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After I finished, I moved to the couch in the empty living room and sat under the flat overhead light refreshing feeds on my laptop. As the only man and the only woman alone at the bar, we looked at each other. He handed me his mobile and pointed to a Facebook post. When I moved in, the receipt for the blanket was on the mantelpiece. At night the room had the temperature and pallor of a corpse. I returned to my mobile and opened OK Cupid, the free internet dating service. ‘Tattoos are a big part of my friends’ and family’s life,’ he wrote. I sat on a stool at the centre of the bar, ordered a beer, and refreshed the feeds on my mobile. A basketball game played on several monitors at once. I allowed myself a moment’s longing for my living room and its couch.It turned out that Kremen had once driven, or been driven, into the river. In Miami Kremen recounted the genesis of his ideas about internet dating to a room full of matchmakers. If he could create such a database and charge a fee to access it, he would most probably turn a profit.In 1992, he was a 29-year-old computer scientist and one of the many graduates of Stanford Business School running software companies in the Bay Area. In 1992, that couldn’t be done – modems transmitted information too slowly.Since Kremen started his company little has changed in the industry.
At the time, single people, particularly those over the age of 30, were still seen as a stigmatised group with which few wanted to associate.‘American business has long understood that people knock the doors down for dignified and effective services that fulfil these most powerful human needs.’ Kremen eventually removed ‘sex’ from his list of needs, but many of the basic parts of most online dating sites were laid out in this early document.Subscribers completed a questionnaire, indicating the kind of relationship they wanted – ‘marriage partner, steady date, golf partner or travel companion’.But the age at which Americans marry was rising steadily and the divorce rate was high.A more mobile workforce meant that single people often lived in cities they didn’t know and the chummy days when a father might set his daughter up with a junior colleague were over.