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Fashionably Plate

Not long ago, I came across this odd sight on my morning run--a car with personalized license plates that read:


That's computer-ese for the "cut" command. I looked around for cars with CTRL C and CTRL V ("copy" and "paste") but didn't see any.

A couple of blocks later, I spotted another tech-themed plate:


A second car in that household would have fit well with DECRYPT on the plates... maybe it had been driven to work that day?

The cheap price of vanity plates, especially in Virginia, has made them a common form of self-expression--and the number of people working in various fields of technology has made computer or Internet-themed plates popular in their own right. My wife used to see examples all the time driving to her old job in Herndon: QWERTY, TPS RPTS (an Office Space reference, for the uninitiated) and DC-TECH, for example.

There are even Web galleries of tech-centric vanity plates to browse through. The most fascinating resource, however, may be the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicle's plate-finder page, which lets you see how see if your chosen string of letters and numbers is available, then see how it would look on different styles of plate. (The District offers the same service online; Maryland doesn't seem to.)

A few minutes with that page revealed that, contrary to my initial suspicions, CTRL C and CTRL V were still available in the Old Dominion, along with their Mac-keyboard equivalents (CMD C and CMD V). DECRYPT was, however, in use--as were all the obvious Internet references, like DOT COM and INTRNET. Tech-policy issues are on display also: Somebody's protesting the Recording Industry Association of America with RIAA SUX tags, although the Motion Picture Association of America has escaped such scorn--and P2P SUX remains open for those wanting to express their disapproval of peer-to-peer file sharing.

The plates most appropriate for some people's driving techniques are, perhaps unsurprisingly, taken: CTRL Z and CMD Z, the PC and Mac keyboard shortcuts for "undo."

What are the oddest tech-focused license plates you've seen on the roads around here? (If you're the owner of any of these plates here, tell us why you picked them out.)

By Rob Pegoraro  |  July 31, 2007; 9:09 AM ET
Categories:  Digital culture  
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It's not exactly a tech plate, but it's geeky enough. Someone who works in my building has a plate that reads THACO. They also have a 20-sided die hanging from their mirror.

It's a D&D reference for those lucky enough not to get it.

Posted by: Arlington, VA | July 31, 2007 2:06 PM | Report abuse

Vanity plates that include numbers are pretty cheap in Illinois, where I live. I haven't seen any good techie plates though.

I wanted to get "7 ZARK 7" as a plate, but it turns out in Illinois you can't mix letters and numbers, you can only have letters and then numbers. So maybe if I move some day...

Again, geeky but not techie (a reference to "Battle of the Planets", American version).

Posted by: Tony | July 31, 2007 2:43 PM | Report abuse

My favorite, belonging to someone who must be a tech writer: IWTFM.

Posted by: Neil | July 31, 2007 3:33 PM | Report abuse

Best one I have seen is rm-rf w... A linux geek friend of mine who hates g.w. Bush has it on his truck.

Posted by: kevin | August 1, 2007 1:22 AM | Report abuse

A few years ago I saw in RTP in NC an NC vanity plate "/dev/car".

Posted by: Derek | August 1, 2007 7:28 AM | Report abuse

WYSIWYG - pretty techie, methinks.

Posted by: driver guy | August 1, 2007 8:38 AM | Report abuse

I've seen a "L33T" Massachusetts plate, no word on "n00b" though.

Posted by: from the north | August 1, 2007 10:23 AM | Report abuse

It's been many years since I've seen "B VMUNIX", which I recognized from my Sun days.

There's an "original" Hummer (H1) I've seen in the business park where I work with the plate "CYBR WAR".

An interesting blend of logic notation and Shakespeare from long ago: "2BV-2B"

More recently I spotted something like "PWNED" on Route 7 in VA.

And my favorite, though non-tech, plate which I've seen on two different cars (I guess he wrecked it again): TOONCES

Posted by: Charles | August 1, 2007 10:52 AM | Report abuse

Virginia plate: UID 0
*NIX root account

Virginia plate: THX AOL
This one is available again, but was seen in the late '90s, presumably someone who bought their car from AOL stock options proceeds.

Posted by: Sean | August 1, 2007 10:58 AM | Report abuse

IWTFM is the BEST (tech) PLATE EVER.

Mine is so obscure as to be useless... RLPF-AR


Posted by: James | August 1, 2007 12:02 PM | Report abuse

Although vanity plates can be witty and help you find your car in a big lot, an officer with the National Park Police once warned the members of our female running club against getting a vanity plate because they're too easy to follow and to gain information about a person's habits - when they leave home, where they work, when they might return. etc.

Posted by: | August 1, 2007 1:43 PM | Report abuse

I think it was on flickr that I saw a Texas plate for a bright red car which was FF0000 the HTML Hex reference for Red

Posted by: Jack | August 6, 2007 10:48 AM | Report abuse

The plate I want when my Web 2.0 site makes me a million bucks is H4XEUSE. The site has yet to do more than pay for its own hosting though, so it may be a while.

Posted by: Katherine | August 7, 2007 2:52 PM | Report abuse

I've had IWTFM plates for about ten years. And yes, I am a tech writer. :-)

Posted by: Tech Writer | August 9, 2007 1:24 AM | Report abuse

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