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The couple from California are among the first in history to have gone on an online date – and, two decades later, have a long, happy marriage to show for it.“I had just broken up with somebody and I decided, aged 53, that maybe it was time to get married,” says Freddie.
Giving your preferences to a faceless machine, on the other hand, is far less awkward.
is not only the most popular dating website on the planet; it’s the granddaddy of them all.
This year, it celebrates its 20th anniversary – marking two decades since a little start-up suggested that Cupid’s arrow might strike through a screen. Its users are spread across 40 countries and exchange 415 million emails a year.
Reclining on a purple velvet throne, inside his castle – a sixth-floor office in a grey tower block in central London – Karl Gregory is reeling off some of his favourite statistics. ” He whisks a print-out from a pile of papers on his desk and prods a blurry image in the middle.
“517,000 relationships, 92,000 marriages and around a million babies,” he grins. It’s a picture of a customer’s baby scan under the words: “all thanks to Match.com”.
“It’s amazing to have been a pioneer of something that is now so normal,” she says.
Though early users were taking a gamble by signing up to the site, the real leap of faith in Match.com’s history took place on December 27, 1992.
“Not only are they risky, but they are ineffective.” So he created a 170-point questionnaire, covering users’ horoscopes, their preferred mode of transport, taste in music, cleanliness, condition of their hair and how often they participated in dangerous sports.
He called it the “Electronic Matchmaker” and uploaded to his private internet database (called a “usenet”) just after Christmas 1992.
They messaged for a few days by fax and email before speaking on the phone, and then went on their first date to a Chinese restaurant in 1996.
Freddie wasn’t technical enough to upload a picture, so Bill had no idea what she looked like - which was relatively common in the early days.
In one corner is a cluster of Hallmark-red sofas; romantic slogans adorn a board above the photocopier.