from the past

Watch: A brief history of the PIN Code, which ensures what you bought online is delivered

How six digits eliminated confusion over similar names, incorrect spelling, and different languages.

On April 1, 1774, India got its three first postal circles: Bengal, Bombay and Madras. As the date suggests, this was one of first things that the British did once they began to colonise the country.

While Bengal catered to the whole of the eastern and northern regions of British Empire, Madras handled the southern region and Bombay, the rest.

Cut to Independent India. There were now eight Postal Circles: Assam, Bengal, Bihar and Orissa, Bombay, Central, East Punjab, Madras and Uttar Pradesh. But even so, there was confusion over the destination of a letter, given spelling mistakes, places with similar-sounding names, and so on.

It was to streamline the flow of the enormous quantity of mail whizzing around the country that the Postal Index Number – aka PIN Code – system to identify every single post-office in the country with a unique number was introduced on August 15, 1972.

The first digit in the six-digit number indicated the region. The second identifies the sltate or union territory, the third and fourth zoom in on the mail-sorting district within each state, and the fifth and sixth identify the specific post-office whose jurisdiction the address falls under.

The first modern postal codes were introduced in 1932 in Ukraine, which was then under the Soviet Union, only to be abandoned in 1939. It was slowly adopted in the United Kingdom under the name of “postcode” and in the US, as the “zip code”.

While email and other forms of digital communication has cut the number of letters written and posted, e-commerce and home-delivery of purchased products has ensured that the PIN Code remains as important as ever.

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Watch Ruchir's journey: A story that captures the impact of accessible technology

Accessible technology has the potential to change lives.

“Technology can be a great leveller”, affirms Ruchir Falodia, Social Media Manager, TATA CLiQ. Out of the many qualities that define Ruchir as a person, one that stands out is that he is an autodidact – a self-taught coder and lover of technology.

Ruchir’s story is one that humanises technology - it has always played the role of a supportive friend who would look beyond his visual impairment. A top ranker through school and college, Ruchir would scan course books and convert them to a format which could be read out to him (in the absence of e-books for school). He also developed a lot of his work ethos on the philosophy of Open Source software, having contributed to various open source projects. The access provided by Open Source, where users could take a source code, modify it and distribute their own versions of the program, attracted him because of the even footing it gave everyone.

That is why I like being in programming. Nobody cares if you are in a wheelchair. Whatever be your physical disability, you are equal with every other developer. If your code works, good. If it doesn’t, you’ll be told so.

— Ruchir.

Motivated by the objectivity that technology provided, Ruchir made it his career. Despite having earned degree in computer engineering and an MBA, friends and family feared his visual impairment would prove difficult to overcome in a work setting. But Ruchir, who doesn’t like quotas or the ‘special’ tag he is often labelled with, used technology to prove that differently abled persons can work on an equal footing.

As he delved deeper into the tech space, Ruchir realised that he sought to explore the human side of technology. A fan of Agatha Christie and other crime novels, he wanted to express himself through storytelling and steered his career towards branding and marketing – which he sees as another way to tell stories.

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It was important for Ruchir to get rid of the sympathetic lens through which others saw him. His story serves as a message of reassurance to other differently abled persons and abolishes some of the fears, doubts and prejudices present in families, friends, employers or colleagues.

To know more about Ruchir’s journey, see here.

This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Uber and not by the Scroll editorial team.