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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.

1800s: Aristocrats Catch On Always on the lookout for ways to exploit media for their own ends, aristocrats in the 1800s used personal ads to broadcast their interest in romantic engagements that seem scandalous by today's standards.

An 1841 ad in the Journal of Munich tells of a 70-year-old Baron seeking a woman "between 16 and 20 having good teeth and little feet." (Well...

) Mid 1800s: The General Public Follows In the mid-19th century, the need to advertise for a husband or wife was still considered a "failure" and associated with deviant behavior for many judgmental straight, white, middle-to-upper class people.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.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.

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