Operation Match

Blame it on HAL.

In 1965 some of us paid three bucks each and entrusted our romantic fantasies to a computer dating service, Operation Match, which played Cupid for us. It was the brainchild of three Harvard entrepreneurs, with the assistance of one Douglas Ginsburg from Cornell (who later became Chief Judge of the D.C. Circuit Court, and whose pot smoking led to withdrawal from consideration for a US Supreme Court slot in the Reagan era). We were among 8000 Operation Match guinea pigs who answered 135 questions about sex, religion and other sensitive matters for compatibility purposes. The matching system involved transferring information from the questionnaires to punch cards for computer processing. Within a week or two, an IBM 1401 print out arrived in the mail listing the names and telephone numbers of our matches. Was it successful? Certainly many first dates ensued. Did female participants ever ask males out as a result? Or did tradition invariably prevail once the cutting-edge technology of the time had done its thing?

Comments welcome! Care to share your experience(s) with Operation Match?

One thought on “Operation Match

  1. I was one of those guinea pigs. Much to my surprise one of my three matches was someone I had dated from mount Holyoke. I liked her a lot but at the time I received my match list she had already decided that the feeling was not mutual. Never tried to rekindle the relationship by reference to Watson’s great grandfather.

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