Sequence of Events

Sequence of events leading to the development of “Mr. ZIP” and application of ZIP Code.

By James F. Kelleher
October 31, 1962

1. In the spring of 1962, then Postmaster General Day and myself casually met, on a plane between Chicago and Washington, Mr. Frederick Kappel, Chairman of the Board of A.T. &T. Mr. Kappel and Mr. Day were previously acquainted in a business and social way. During our conversation, Mr. Kappel asked the Postmaster General if there was any way in which A.T. &T. could be of assistance to the Post Office Department.

Mr. Day pointed to their early cooperation with our NIMS Program and asked my view. At that time, I pointed out that in the years passed A.T. & T. , through its yellow pages, had been most cooperative with the Post office Department in promoting local zoning but as a result of the attitude and demands of the Summerfield Administration, A.T. & T. had — and quite properly had in my opinion—let its cooperation lag to nothing.

2. Mr. Kappel expressed interest and in a subsequent discussion said that he would “Suggest” that A.T. & T. people be in touch with us about a cooperative program.

3. As a result of this “suggestion” A.T. & T.’s top yellow pages representatives from New York and public relations people from Washington were in touch with this office within several days. They then want to work with Operations and over a period of several months developed a cooperative yellow pages promotion program on zoning. They were unware at this time (last summer of 1962) that the Department was approaching a decision on zoning and expansion of same to a nationwide code.

4. In their final presentation to the Bureau of Operation’s personnel, A.T. & T. representatives suggested as the symbol of this campaign the cartoon character now known as “Mr. ZIP”. At this point, representatives of this office were called into the discussion with Operations and the opinion was expressed from here that while the cartoon itself was useful and valuable, the name “Mr. P.O. Zone” was not effective nor desirable.

5. As a result of this meeting, the staff of this office discussed the name of the character at some length to seek primarily any change which would both characterize the figure and be easily memorable. The name changes discussed finally settled on “Zippy” which I later modified to “Mr. ZIP”.  The name was finally agreed upon by all present in the Post Office Department.

6. A.T. & T. at this time was then informed that we were accepting their program basically and the cartoon character but that we were changing his name to “Mr. ZIP”. The A.T. & T. representatives agreed. Thus while the cartoon character was developed by Cunningham & Walsh for A.T. & T., the name is a Post Office Department product.