP Codes, Moon was also known
as “Mr. ZIP Code.”
Moon, born on April 15, 1917 in Williamsport, PA, was the United States
director of mail delivery services for seven years. He started working
for the post office in the 1940s as a postal inspector in Philadelphia
According to his wife of over 50 years, Barbara Moon, this was the period
when he began working on his idea of a Zoning Improvement Plan (ZIP),
and the invention of ZIP Codes.
Moon originally invented a three-digit code system that he believed was
necessary for the post office to keep up with the mail volume after WWII.
This system was later expanded into the ZIP Code system put into use in
1963. Moon’s numerical system was designed from the outset for mechanical
“Mr. ZIP Code” retired from his position in 1965. Moon returned
to work as the Director of Delivery Services in Washington, DC in 1970.
He retired from that post in 1977 and moved to Zellwood, FL with his wife.
“Mr. ZIP Code” was an active volunteer while in Florida, participating
in Meals on Wheels in Orange County, the Zellwood Methodist Church and
“Mr. ZIP Code” died on April 10, 2001 at 83 years of age at
the Leesburg Nursing Center in Leesburg, FL. His ZIP Code at the time
of his death: 34748.
Mr. Zip: ZIP Codes Ambassador
When the ZIP Code system was first introduced to the public in 1963, the
post office had a hard time convincing millions of letter writers to
add the unfamiliar extra numbers to each address.
Public resistance might
have foiled the ZIP Code system were it not for
Mr. Zip – the cute and efficient-looking ambassador of the new system.
According to USPO FAQ’s, “the character Mr. Zip was designed
to promote adoption of the new ZIP Code”.
This friendly little salesman in blue was embraced by the public and did
an amazing job of making ZIP Code usage commonplace. Mr. Zip’s theme
song was “Zip-a-dee-doo-dah” sung by Ethel Merman. He appeared
on several stamps, stamp selvage and post office publicity items from
1964 to 1986.
After the introduction of Mr. Zip presenting his plea to use ZIP
codes on all correspondence, the public embraced the new system. Today,
is more than 95% compliance with the ZIP Code program.
In 1986, Mr. Zip was retired by the post office. The new nine-digit Zip
+ 4 Code had been developed, and the Post Office felt that their little
ambassador had become “an anachronism” that needed to be put