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...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.But as magazines and periodicals such as The Wedding Bell in the US and The Correspondent, Matrimonial Herald and Marriage Gazette in the UK hit the newsstands with immense popularity, matchmaking and personals took off as well, creating the first wave of true mainstream normalization for the personal ad.
Have prominent position with the rail company, have 75-acre ranch also house in town; object matrimony if suited; have boy 13 years old, would not object to housekeeper having child. Young woman, reared in luxury, having lost everything and earned her living for the past eight years, is tired of teaching and wishes a home: would like to meet a well-to-do businessman who would appreciate refinement and affection in a wife. If only these two had found each other's personals then.....She convinced the editor of the Manchester Weekly Journal to place a small ad stating she was "seeking someone nice to spend her life with." (It's radical, I know.....) A man responded to Helen, but it was not the man she was hoping for.It was the mayor, who had her Women asking for what they want -- clearly delusional to 18th century dudes.maybe not that much has changed for the one percent?) 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.Before the Internet, there were personal ads, and before that, lonely shepherds carved detailed works of art into tree bark to communicate their longing for human contact.Since the earliest days of mass media and technology, people have been finding ways to broadcast their desires and find connections that might have otherwise eluded them.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.These kinds of ads were especially fashionable among lonely soldiers during World War I.1960s: Counterculture and Computer Love Removed from the context of wartime, old stigmas crept back in.