This timeline of online dating 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.
|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".|
|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 '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 questionnaire 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 's dollars."|
|1965||The New York Review of Books personals column makes a comeback. Slater writes:
|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) launches chat rooms for dating (using the Minitel network) started by Marc Simoncini. France.|
|1982||Jens Jürgen founded Travel Companion Exchange, the first travel partner matching service.|
|1986||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 an 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||Yid.com launched as the first Jewish dating service and the first dating site in South Africa.||Web|
|1995||Match.com launches. Started by Gary Kremen.|
|1997||JDate launches dating service targeted at Jewish singles|
|1997||Shaadi.com launches. It is an online wedding service founded by Anupam Mittal in 1997. October 1998, Sanjeev Bikhchandani, founder and executive vice chairman of Info Edge India, started the matrimonial website|
|1998||Jeevansathi.com launches. October 1998, Sanjeev Bikhchandani, founder and executive vice chairman of Info Edge India, started the matrimonial website.|
|1999||Gaydar launches. Founded in November 1999 by London-based South Africans Gary Frisch and his partner Henry Badenhorst, the website was once the world's most popular gay online dating site it grew into a portfolio of websites and an award-winning radio station.||Web later App|
|2000||eHarmony launches. Online dating service for long-term relationships.|
|2000||BharatMatrimony launches. Murugavel Janakiraman started the BharatMatrimony website in 2000 while working as a software consultant for Lucent Technologies in Edison, N.J. In the late 1990s he set up a Tamil community web portal, which included matrimonial ads. He started BharatMatrimony after noticing the matrimonial ads generated most of his web traffic|
|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||PlanetRomeo is launched as GayRomeo in October 2002 initially only available in German but now available in 6 languages. The majority of the sites users are based in Europe.||Web later App|
|2002||Dudesnude is launched as a networking site for gay men. The company slogan is "picture, video, and profile sharing for men!"||Web|
|2002||Ashley Madison is launched as a networking service for extramarital relationships.|
|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".|
|2006||Spark Networks, owner of niche dating sites like Jdate and Christian Mingle, goes public.|
|2006||Badoo launches as a dating-focused social networking service|
|2006||SeekingArrangement launches. A sugar daddy/sugar baby site in the US.|
|2006||MeetMoi launches the first location based dating application||Web later App|
|2007||Skout launches. A "location-based social networking and dating application and website".|
|2007||ScientificMatch.com launches, claiming to match people with complementary immune systems.|
|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".|
|2009||Grindr launches, focusing on gay, bi and trans people.||App|
|2009||VIDA Select launches, online matchmaking platform using virtual assistants.|
|2010||Scruff launches, focussing on gay, bisexual, and transgender men, adding in 2013 a HIV-positive community.||App|
|2011||LikeBright launches. Online dating site by Nick Soman. By 2014 the site shut down.||Web|
|2011||Dating group Spark Networks acquires Senior Singles Meet (formerly PrimeSingles) and changes the name to SilverSingles|
|2011 (July)||Momo, a Chinese social search and instant messaging app launches.|
|2011 (September)||Blendr, designed to connect like-minded people, launches.|
|2012(?)||Highlight launches. Slater calls it a "location-based dating app".||App|
|2012||Hinge launches, an app 'designed to be deleted'||App|
|2013||Pure launches on the App Store||App|
|2014 (Passover)||JSwipe launches. A dating app for Jewish millennials.||App|
|2014||Bristlr launches, facilitating communication between bearded men and women who love beards.|
|2014 (July)||3nder starts facilitating communication between people interested in polyamory, kink, swinging, and other alternative sexual preferences.|
|2014 (September)||Spoonr starts facilitating communication between strangers who live within walking distance from each other.|
|2014 (December)||Bumble launches, a location-based mobile app that permits only women to start a chat with their matches.|
|2015||Personal information of Ashley Madison users stolen and released.|
|2015||Huggle starts connecting users based on commonality of places they frequent.|
|2015||Yellow, a Tinder for teens, launches in France and in 2017 in the US.|
|2015||Jdate owners Spark Networks Inc buy JSwipe from Smooch Labs.|
|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.|
|2019||FuckFinder launches the first location based dating application||Web later App|
|2020||Spark dating app launches in Canada with a focus on creative matchmaking||App|
Dominance of online dating
A 2017 survey by Michael J. Rosenfeld, updated in 2021, tracked the change in how Americans meet their spouses and romantic partners since 1940. The results indicated a significant increase in the proportion of couples whose first interaction occurred through online media, with 39% of heterosexual couples and 65% of same-sex couples meeting this way as of 2021. However, these broad statistics are mutually inclusive, capturing all online interactions and not solely those initiated through dating apps. When the data is refined to 'meeting through dating apps,' the percentage narrows to approximately 10%. 
