Timeline of online dating services

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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.

Full timeline[edit]

Year (month and date) Event Venue
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".[1]
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.[2]
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 [2014]'s dollars."[1] 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 [2014]'s dollars."[1]
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.' "[1]

1968 Data-Mate launches. Questionnaire-based matching service started at MIT.[3]
1970s, early Phase II is founded. A "computer-dating company" started by James Schur.[1]
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.[4][5] 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) launches chat rooms for dating (using the Minitel network) started by Marc Simoncini. France.
1984[6] 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.
1987 TelePersonals is created as a separate telephone dating system in Toronto, Canada from a earlier "Personals" dating section of a telephone classified business. As part of an advertising program a selection of ads appear on the back pages of Now Magazine, the Canadian equivalent of the Village Voice. Services in different cities around the Toronto area are launched. A gay option is quickly added. The gay section becomes its own branded service. At the very beginning of the 2000s TelePersonals launches online and is rebranded as Lava Life with sections for cities across the United States and Canada. Telephone, later Web
1989 Scanna International launches. Mail-order bride service focusing on Russia and Eastern Europe.
1994 Kiss.com launches. The first modern dating website.
1995 Match.com launches. Started by Gary Kremen.
1997 JDate launches dating service targeted at Jewish singles
2000 eHarmony launches. Online dating service for long-term relationships.
2001 Christian Mingle launches dating service for Christian singles
2002 Friendster is launched. A friendship, dating and early general Social networking website all rolled into one. In 2005 Facebook copies and expands the idea into a general social interconnected website. Web
2002 Ashley Madison is founded.
2002 PrimeSingles.net launches as a dating service for singles over 50. This name changes to Single Seniors Meet in 2009 and to SilverSingles in 2011
2003 Proxidating launches. Dating service that used Bluetooth to "alert users when a person with a matching profile was within fifty feet".[1]
2004 OkCupid launches. Web
2006 Spark Networks, owner of niche dating sites like Jdate and Christian Mingle, goes public.[7]
2006 Badoo launches dating-focused social networking service
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.
2007 Zoosk launches. A global online-dating service started by Shayan Zadeh and Alex Mehr.
2008 GenePartner launches matching service based on "DNA compatibility".[8]
2009 Grindr (initial launch) App
2009 eDarling launches, focusing on the European dating market
2011 LikeBright launches. Online dating site by Nick Soman.[9] By 2014 the site shut down.[10] Web
2011 Dating group Spark Networks acquires Senior Singles Meet (formerly PrimeSingles) and changes the name to SilverSingles
2012(?) Highlight launches. Slater calls it a "location-based dating app". App
2012 Tinder launches. App
2013 EliteSingles launches.
2014 (Passover) JSwipe launches. A dating app for Jewish millennials
2014 (December) Bumble, a location-based mobile app that permits only women to start a chat with their matches, launches.[11]
2015 Ashley Madison hack Personal information of Ashley Madison users stolen and released; see Ashley Madison data breach for more.
2015 Jdate owners Spark Networks Inc buy JSwipe from Smooch Labs[12]
2015 (November 19) Match Group, which owns and operates several online dating web sites including OkCupid, Tinder, PlentyOfFish, and Match.com, goes public.
2017 Affinitas GmbH (owner of dating websites like EliteSingles and eDarling) merges with Spark Networks, Inc, (owner of dating websites like Christian Mingle, Jdate, and SilverSingles) to create Spark Networks SE
2019 Spark Networks SE acquires Zoosk, forming North America's second-largest dating company in revenues[13]
The continued rise of meeting online for heterosexual couples.

Dominance of online dating[edit]

A 2017 survey tracked the change in how Americans meet their spouses and romantic partners since 1940. The results showed a steep increase in the proportion of couples whose first interaction occurred through online media. [14][15]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f Slater, Dan. A Million First Dates.
  2. ^ 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.
  3. ^ Lawrence Krakauer writes about his experiences here.
  4. ^ 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').
  5. ^ 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.
  6. ^ Slater, Dan.
  7. ^ Gelsi, Steve. "Spark Networks files $75 million IPO". MarketWatch. Retrieved 2019-11-20.
  8. ^ Arrington, Michael (July 22, 2008). "Ok, We Have Our First DNA-Based Dating Service: GenePartner". TechCrunch. Retrieved December 4, 2016.
  9. ^ Soper, Taylor (December 20, 2013). "Matchmaking platform LikeBright raising $1M to help singles land a 2nd date". GeekWire. Retrieved December 4, 2016.
  10. ^ Soper, Taylor (September 18, 2014). "Matchmaking platform LikeBright morphs into Reveal, a new anonymous chat app". GeekWire. Retrieved December 4, 2016.
  11. ^ "Bumble is a dating app where women take lead". Thestar. Retrieved 3 June 2015.
  12. ^ "JDate Bought JSwipe and Everyone Loves Each Other Now". Observer. 2015-10-15. Retrieved 2019-11-20.
  13. ^ "Spark Networks SE Closes Zoosk, Inc. Acquisition". finance.yahoo.com. Retrieved 2019-11-20.
  14. ^ "How Couples Meet and Stay Together | SSDS Social Science Data Collection". data.stanford.edu. Retrieved 2019-12-07.
  15. ^ "How Couples Meet and Stay Together 2017 (HCMST2017) | SSDS Social Science Data Collection". data.stanford.edu. Retrieved 2019-12-07.