According to a PBS infographic, a British agricultural journal was the first publication to publish personal ads.
One was written by a “gentleman about 30 years of age” who “would willingly match himself to some good young gentlewoman that has a fortune of 3000£ or thereabout, and he will make settlement to content.” That’s some real 17th-century romance right there.
In the past three decades, dating has become more of a process that can last for years before marriage is even considered.
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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.' " 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. A bulletin board system for romance started by Jon Boede and Scott Smith.
In the late 1800s, The Matrimonial News in San Francisco became the first newspaper exclusively for singles — where they could read stories about the latest romantic goings-on and post ads for a mate.
This is a timeline of online dating services that also includes broader events related to technology-assisted dating (not just online dating).