A Pew Research study corroborated these findings, reporting that 28% of straight and 52% of LGB Americans have used dating apps or sites. Yet, only 9% of straight adults and 24% of LGB adults reported meeting their match online. Similar trends were noted in a 2021 study by Morning Consult, which showed that the percentage of individuals who met their partners through online dating increased from 10% in 2018 to 13% in 2021, potentially influenced by the Covid-19 pandemic. A multinational study by YouGov also revealed that the average percentage of couples meeting through an app across 17 countries was 8%, with the U.S. standing at the same rate.
In summary, while a substantial 49% of adults using dating apps claim to be searching for exclusive romantic relationships, the actual formation of such relationships through dating apps is considerably lower. Only 8-13% of straight couples and 24% of lesbian, gay, or bisexual couples meet through these platforms.
- Slater, Dan. A Million First Dates.
- Hicks, Marie (2016). "Computer Love: Replicating Social Order Through Early Computer Dating Systems". Ada: A Journal 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.
- admin (2018-05-23). "Travel Chums". Brickell Magazine. Retrieved 2023-08-06.
- Slater, Dan.
- Gelsi, Steve. "Spark Networks files $75 million IPO". MarketWatch. Retrieved 2019-11-20.
- Smith, Kevin. "Check Out MeetMoi, The Dating App That Has Quietly Reached 3 Million Users". Business Insider. Retrieved 2022-08-03.
- Arrington, Michael (July 22, 2008). "Ok, We Have Our First DNA-Based Dating Service: GenePartner". TechCrunch. Retrieved December 4, 2016.
- "I Employed a Team of 'Virtual Dating Assistants' to Manage My Online Love Life". www.vice.com. 14 November 2014. Retrieved 2022-09-19.
- Soper, Taylor (December 20, 2013). "Matchmaking platform LikeBright raising $1M to help singles land a 2nd date". GeekWire. Retrieved December 4, 2016.
- Soper, Taylor (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. 28 April 2015. Retrieved 3 June 2015.
- "JDate Bought JSwipe and Everyone Loves Each Other Now". Observer. 2015-10-15. Retrieved 2019-11-20.
- "Spark Networks SE Closes Zoosk, Inc. Acquisition". finance.yahoo.com. Retrieved 2019-11-20.
- Hua, Eugene. "FuckFinder is a dating app where couple take lead". Retrieved 2021-10-11.
- "Spark Networks Launches 'Creativity-Focused' Dating App 'Spark'". Global Dating Insights. 2020-06-25. Retrieved 2021-01-22.
- "How Couples Meet and Stay Together | SSDS Social Science Data Collection". data.stanford.edu. Retrieved 2019-12-07.
- "How Couples Meet and Stay Together 2017 (HCMST2017) | SSDS Social Science Data Collection". data.stanford.edu. Retrieved 2019-12-07.
- Atske, Sara (2023-02-02). "From Looking for Love to Swiping the Field: Online Dating in the U.S." Pew Research Center: Internet, Science & Tech. Retrieved 2023-09-17.
- "Spurred On by COVID-19, Millennials Lead the Way in Destigmatizing Online Dating". Morning Consult Pro. Retrieved 2023-09-17.
- "A global look at who has found love through an app | YouGov". yougov.co.uk. Retrieved 2023-09-17.
- "What Americans think about dating apps | YouGov". today.yougov.com. Retrieved 2023-09-17.
- "How Straight and Gay Couples Meet: Statistics [LGBT] | Dating Armory". 2023-09-05. Retrieved 2023-09-17.