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Hardly a week goes by without another new think piece about online dating either revolutionizing society or completely ruining our ability to have real relationships.But these hyperbolic pronouncements miss a deeper fact: At its core, "online dating" isn't something we just started doing 5, 10 or even 20 years ago.These kinds of ads were especially fashionable among lonely soldiers during World War I.1960s: Counterculture and Computer Love Removed from the context of wartime, old stigmas crept back in.One of the earliest personals ever placed was by a 30-year-old man, with "a very good estate', announcing he was in search of 'some good young gentlewoman that has a fortune of £3,000 or thereabouts." (£3,000 is equivalent to roughly £300,000 today.#Shamelessly Seeking Sugar Momma...) 1700s: Personal Ads for Homosexual Safety Personal ads were one of the only ways for the gay and lesbian communities to meet discreetly and safely at this time.For , users could answer questionnaires and receive a list of potential matches, a process that is still used by many dating sites.
1695: The First Personal Ads According to history professor H. Cocks (seriously --The Best Name Ever for an academic) personal ads began as a way to help British bachelors find eligible wives.Like the Internet today, lonely hearts ads were suspected of harboring all sort of scams and perversities.Because they were often used by homosexuals and sex workers, British police continued to prosecute those who placed personals until the late 1960s, when ads became part of the burgeoning youth counterculture. In 1965, a team of Harvard undergrads created Operation Match, the world's first computer dating service.Even before the Web itself, bulletin boards and newsgroups hosted a variety of ways people could use technology to meet others with similar interests, including dating.Services such as America Online, Prodigy and eventually Craigslist offered chat rooms, forums and online classifieds of use to singles.