Decades before Match.com and OkCupid there existed a different sort of online interaction that millions participated in.
The 1960s gave us many gifts. Psychedelia and New Journalism, civil rights and the Velvet Underground, JFK and the sexual revolution. The last gift spawned something else entirely -- the 1960s introduced us to computer dating.
Yes, you read that correctly. Computer dating. Decades before Match.com, OkCupid, and Craigslist there existed a different sort of online interaction. The 1960s sport carried many of the same hazards and thrills as virtual matchmaking today. Computers did exist in the '60s, in some form -- not personal computers, but computers nonetheless. These machines could crunch the numbers on our personalities and spit out intimate matches. Sites like OkCupid perform a similar service now, only with more pictures, interactivity, and complexity.
But in the 1960s, what was known as "computer dating" involved no Internet and often few to no visuals. People submitted their vital stats along with questionnaires by mail. Not e-mail, of course, but old-fashioned, stamp-licking mail. No instant gratification followed. People waited patiently for days, weeks, and months as companies processed their answers on intelligence, attractiveness, quirks, and preferences, and would perhaps find them matches ... the hope for true love. The questionnaire model dated back to the Scientific Marriage Foundation in 1957 and flourished throughout the '60s and '70s. Any time of profound social change calls for a good date.