Beep Me! (Beeper Codes)

July 24, 2013

Before email, cell phones, and text messaging, people had to instantly communicate with beepers. And a secret language of beeper codes.

Beeper codesFrom the mid-‘90s to the early 2000s, before cell phones became ubiquitous, the best, cheapest way for parents to keep track of their teenagers, and for teenagers to keep track of each other, were beepers, or pagers. Here’s how it worked: From any phone, you’d dial a friend’s beeper number. They’d receive a simple text message on their pager’s display: your number, and any other numbers you wanted to include. For example: “911” would mean “call me right now – it’s an emergency.”

From that spawned a new language of beeper codes. Those little coded messages became both a shorthand, a way to actually communicate via the very limited capacity of a pager, and also a way to shut out uninformed, nosey parents. Here are some of those old beeper codes. (While some of them make perfect sense, others seem quite random. But who can understand these kids today…or yesterday?)

0001000 – “I’m alone” (see the “1” all by itself?)

0099 – “We’re going out, do you want to come?”

04*04*04 – “Merry Christmas” (flip the pager upside-down and it reads “ho ho ho”)

05*05 – “We’re going out for margaritas!” (5/5 = May 5th = Cinco de Mayo = margaritas)

1*800 – “No plans tonight” (1-800 means “I’m free,” get it?)

10000 – “Let’s go swimming” (10000 as in 10,000 Leagues Under the Sea)

11111111 – “Congratulations” (it looks like a string of exclamation points)

90210 – “What a snob”

333 – “What’s up?”

411 – “Give me information”

420 – “I’m in big trouble”

87 – “Running late” (upside-down, the 7 looks like an L, so together, it’s “L8”)

9*5 – “I just got off of work”

555 – “Call me” (after the phony “555” prefix used for phone numbers in movies)

710 – “I’m out of gas” (upside-down it looks like the word “oil”)

143 – “I love you” (one letter in “I,” four in “love,” three in “you”)

1423 – “I want to die” (one letter in “I,” four in “want,” 2=to, three letters in “die”)

811 – “Not quite an emergency, but pretty important”

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July 24, 2013 3:45 pm

I don’t understand why 10000 isn’t 20000. Is 10000 human powered water travel and 20000 uses a sub or something?

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