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.
Late 1800s: The Scam Emerges You know, someone's always got to ruin the party.
One of the earliest personals ever placed was by a 30-year-old man, with "a very good estate', announcing he was in search of 'some good young gentlewoman that has a fortune of £3,000 or thereabouts." (£3,000 is equivalent to roughly £300,000 today.
#Shamelessly Seeking Sugar Momma...) 1700s: Personal Ads for Homosexual Safety Personal ads were one of the only ways for the gay and lesbian communities to meet discreetly and safely at this time.
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.
(Farmers Only continues the legacy to find "where all the country girls are" today.) Some very pragmatic examples of early 20th century personals: HOUSEKEEPER: 18 to 30 years of age, wanted by widower, 40.
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.....
For , users could answer questionnaires and receive a list of potential matches, a process that is still used by many dating sites.
1990s-2000s: Second Wave of Mainstream The explosion of the Internet in the mid-to-late 1990s created a new context for personals, and by the end of the decade, they had become relatively acceptable.