Timeline of online dating services

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The content on this page is forked from the English Wikipedia page entitled "Timeline of online dating services". The original page still exists at Timeline of online dating services. The original content was released under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License (CC-BY-SA), so this page inherits this license.

This is a timeline of online dating services that also includes broader events related to technology-assisted dating (not just online dating). Where there are similar services, only major ones or "the first of its kind" are listed.

Big picture

Time period Development summary
1695 to 1958 Uses of newspaper to find dates
1959 - 1994 Computer-assisted match-making
1995 - today Online dating services

Full timeline

Date Medium User goal Geographical range User base size Longevity Success
1695 Personal advertisements first appear in British newspapers. Newspaper mariage UK
1700s Newspaper taboo relationship UK
1959 Happy Families Planning Services launches. 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.[1] Paper + Computer marriage US 49
1963 Ed Lewis at Iowa State University uses a questionnaire and an IBM computer "to optimize the meeting potential at dances".[2] Paper + Computer relationship US
1964 St. James Computer Dating Service (later to become Com-Pat) launches. Joan Ball starts the first commercially run computer generated matchmaking company. The first set of matchups is run.[3] Computer 1964
1965 'The New York Review of Books personals column makes a comeback. 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.' "[2]
Magazine relationship US 1960 - 1970
1965 Operation Match (part of Compatibility Research Inc.) launches. It's started by Jeff Tarr and Vaughan Morrill at Harvard. It uses a questionnaire and an IBM 1401 to match students. There is 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 is no stigma about computer-assisted matching. Computer relationship US 1960
1965 Eros (Contact Inc.) launches. It's started by David Dewan at MIT. It uses 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."[2] Computer relationship 1965
1968 Data-Mate is launched at the MIT. It's a questionnaire-based matching service.[4] Computer relationship US 1968 - 1970
1970s, early Phase II is founded by James Schur. It's a "computer-dating company".[2] Computer relationship 1970
1974 Cherry Blossoms' mail-order bride catalog launches. It's started by John Broussard. It would become "one of the oldest mail-order bride agencies". Magazine marriage 1974
1976 Great Expectations is founded by Jeffrey Ullman. It's a video dating service.[5][6] The service would achieve some notability, but it would never overcome stigma. There is also apparently other video dating services like Teledate and Introvision[note 1]. Video dating relationship 1976
1980s 'messageries roses (pink chat rooms) are launched by Marc Simoncini. They are chat rooms for dating (using the Minitel network). Computer relationship France 1980
1984[7] Matchmaker Electronic Pen-Pal Network is launched by Jon Boede and Scott Smith. It's a bulletin board system for romance. Matchmaker would grow to 14 local BBSs throughout the US. Eventually people would lose interest as BBSs would lose out to the World Wide Web, and Matchmaker would be superseded by Matchmaker.com.[8] Computer, internet relationship US 1984-1986
1989 Scanna International launches. It's a mail-order bride service.[9] Telephone, later Web Marriage Russia and Eastern Europe 1989
1990s, early Patricia Moore Group is launched by Trish McDermott. It's an "offline matchmaking service in San Francisco". relationship San Francisco 1990
1995 Match.com is launched by Gary Kremen.[10] Computer, internet relationship US, Japan, Rio de Janeiro, Beijing one of the most-visited dating sites
1997[11] Lavalife Computer, internet relationship US 1997 online dating success stories for over 25 years
1997 JDate Computer, internet relationship Jewish 1997 site won a 2006 Webby award for social networking
2000 eHarmony launches. They offer online dating service for long-term relationships.[12] Computer, internet long-term relationship US, Canada, Australia and the United Kingdom millions of people of all ages 2000- ...
2002 Ashley Madison is founded. Computer, internet relationship Canada
2003 Proxidating launches. It's a dating service that uses Bluetooth to "alert users when a person with a matching profile was within fifty feet".[2] Bluetooth-enabled proximity, Computer relationship
2003 PlentyofFish launched by Markus Frind. It's an online dating site significant for being (one of the first?) free dating sites. Computer, internet relationship Canada, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, Brazil, and the United States
2004 OkCupid launches. Computer, internet long term romantic relationship, short term romantic relationship, friendship, sex International millions of potential mates out there 2004-2019
2006 SeekingArrangement launches. It's a sugar daddy/sugar baby site in the US. Computer, internet romantic US
2006 Badoo launches. It's a "dating-focused social networking service". App social International 2006-... most-downloaded dating app in 21 countries., world's most widely-used dating network
2007 Skout launches. It's a "location-based social networking and dating application and website". App relationship International Millions of people 2007-...
2007 Crazy Blind Date is launched by Sam Yagan. It's a blind dating service. App relationship 90000 2007
2008 GenePartner launches. It's a matching service based on "DNA compatibility". App relationship
2009 Grindr (initial launch) App relationship International 4 million users 2009- ...
2011 LikeBright is launched by Nick Soman. It's an online dating site.[13] By 2014 the site would shut down.[14] Web relationship 2014
2012 Tinder launches. App relationship International one billion 2012- ...
2012 MissTravel.com is launched by Brandon Wade. It's a dating service for people seeking companionship when traveling. Web companion during travel International one million 2010-... leading online dating site for wanderlust singles
2012 Highlight launches. Slater calls it a "location-based dating app", though this doesn't seem to be its main function (it seems more social than romantic). App relationship
2013 EliteSingles launches. Bespoke dating website for professional singles is first launched in UK market. Web relationship UK
2014 (December) Bumble, a location-based mobile app that permits only women to start a chat with their matches, launches.[15] App relationship 2014-...
2015 OpenMinded is launched by Brandon Wade. It's a dating site for "monogamish" people.[16][17] Web relationship 2015-...
2015 (November 19) Match Group, which owns and operates several online dating web sites including OkCupid, Tinder, PlentyOfFish, and Match.com, goes public. Web relationship International 2015-...
2015 Ashley Madison gets hacked; users' personal information is stolen and released; see Ashley Madison data breach for more. Web relationship US
2019 Facebook Dating launches. Web relationship

