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Matchmaker.com is an Internet (and, prior to the Internet, dial-up) dating service. It was founded in 1986, making it the oldest of the current online dating sites. From 2000 to January 2006, it was run by Lycos. In January 2006, it was purchased by Avalanche, LLC.
Members would complete a questionnaire which consists of several multiple-choice items as well as some essay questions where you can fill in more specific information about yourself such as "What are your hobbies and interests?" or "What would you ideal first date be like?" When one searched for a potential match, matches were ranked according to the percentage of identical responses you have to the responses in someone else's profile in the multiple-choice section of the questionnaire. You could also sort your match list by distance from your zip code to the zip code of the matches.
Matchmaker.com originated from a Bulletin Board System created by Gregory Scott Smith in San Antonio, Texas in March 1983. It began as a dial-up system running on a single Apple II+ with a modem. Shortly afterwards, it was ported to a Microsoft Xenix–based Tandy 6000 microcomputer and re-written in MBASIC, and then re-written again in C by programmer Jon Boede. It was originally conceived as a pen-pal network for everyone. There were no membership fees and the system operated on user donations.
In 1985 the system was relocated to Houston, Texas and operated on four dial-up lines. The following year, two other systems were networked and allowed users in San Antonio, Texas and San Jose, California to join the "date-a-base".
In 1987 the software became available to franchise from the programmer, Jon Boede. The number of local systems grew to about a dozen, and became funded by user subscriptions. This business model allowed for each system to be moved into a commercial office environment for stability.
In September 1998, the system became burdened by having to provide direct dial-in over modems and a decision was made to move to the Internet exclusively.
At the height of the distributed franchise model in 1998, the number of national systems exceeded 60. An agreement was reached to centralize in Bedford, Texas and incorporate with the name Matchmaker.com. Private stock was issued and there were approximately 12 administrators and employees. Patrick M. O'Leary became the company's president.
The original site started in 1986 was in the form of a Dial-up Bulletin board system. Each system catered to a geographic area (code) allowing users to find like interests. The original BBS based system only catered to local computer savvy users within a local telephone area code. However, exchange of email between systems and profiles was later implemented using sendmail and uuencoding making uucp and, ultimately the internet, the Matchmaker network backbone. The Matchmaker network was featured in the first edition of "!%@:: a directory of electronic mail addressing and networks" as one of the larger email networks prior to the rise of the Internet.
In late 1992, the ASCII BBS style was extended to also be a telnet-based service, allowing access from anywhere in the world without the need for telephone long distance charges. A year later, the web-based front end was created. The first Matchmaker system to receive the new version was the largest of the communities at the time, "Christie's Matchmaker" (see below). Other Matchmaker franchises quickly also adopted the web based front-end.
In the late 1990s, each of the franchisees agreed to consolidate, centralize, and combine their resources. In 1998, Matchmaker incorporated and relocated all of the Matchmaker servers to Bedford, Texas.
In the very early days of the mainstream Internet ('90-'97), Matchmaker.com had over 4 million users with up to 230 million page views per month. This explosive growth generated millions of dollars per annum. Unlike Internet companies of today, Matchmaker.com accomplished its substantial growth with revenues solely generated by the company and not infused or borrowed capital. Its rapidly growing network was in competition with today’s well-known companies such as; Match.com, AOL and Yahoo Personals. Even with this robust group of market competitors, Matchmaker.com became the number one singles and dating network on the Internet. While the company was growing, the "Internet Bubble" crash of 2000 took place. In spite of that crash, the company continued to garner serious financial respect. Matchmaker was purchased by Lycos for $44.5 million cash, and all Matchmaker related assets (including fourteen employees) were moved to Waltham, Massachusetts. Unfortunately, the site subsequently has declined in popularity (due in part to competition and a decrease in advertising following the acquisition.)
In January 2006, the site was purchased by Avalanche, LLC. but the website still uses the name Matchmaker.com.
- Adams, Rick; Donnalyn Frey (First Edition, 1989). !%@:: A Directory of Electronic Mail Addressing & Networks. O'Reilly & Associates. ISBN 0-937175-15-3.
- Web archive of Christie's Matchmaker, the first web-based Matchmaker-affiliated site.