Each state can have 2,176,782,336 different license plate numbers if the plates are six characters in length and all 26 letters and all 10 digits (0-9) can be used. That’s 2 BILLION with a B.
The mathematical formula for six independent spaces with 36 different options (26 letters and 10 numbers) is 36 x 36 x 36 x 36 x 36 x 36 or 36⁶. This is how you get to the 2,176,782,336 number.
Some states have seven character license plates. This means each of those states has a possible 78.4 billion license plate numbers.
Of course, there are exceptions to this.
- Some states don’t use O because it looks too much like 0.
- No state that I am aware of allows obscene words.
- Some states don’t use all ten digits.
- Some states use three letters for the first three positions and three digits for the final three positions and vice versa. In this case, the formula would be 26 x 26 x 26 x 10 x 10 x 10, or 26³ x 10³, or (26 x 10)³, which equals to 17,576,000.
…… and on and on.
- The first state-issued plate in Massachusetts was issued to Frederick Tudor in 1903 and read, “1.”
- In 1931, Pennsylvania was the first state to offer personalized license plates.
- There was no standard for license plate sizes until 1957.
- In Idaho in 1928, a potato was the first graphic to appear on a license plate.
- Today, all but three states use correctional facilities to produce license plates. Alaska, Hawaii, and Oregon are the exceptions.