JH

Significant numbers

Some numbers trigger memories, just as names do. Say 318 and I immediately think of the BMW. Then there's 666 - the Mark of the Beast. I have no idea what that might look like ... the footprint of a gigantic hound, perhaps? But then, Claire's drama teacher once told her that All Men are Beasts, so maybe I should look closer to home.

A random example from my former life as a journeyman engineer would be 555, which was a simple integrated circuit with one useful function - it told you when a certain interval of time had elapsed. The chip evolved through several generations and technologies, but to an electronics engineer 555 still means 'timer'.

What follows is a list of numbers that for various reasons have come to mean something to me. They may mean absolutely nothing to you, and it could well be more rewarding to compile your own list than to read mine. Or we could all just go and get a life.

1One: The Queen, ... and PAT1, the registration of Postman Pat's van.
2Too many cooks, ... and Two, two, the lily-white boys. Camp followers?
3Three men in a boat, ... and the Holy Trinity, ... and three's a crowd.
4A4 paper, ... and the four Gospels, ... and C4 plastic explosive, ... and the four horsemen of the Apocalypse.
5Five Go-old Rings! ... and MI5, ... and the Famous Five, not forgetting Timmy the dog, with lashings of ginger beer.
6IE6, a badly-designed browser that makes web designers grind their teeth.
7The seven sisters (the Pleiades), ... and Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, ... and 007, ... and the Age of Reason ... and the Seven Pillars of Wisdom ... and days ...
8The colours on the Discworld (the eighth is octarine, if you didn't already know), ... and Eight Days A Week.
9The nine tailors, ... and cloud nine, ... and the whole nine yards.
10Ten out of ten - full marks! ... and on the other hand, 10 Downing Street.
11The 11-plus examination, ... and Chapter 11, which is bankruptcy in the US.
1212 hoops on a croquet lawn, ... and twelve apostles, ... and months, of course.
13Unlucky for some, ... and the cards in a suit, ... and a baker's dozen, ... and the 13-amp plug, which must have been designed by a committee.
1414 pounds in a stone. English stones are all the same weight.
15MiG-15, ... and the players in a rugby team.
16Sweet sixteen, and never been kissed.
17Seventeen come Sunday, ... and "Lazy she lies alone in clover and sweet-grass, seventeen and never been sweet in the grass, ho ho."
18The age of consent, ... and the holes on a golf course.
19My 19-inch monitor.
2020 shillings in a pound (a different pound to the ones in the stone). ... and Twentieth Century Fox.
21Key of the door. Although not these days, it seems.
22Catch-22, ... and my brother's .22 air-rifle, ... and the length of a cricket pitch.
23Type 23 frigate, ... and the chromosomes in a human being, ... and the 23rd Psalm.
24Four-and-twenty blackbirds baked in a pie, ... and 24 hours to Tulsa.
25Silver wedding anniversary.
26Letters in the alphabet, ... and the winning score in croquet. (Thanks, Don.)
27Three to the power of three.
28Things connected with the moon, ... and the dominoes in a set.
29February days in a leap year, ... and the MiG-29.
30Thirty days hath September, ... and the 30 mph speed limit.
31... all the rest have 31, except ...
3232-bit processor, ... and freezing in Fahrenheit.
33A French beer that tastes just like every other French beer.
34The Soviet T-34 wartime tank.
3535mm film, ... and the iniquitous IR35.
36The winning numbers on a roulette wheel (0 and 00 don't count).
37An important prime!
38Handguns: the .38 Police Special (0.38"), ... and the Walther P38 pistol (1938).
39The Thirty-nine Steps - a ripping yarn, ... and 39 inches in a metre, near enough.
40Life begins at 40, so they say, ... and WD-40, the magic spray.
42The Answer to the Ultimate Question! The Question itself is more complicated ... and 42nd Street, a terrific musical.
43"She could easily pass for forty-three, at night, with the light behind her ..."
44.44 Magnum. Make my day!
45Colt .45 - the pistol that won the West, ... and 45rpm records, or 'discs'.
47Boeing B-47 cold-war bomber, ... and the Kalashnikov AK-47 assault rifle, ... and the C-47 transport aircraft, also known as the Dakota. All very military.
48... hours, for some unknown reason.
49The '49 gold rush, ... and PC 49 - a wireless bobby.
50Bullseye, ... and a Golden Wedding anniversary, ... and mains frequency.
51Area 51 in Nevada, where the UFOs are kept safely hidden.
52The number of cards in a pack, ... and weeks in a year, ... and the B-52 bomber.
5757 varieties - Heinz beans, for one.
60A free bus-pass, ... and 60-watt lightbulbs, ... and US mains frequency: what's wrong with 50 Hz, tell me? ... and Carbon-60, the buckyball.
64"Will you still need me / Will you still feed me?" ... and the number of squares on a chessboard.
65The State thinks you're old, and some days, you feel it.
