Timeline of technology-assisted dating services

Note: this page has moved to Wikipedia. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timeline_of_online_dating_services.

Year

Service

Notes

1690

Personal advertisements first appear in British newspapers

1959

Happy Families Planning Services

Started by Jim Harvey and Phil Fialer as a class project at Stanford. Used a questionnaire and an IBM 650 to match 49 men and 49 women.

1963

Ed Lewis's matching program (no name)

Ed Lewis at Iowa State University used a questionnaire and an IBM computer to “to optimize the meeting potential at dances”.1

1965

Operation Match (part of Compatibility Research Inc.)

Started by Jeff Tarr and Vaughan Morrill at Harvard. Used a questionnaire and an IBM 1401 to match students. There was a $3 fee for submitting a questionnaire.

“By the fall of sixty-five, six months after the launch, some ninety thousand Operation Match questionnaires had been received, amounting to $270,000 in gross profits, about $1.8 million in today’s dollars.”2

In the 1960s there still was no stigma about computer-assisted matching.

1965

Eros (Contact Inc.)

Started by David Dewan at MIT. Used a dating questinnaire and Honeywell 200. “In one distribution of questionnaires, he drew eleven thousand responses at $4 each, or $44,000 in gross profits, about $250,000 in today’s dollars.”3

1965

New York Review of Books personals column

Slater writes:

Classifieds made a comeback in America in the 1960s and 1970s, encouraged by the era’s inclination toward individualism and social exhibitionism. “Everybody was letting it all hang out in other ways,” said Raymond Shapiro, a business manager for the New York Review of Books, “so suddenly it was okay to display oneself in print. It was very important to be ‘self-aware.’ So you’d get ads like: ‘Astrologer, 27, psychology student, desires to establish non-superficial friendship with sensitive, choicelessly aware persons who are non-self-oriented, deep, and wish to unearth real, personness relationships.’ ”4

1968

Data-Mate

Questionnaire-based matching service started at MIT.5

Early 1970s

Phase II

A “computer-dating company” started by James Schur.6

1974

Cherry Blossoms' mail-order bride catalog

Slater calls Cherry Blossoms “one of the oldest mail-order bride agencies”. Started by John Broussard.

1976

Great Expectations

Video dating service started by Jeffrey Ullman.7 8 The service achieved some notability, but it never overcame stigma.

There were also apparently other video dating services like Teledate and Introvision, but it's nearly impossible to find anything about them online.

1980s

messengeries roses (pink chat rooms)

Chat rooms for dating started by Marc Simoncini. France.

19849

Matchmaker Electronic Pen-Pal Network

A bulletin board system for romance started by Jon Boede and Scott Smith. Matchmaker grew to 14 local BBSs throughout the US. Eventally people lost interest as BBSs lost out to the World Wide Web, and Matchmaker was superseded by Matchmaker.com.

1989

Scanna International

Mail-order bride service focusing on Russia and Eastern Europe.

Early 1990s

Patricia Moore Group

An “offline matchmaking service in San Francisco” started by Trish McDermott.

1995

Match.com

Started by Gary Kremen.

1997

JDate

199710

Lavalife

2000

eHarmony

Online dating service for long-term relationships.

2003

PlentyofFish

Online dating site started by Markus Frind.

Significant for being (one of the first?) free dating sites.

2003

Proxidating

Dating service that used Bluetooth to “alert users when a person with a matching profile was within fifty feet”.11

2004

OkCupid

2006

Badoo

A “dating-focused social networking service” (Wikipedia).

2006

SeekingArrangement

A sugar daddy/sugar baby site in the US.

2007

Skout

A “location-based social networking and dating application and website”12.

2007

Crazy Blind Date

Blind dating service started by Sam Yagan.

200813

GenePartner

Matching service based on “DNA compatibility”.

2009

Grindr (initial launch)

2011

LikeBright

Online dating site by Nick Soman.14 By 2014 the site shut down.15

2012(?)

Highlight

Slater calls it a “location-based dating app”, though this doesn't seem to be its main function (it seems more social than romantic).

2012

Tinder

Dating app.

2012

MissTravel.com

Dating service for people seeking companionship when traveling.

Started by Brandon Wade.

2015

OpenMinded

Dating site for “monogamish” people, started by Brandon Wade.16 17

See also


  1. Slater, Dan. A Million First Dates.
  2. Slater, Dan. A Million First Dates.
  3. Slater, Dan. A Million First Dates.
  4. Slater, Dan. A Million First Dates.
  5. Lawrence Krakauer writes about his experiences here.
  6. Slater, Dan. A Million First Dates. There doesn't seem to be a lot of information available on this.
  7. Ullman's LinkedIn.
  8. LA Times article that Dan Slater references.
  9. Slater, Dan. Wikipedia seems to give a slightly different year.
  10. Slater calls Lavalife a copycat of Match.com, so it ought to have started after 1995. This page gives 1997, but Wikipedia gives 1987 (while still including it in the category Internet properties established in 1997).
  11. Slater, Dan.
  12. Wikipedia. Wikipedia implies that Skout is the “developer” of the app and website; I'm not entirely sure.
  13. TechCrunch.
  14. GeekWire article.
  15. GeekWire.
  16. Bustle.
  17. https://www.openminded.com/