What computer dating was like in the 1960s

Like many of us, I assumed online dating was a fairly recent invention — certainly something that came about post-2000, right?

But apparently that's not the case (or at least, not entirely). In a great new article, The Cut explores the history and experience of Operation Match, a computer-facilitated dating service that launched in the 1960s. Yes, really:

The form for Operation Match, the most well-known computer-dating service in the U.S., asked you to rate your own attractiveness in the eyes of the opposite sex and answer the same question for your ideal date. […] The respondents' answers were transferred onto special punch cards and fed into a rented computer, which would spit out several matches along with their phone numbers that were then mailed back to them.

At a time when many colleges were single-sex institutions and young people had to scope out prospective partners through blind dates or awkward campus mixers, computer dating was a Jetsonian proposition. And it became a hit: In its first nine months, Operation Match, founded and run by a group of Harvard undergraduates, reportedly received 90,000 applications. By 1967, Life magazine wrote that New York singles had half a dozen computer-dating services to choose from.

Later in the article, The Cut even speaks with couples who successfully found each other through computer dating programs and are still together today.

Before There Was Tinder [Hanna Kozlowska / The Cut]

Image: Don Hankins / Flickr (CC-BY-SA 2.0)