Tag Archives: pager

Pager Code

Back in the days before text messaging and cell phones, all the cool kids were rocking pagers. Pagers are little electronic devices used for communication. You simply call up the pager number of the person you’re trying to reach and you would write the phone number where they can call you back. If it was a really important message you would add 911 to the end of it.

Most pagers or beepers could only display numerical message like a phone number. It wasn’t longer before some nerds started realizing that you could use the numbers to write out messages. I imagine it started out as a simple joke, maybe one geek texted 80085 to his friend and they realized that numbers could double as crude letters. Some letters are obvious: a 0 is an “O”, a 1 is an “I”. Some letters were created by using multiple numbers: 12 is an “R”, 17 is an “N”, and 177 is an “M”, etc.

Some common phrases like “I love you” had assigned numbers. “I love you” became 143. “I” is one letter, “love” is four letters, and “you” is three letters.


Pager Code wasn’t set in stone. There would be subtle differences between different regions. Pager code was a fad, it was cumbersome to write and difficult to decipher. You could spend a lot of time trying to figure out that 373948177 is “elephant”. I don’t know why you would be paging someone about an elephant, but it probably happened.

I spent a good three months trying to learn pager code back in the day and I was pretty proficient at it. Now it’s like being skilled in Latin, it’s an impressive language but no one uses it anymore. 74875 580. That’s sad.

Critically Rated at 4/17

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