Significant Years in U.S. Postal History

1639 Richard Fairbanks’ tavern in Boston named repository for overseas mail

1775 Benjamin Franklin was appointed first Postmaster General under Continental Congress

1777 Continental Congress authorized appointment of an inspector of dead letters

1789 Samuel Osgood was appointed first Postmaster General under Constitution

1823 Navigable waters designated post roads by Congress

1829 Postmaster General joined Cabinet

1838 Railroads designated post routes by Congress

1845 Act of Congress created star routes

1847 U.S. postage stamps issued

1853 Stamped envelopes issued

1855 Registered Mail began

Prepayment of postage required

1858 Street letter boxes installed

1860 Pony Express started

1862 Railway mail service began experimentally

1863 Free city delivery instituted

Postage rates became uniform, regardless of distance

Domestic mail divided into three classes

1864 Post Offices categorized by class

Railway mail service inaugurated

Postal money order system created

1869 International money orders offered

1872 Congress enacted Mail Fraud Statute

Congress makes Post Office Department an executive department

1873 U.S. postal cards issued

1874 General Postal Union established (later Universal Postal Union)

1879 Domestic mail divided into four classes

1885 Special delivery began

1887 International Parcel Post instituted

1893 First commemorative stamps issued

1896 Rural free delivery began experimentally

1898 Private postcards authorized

1902 Rural free delivery became permanent service

1911 Postal Savings System started

First carriage of mail by airplane sanctioned by the Post Office Department

1912 Village delivery offered

1913 Parcel Post began

Insurance offered

Collect on delivery (COD) offered

1914 Government-owned and-operated vehicle service instituted

1918 Scheduled airmail service began

Non-profit second-class rates effective

1920 Metered postage authorized

1924 Scheduled transcontinental airmail service began

1927 International airmail began

1941 Highway Post Offices started

1942 V-mail inaugurated

1943 Postal zoning system began in 124 large cities

1948 Domestic and International Air Parcel Post inaugurated

1950 Residential deliveries reduced to once a day

1952 Nonprofit third-class rates effective

1953 Piggy-back mail service by trailers or railroad flatcars started

1955 Certified mail introduced

1957 Citizens’ Stamp Advisory Committee created

1959 Missile mail dispatched from submarine to mainland Florida

1960 Facsimile mail offered

1961 Mail Users Councils established

1963 ZIP Code and sectional center plan implemented

1964 Self-service Post Offices open

Postmark- simplified

1965 Optical scanner (ZIP Code reader) tested

Mailers’ Technical Advisory Committee established

1966 Postal Savings System terminated

1967 Presorting by ZIP Code became mandatory for second- and third-class mailers

1968 Priority Mail established as a subclass of First-Class Mail

1969 Patronage eliminated in postmaster and rural carrier appointments

1970 Postal Reorganization Act signed

Express Mail began experimentally

MAILGRAM instituted

1971 United States Postal Service began operations

Postmaster General no longer in Cabinet

Labor contract negotiated through collective bargaining, a first for the federal government

National service standards established

Letter cancelled on moon by Apollo 15 mission

1972 Stamps by mail instituted

Passport applications accepted in Post Offices

1973 National service standards expanded

1974 Highway Post Offices terminated

Self-adhesive stamps tested

1975 Post Office class categories eliminated

1976 Discount offered for presorted First-Class Mail

1977 Airmail abolished as a separate rate category

Express Mail became permanent class of service

Final run of railway post office on June 30

1978 Discount offered for presorted second-class mail

Postage stamps and other philatelic items copyrighted

1979 Discount offered for presorted bulk third-class mail

Postal Career Executive Service (PCES) established

New size standards implemented

1980 INTELPOST (high-speed international electronic message service) began

1981 Controlled circulation classification discontinued

Discount offered for First-Class Mail presorted to carrier routes

1982 Automation began with installation of optical character readers

E-COM (Electronic Computer-Originated Mail) offered

Last year Postal Service received public service subsidy

1983 ZIP+4 code instituted

1984 Integrated retail terminals automated postal windows

1985 E-COM terminated

1986 Field divisions created

1987 Stamps by Phone available

Multiline optical character readers ordered

1988 Small parcel and bundle sorters deployed

1989 First Postal Store opened

1990 International business reply mail offered

Easy Stamp allowed computer purchase of stamps

Independent measurement of First-Class Mail service implemented

1991 Wide area barcode readers added

Delivery point sequence processing began

1992 Remote barcoding system introduced

Area and district offices created for customer service and mail processing

Stamps sold through automatic teller machines

Flats barcoded for automation

Self-adhesive stamps introduced nationwide

Postal Service began national environmental program

1993 New corporate logo introduced

Postal Service began selling First Day Covers

National Postal Museum opened in Washington, D.C.

Elvis stamp issued (best-selling commemorative)

1994 Postal Service launched public Internet site

1996 Classification reform enacted

Standard Mail category created

Inspector General appointed

Postal Service released automated postage software via Internet

Self-adhesive coil stamps sold

Flat sorters introduced

1997 Robotic containerization systems deployed

Linerless self-adhesive coil stamps offered

StampsOnline instituted

1998 U.S. semipostal stamp issued

Confirm service tested

1999 Delivery Confirmation launched

PC Postage introduced

POS (Point of Service) ONE began

AFSM 100 installed

Lance Armstrong of the USPS Pro Cycling Team won his first Tour de France

2000 External First Class (EXFC) scores reached record high of
94 percent for the first time

2001 Business alliance with FedEx formed

Mail irradiated due to anthrax threat

Signature Confirmation launched

Internet change of address instituted

2002 Transformation Plan released

President’s Commission on the United States Postal Service established

Record levels of service performance posted for
First-Class Mail and Priority Mail

Confirm service became permanent

2003 Civil Service Retirement System funding reform legislation passed

Repositional notes authorized on advertising mail

First negotiated service agreement

Parcel Return Services pilot program began

2004 Biohazard detection equipment deployed

Pay for Performance implemented

Customized Postage tested

2005 Standard Mail volume outpaces First-Class Mail volume

Strategic Transformation Plan, 2006–2010 issued

2006 Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act signed into law

“Forever” stamp proposed

Intelligent Mail devices with signature capture deployed

New barcode instituted (later called Intelligent Mail barcode)