Numerical and visual data

Google Scholar

The following table summarizes per-year mentions on Google Scholar as of August 15, 2021.

Year "online dating"
2000 34
2002 76
2004 188
2006 425
2008 694
2010 1,030
2012 1,440
2014 1,890
2016 2,540
2018 2,570
2020 2,990
Online dating service google schoolar.png

Google Trends

The image below shows Google Trends data for Online dating service (Topic), from January 2004 to March 2021, when the screenshot was taken. Interest is also ranked by country and displayed on world map.[18]

Online dating service gt.png

The comparative chart below shows Google Trends data for OkCupid (Website), Tinder (app) and Badoo (Social network), from January 2004 to March 2021, when the screenshot was taken. Interest is also ranked by country and displayed on world map.[19]

OkCupid, Tinder and Badoo gt.png

Google Ngram Viewer

The chart below shows Google Ngram Viewer data for Online dating service, from 1990 to 2019[20]

Online dating service ngram.png

Wikipedia Views

The chart below shows pageviews of the English Wikipedia article Online dating service, on desktop, mobile-web, desktop-spider, mobile-web-spider and mobile app, from July 2015 to February 2021.[21]

Online dating service wv.png

The chart below shows pageviews of the English Wikipedia articles OkCupid, Tinder and Badoo, on desktop from December 2007 to February 2021.[22]

OkCupid, Tinder and Badoo wv.png

Meta information on the timeline


The initial version of the timeline was imported from Wikipedia by Issa Rice.

In July 2019, User:Mati Roy outsourced find a couple other sources and creating new columnns: Medium, User goal, Geographical range, User base size, Longevity, Success; see outsourced work on Trello. User:Mati Roy reviewed the outsourced work and the timeline as a whole, formatted the sources, change the tense of the verbs to present, added Facebook Dating, added section for notes. Article I read to look for potentially missing information: The History of Online Dating From 1695 to Now. Live stream of the work is available here: [1], [2], [3], [4].

Funding information for this timeline is available.

