Timeline of online dating services
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.
|Time period||Development summary||More details|
|Year (month and date)||Event||Venue|
|1690||Personal advertisements first appear in British newspapers.||Newspaper|
|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.|
|1963||Ed Lewis at Iowa State University uses a questionnaire and an IBM computer "to optimize the meeting potential at dances".|
|1964||St. James Computer Dating Service (later to become Com-Pat) launches. Joan Ball started the first commercially run computer generated matchmaking company. The first set of matchups was run in 1964.|
|1965||Operation Match (part of Compatibility Research Inc.) launches. 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." In the 1960s there still was no stigma about computer-assisted matching.|
|1965||Eros (Contact Inc.) launches. 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."|
|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.' "
|1968||Data-Mate launches. Questionnaire-based matching service started at MIT.|
|1970s, early||Phase II is founded. A "computer-dating company" started by James Schur.|
|1974||Cherry Blossoms' mail-order bride catalog launches. Slater calls Cherry Blossoms "one of the oldest mail-order bride agencies". Started by John Broussard.|
|1976||Great Expectations is founded. Video dating service started by Jeffrey Ullman. 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||messageries roses (pink chat rooms) are launches. Chat rooms for dating (using the Minitel network) started by Marc Simoncini. France.|
|1984||Matchmaker Electronic Pen-Pal Network launches. A bulletin board system for romance started by Jon Boede and Scott Smith. Matchmaker grew to 14 local BBSs throughout the US. Eventually people lost interest as BBSs lost out to the World Wide Web, and Matchmaker was superseded by Matchmaker.com.|
|1989||Scanna International launches. Mail-order bride service focusing on Russia and Eastern Europe.|
|1990s, early||Patricia Moore Group launches. An "offline matchmaking service in San Francisco" started by Trish McDermott.|
|1995||Match.com launches. Started by Gary Kremen.|
|2000||eHarmony launches. Online dating service for long-term relationships.|
|2002||Ashley Madison is founded.|
|2003||PlentyofFish launches. Online dating site started by Markus Frind. Significant for being (one of the first?) free dating sites.|
|2003||Proxidating launches. Dating service that used Bluetooth to "alert users when a person with a matching profile was within fifty feet".|
|2006||Badoo launches. A "dating-focused social networking service" (Wikipedia).|
|2006||SeekingArrangement launches. A sugar daddy/sugar baby site in the US.|
|2007||Skout launches. A "location-based social networking and dating application and website".|
|2007||Crazy Blind Date launches. Blind dating service started by Sam Yagan.|
|2008||GenePartner launches. Matching service based on "DNA compatibility".|
|2009||Grindr (initial launch)||App|
|2011||LikeBright launches. Online dating site by Nick Soman. By 2014 the site shut down.||Web|
|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|
|2012||MissTravel.com launches. Dating service for people seeking companionship when traveling. Started by Brandon Wade.||Web|
|2013||EliteSingles launches. Bespoke dating website for professional singles first launched in UK market.||Web|
|2014 (December)||Bumble, a location-based mobile app that permits only women to start a chat with their matches, launches.|
|2015||OpenMinded launches. Dating site for "monogamish" people, started by Brandon Wade.|
|2015||Ashley Madison hack Personal information of Ashley Madison users stolen and released; see Ashley Madison data breach for more.|
|2015 (November 19)||Match Group, which owns and operates several online dating web sites including OkCupid, Tinder, PlentyOfFish, and Match.com, goes public.|
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How the timeline was built
The initial version of the timeline was written by FIXME.
Funding information for this timeline is available.
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What the timeline is still missing
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- Slater, Dan. A Million First Dates.
- 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.
- Lawrence Krakauer writes about his experiences here.
- 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').
- 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.
- Slater, Dan. Wikipedia seems to give a slightly different year.
- 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).
- Michael Arrington (July 22, 2008). "Ok, We Have Our First DNA-Based Dating Service: GenePartner". TechCrunch. Retrieved December 4, 2016.
- Taylor Soper (December 20, 2013). "Matchmaking platform LikeBright raising $1M to help singles land a 2nd date". GeekWire. Retrieved December 4, 2016.
- Taylor Soper (September 18, 2014). "Matchmaking platform LikeBright morphs into Reveal, a new anonymous chat app". GeekWire. Retrieved December 4, 2016.
- "Bumble is a dating app where women take lead". Thestar. Retrieved 3 June 2015.
- Kristine Fellizar (May 13, 2015). "OpenMinded Dating Site For People Looking For Open Relationships, Because Monogamy Isn't For Everyone". Retrieved December 4, 2016.
- "OpenMinded.com - For Open Relationships". OpenMinded. Retrieved December 4, 2016.