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Flat Rate Postage

Off-topic. Flat rate postage. Think USPS and Amazon Prime. We must thank Charles Babbage, the father of computing, for coming up with the idea. In the 1953 book “Faster than Thought,” the author talks about Charles Babbage, his inventions, and his opinions on computers. One story I found interesting as I read the book now as if it is the future from when the book was published, is non-computer related. With primitive instruments in modern terms, Babbage invented the method of “operational research” in parallel to creating the Analytical Engine in the 1800s. (Side note: he invented parallel computing as well, but that is another story) He convinced the Post Office in England that the cost of collecting, stamping, and delivering a letter outweighs the cost of transporting it. He then suggested the idea of a flat rate of charges independent of the distance of the letter’s transfer journey. Penny post mail was introduced a few years later. Flat rate charges as a concept are still something we take for granted today.

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