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A very thorough scientific analysis of online dating was recently published by Finkel, et al. In an interesting 64 page article, they overview the history of matchmaking, social psychological theories of relationships, and compare online dating to conventional dating. For example, is online dating different than conventional offline dating? And, can mathematical algorithms create good love matches? (2012) say that as early as 1959 a class of Stanford math students created a final project called “Happy Families Planning Services.” They programmed an IBM 650 computer to pair up 49 men and 49 women.

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Calling it punch card dating (does anyone remember punch cards?

), Gene Shalit, describes at least 3 computer dating entrepreneurial endeavors (

In the first one, Harvard undergraduates, Jeff Tarr and Baughn Morrill began Operation Match by sending questionnaires to several Ivy League colleges.

The questionnaire consisted of 135 questions about your ideal boy or your ideal girl. Because computers were huge and expensive, Tarr rented ( instead of buying) computer space on and IBM 7094 for $100 an hour.

By summer, applications exceeded 90,000 and were coming in from all over the country.

Two other computer dating services are mentioned in the 1966 article.De Wan from MIT started Contact by renting a Honeywell 200 at 3am when the rates were lowest. The other computing data service was started at the University of Wisconsin by Weisfield and Rappaport and called Scientific Evaluation of Compatibility Services (SECS).The Look article also includes some humorous, playful, and insightful anecdotes.Weisfield said that his proudest moment was when his service, SECS, became a four letter word.A Northwestern student commented that the date he got “didn’t have much upstairs but what a staircase!” And, a female student thought that boys were more interested a girl’s figure than her academic interests on a questionnaire.

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