Those of us with long names have often noticed how junk-mail would arrive with only half of our name on it. When mailing databases were designed, programmers plotted out very static data structures that allotted 8-10 characters for a last name, maybe 20 characters for each address line, five characters for a ZIP code. When ZIP codes moved to nine digits, consulting firms had a windfall reorganizing massive databases. Fixed-length was easy and convenient, giving predictable and easily located data storage, but its inflexibility has spelled its doom for the long-term. Object-oriented systems and other file systems have let us escape.

This file created with Hypertype 2.2 by Simon St.Laurent