Feedback and comments

Feedback for the timeline can be provided at the following places:

What the timeline is still missing

  • Add graph of the number of people that met online (note: email mrosenfe@stanford.edu when zir paper [5] will be published and ze will give us permission to post the graph at the end of the paper on the Timelines Wiki)
  • Look at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparison_of_online_dating_services for ideas
  • Consider adding more non-US dating sites
  • Consider adding matrimonial sites
  • Add background events relevant to online dating, like when mobile phones came out
  • Add events about back-end consolidation (e.g. how Match Group owns OkCupid, Tinder, etc. and events that led that to happen)
  • Maybe include some background statistics like graphs for age of marriage
  • Pew reports might be worth citing
  • The role of social media esp. Facebook as a platform and data source that dating apps can build on
  • The growth of dating services that are women centered, like Bumble, and the distinction between ones that explicitly match versus just let folks discover

Timeline update strategy

Consider keeping the Wikipedia timeline in sync.

See also

Notes and references


  1. but it's nearly impossible to find anything about them online


  1. "The First Computer Computer Matching Dating Service : History of Information". www.historyofinformation.com. Retrieved 2019-07-23. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 Slater, Dan. A Million First Dates. 
  3. Hicks, Marie (2016). "Computer Love: Replicating Social Order Through Early Computer Dating Systems". Ada: A Jornal of Gender, New Media and Technology. ISSN 2325-0496. 
  4. Lawrence Krakauer writes about his experiences here.
  5. Ullman, Jeff. "Jeff Ullman". LinkedIn. Retrieved December 4, 2016. Great Expectations (video dating) December 1975 – January 1997 (21 years 2 months) Created, served as CEO, and primary international media spokesperson for 'Great Expectations', which we built into the world's largest introduction service for singles (aka, 'video dating'). 
  6. Wallace, Amy (January 16, 1994). "Love God From Hell : The Man Who Brought You Videodating Hates to Date, Loves to Taunt and Has Himself Been Unlucky in Love. Would You Buy a Relationship From Jeffrey Ullman?". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved December 4, 2016.  Dan Slater references this article.
  7. Slater, Dan. Wikipedia seems to give a slightly different year.
  8. LLC, Revolvy. ""Timeline of online dating services" on Revolvy.com". www.revolvy.com. Retrieved 2019-07-23. 
  9. S.Y. Chun, Christine (2014). The Mail-order Bride Industry: The Perpetuation Of Transnational Economic Inequalities And Stereotypes. Penn Law: Legal Scholarship Repository. 
  10. Contributor, Jeff Kauflin. "How Match.com's founder revolutionized the dating world — and walked away with just $50,000". Business Insider. Retrieved 2019-07-23. 
  11. 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 :Category:Internet properties established in 1997). Lavalife's website says they started in 1987.
  12. "About eHarmony | Learn About Our Online Dating Site & Services!". www.eharmony.com. Retrieved 2019-07-23. 
  13. Taylor Soper (December 20, 2013). "Matchmaking platform LikeBright raising $1M to help singles land a 2nd date". GeekWire. Retrieved December 4, 2016. 
  14. Taylor Soper (September 18, 2014). "Matchmaking platform LikeBright morphs into Reveal, a new anonymous chat app". GeekWire. Retrieved December 4, 2016. 
  15. "Bumble is a dating app where women take lead". Thestar. Retrieved 3 June 2015. 
  16. Kristine Fellizar (May 13, 2015). "OpenMinded Dating Site For People Looking For Open Relationships, Because Monogamy Isn't For Everyone". Retrieved December 4, 2016. 
  17. "OpenMinded.com - For Open Relationships". OpenMinded. Retrieved December 4, 2016. 
  18. "Online dating service". Google Trends. Retrieved 25 March 2021. 
  19. "OkCupid, Tinder and Badoo". Google Trends. Retrieved 25 March 2021. 
  20. "Online dating service". books.google.com. Retrieved 25 March 2021. 
  21. "Online dating service". wikipediaviews.org. Retrieved 25 March 2021. 
  22. "OkCupid, Tinder and Badoo". wikipediaviews.org. Retrieved 25 March 2021.