66England 4, West Germany 2, ... and Route 66.
68FCC Part 68 - the US telecomms interface spec.
69If you don't know, I'm not going to tell you.
70Three score years and ten, ... and the national speed limit, apparently.
71Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird: Mach 3 at 80,000 feet for 3,000 miles. Wow!
72The 1/72nd scale Airfix model aircraft kits of my boyhood.
73Means "Best wishes" from a radio amateur.
7474xx were TTL ICs - the first logic family.
7575-ohm coaxial cable.
76"76 trombones led the big parade ..."
7777 Sunset Strip.
7878-rpm records - fragile and scratchy.
808080 - the first successful microprocessor.
81Sinclair ZX81, with a massive 1k of RAM! Really!
83ECC83, a low noise dual triode. Yes, hum and distortion - that classic valve sound.
86F-86 Sabre, the first US jet fighter.
87Ed McBain's 87th Precinct, where the detectives never get any older.
88Two fat ladies, though I've never played Bingo in my life.
90A right angle.
92TO-92 - the shape of a plastic transistor.
95Martin Luther's 95 theses, nailed to a church door.
98Windows 98. Say no more. Please.
99An ice-cream with a flake - what a wonderful combination on a summer day.
100A telegram from the Queen, ... and a century at cricket.
101101 dalmatians, ... and the introductory course on something or other.
104F-104 - the West German 'widow-maker', ... and Ten-Four, American police slang for "Roger, Wilco."
105The 105 howitzer, ... and the F-105 fighter/bomber/reconnaissance aircraft from the Vietnam war.
108BC108 - a low-noise audio transistor I used a lot.
109Messerschmitt Me109, much cheaper than a Spitfire, fortunately.
110Messerschmitt Me110, ... and US mains voltage.
111F-111 - swing wings and an escape capsule.
112112 pounds in a hundredweight. Wouldn't a hundred be more sensible?
117117 Blue Hill Lane - the address I had to memorise when I was four years old.
123Lotus 1-2-3 was a spreadsheet long before Excel.
125High-speed trains. But how fast do they go when there are leaves on the line?
130The C-130 Hercules. 'Fat Albert' to its' crews, I'm told.
180One hundred and EIGHTY! Is it compulsory for darts players to be spherical?
188MIL-STD-188, a US military telecomms standard.
190Focke-Wulf Fw190. Brilliant design, later plagiarised as the Typhoon.
192Directory enquiries, which used to be free.
198BBC Radio 4, 198 kHz long wave.
199Rolls-Royce RB199 engine, used in the Tornado, and tested on a Vulcan!
200200 for passing Go, then you land on Old Kent Road with a hotel on it.
208Radio Luxembourg. All the pop songs the prim BBC wouldn't play.
210Polonium-210, a fashionable and rather nasty poison.
212Water boils at 212 degrees Fahrenheit, at sea level anyway.
213Los Angeles area code. Well, one of them.
220TO-220 is the plastic power transistor package.
221221B Baker Street. You astound me, Holmes!
230Chinese dentist time.
232The long-lasting RS-232 interface.
235Uranium-235.
240240 pennies in a pound, ... and 240-volt mains.
256A magic computer number.
303The Lee-Enfield 0.303 rifle. Awkward, heavy, and with a painful recoil.
314Pi ... 'How-I-need-a-drink-alcoholic-of-course', if you want greater accuracy.
318BMW 318i - a pretty car.
324LM324 - a ubiquitous quad op-amp.
350Mercedes
357Magnum .357 (and why did they name an ice-cream after a gun?)
360A circle.
365Obviously, days in a year.
380Airbus A380 airliner.
404Error code 404 - Website not found. An irritating message.
405UK television originally had just 405 lines, when the world was black and white.
406Peugeot 406. A sleek car.
440Grammes in a pound. At least, it is when I'm cooking.
451'Fahrenheit 451' - Ray Bradbury. Good novel, poor science.
500Fortune 500 - the biggest companies in America (cars, petrol and money).
501Levi jeans. Such is the power of advertising.
525US TV uses 525 lines (less a few), using the NTSC standard. Some say that NTSC means Never Twice the Same Colour.
555A timer IC that was simple, cheap and effective, ... and wasn't there a brand of up-market cigarettes called '555'?
600600 ohms is said to be the impedance of a telephone line. In fact, it's not.
625625-line television. And some of those are taken up by Teletext.
633633 Squadron - film about the Mosquito raid in Norway.
661Resolution 661 instructed Iraq to get out of Kuwait.
666The Mark of the Beast! But how do you know it's not just '999' upside down?
690The Mighty 690, a Californian radio station I used to listen to in the '80s.
709A popular unstable early op-amp that taught me a lot ...
7117-Eleven: mom-and-pop convenience stores in the US.
741... and the 709's stable successor. Like a donkey-ride after a horse race.
746One horse-power is equivalent to 746 watts.
747The jumbo jet, a giant double-decker bus with wings.
800Free telephone calls.
807A big hot valve, much used at one time in small radio transmitters.
819French television has 819 lines. Isn't it time we had a better quality picture too?
898Very expensive telephone calls.
911The Twin Towers.
999Emergency.