What’s in a Number?


Pomona College in Southern California has been a Cycling ’74 customer for over a decade. Beyond our appreciation for Pomona’s use of the software in several different departments, we can empathize with the school’s nerdy obsession with a certain number.

You can probably imagine that we too ascribe magical powers to a certain number similar to the one revered at Pomona, a power which often seems even greater when we are confronted with numbers on either side. I’ve pleaded with my friend Andreas Killen to write a sequel to his wonderful book 1973 Nervous Breakdown with a book about, well, you know… (as a programmer I would think of this as an off-by-one error). Whenever I go to a bakery or a meat counter that uses a take-a-number system, I always hope I will be able to tear off the number 74. In fact if the currently available number is, say, somewhere in the high sixties I might just hang out for a little while. The best possible result would be at a place like Gayle’s where they use take-a-numbers that are of the form . I have never been able to walk in and tear off C74 (I’ve gotten as close as C77), but I still dream of the day when it will happen.


Berlin Storefront, JPG Quality 74

Have you been seeing 74 everywhere lately?