As you drive on I-94 East toward the Twin Cities there is a wonderful road sign that always made me smile. I saw it regularly when I would return from visiting family in North Dakota. The sign had this wonderful mathematical significance to it. 3 times 33 equals 99.
After seeing this sign for a while I kept wondering how many other mathematically significant road signs are there? And just like that the idea for Road Sign Math was born.
Thanks to the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine I can see the history. I launched the website in February 2005 with a simple post. Initially it was a blog that I posted my signs on, but people were also welcome to send photos of their own mathematically significant signs as well. Since multiple people were playing, there needed to be some rules on how to play.
I believe we got signs from all 50 states. We had a sign from the Serengeti. We had signs from most continents. In 2011 I moved the site from a blog to a wiki with the idea that folks could submit and maintain their own signs. This was all before the rise of mobile phones. When the iPhone arrived I thought it would be amazing to make an iOS app to capture road signs, but that never happened.
In 2016, after 11 years of running this site and several others, I made the decision to do some technical downsizing and turned off a number of hobby projects I had been running.
Road Sign Math was one of the sites shut down. I let the domain name expire and squatters have had the domain ever since, and still do. But the idea of Road Sign Math has never left completely…
In 2021 I registered the domain roadsignmath.xyz. That is an even better domain name for Road Sign Math!
I’ve had multiple sessions looking through various backups thinking about relaunching Road Sign Math in all its wonder, but I’ve got gaps in my archives. Also, the transition from blog to wiki made the archive hard to track.
On some recent road trips we’ve been grabbing some signs. And earlier this year I captured anew the Genesis (2023) sign.
I decided it was time to reboot it, not relaunch it. Start back as a simple blog with the awesome MathJax library. Just my signs. No scoring system or leaderboards. Just a fun place to share mathematically significant road signs.
Consider it my little contribution to keeping the Web weird. 😎