Forget dating apps, the Sixties had ''computer matchmaking''

The trend was so popular, a number of classic TV shows got in on the electronic love act.

TACT is not just a good attribute to have on a first date, it was also an acronym for Technical Automated Compatibility Testing, a computerized dating service founded in New York City in the 1960s.

Inspired by a pavilion at the 1964 World’s Fair, where a computer picked international pen pals for anyone who filled out a questionnaire, accountant Lewis Altfest wondered if the same idea could be applied to find a date in a local area. He partnered with a computer programmer friend at IBM, Robert Ross, and together they came up with TACT.

They weren’t the first to merge computers and matchmaking. A trio of Harvard students came up with a similar scheme called Operation Match and services had existed in Europe for years, but Altfest and Ross’ company was one of the most well-known.

They garnered plenty of free publicity and even threw parties in New York City parks to attract participants. With a complete questionnaire and five dollars, each person received the contact information of up to 30 potential dates over a four-month period.

Matches were made based on three levels of criteria: social and cultural factors, opinions and values, and “psychological” compatibility, which Ross defined as having “complimentary needs for each other.”

Men were asked which hairstyles they liked on women and women were asked which activities, like chopping wood at a campsite or painting at an art studio, they found most attractive in a man. Participants were also asked to choose four things they disliked from a list that included “free love,” “pseudo-intellectuals” and “rock ’n’ roll.” The questionnaires were turned into punch cards, fed into the machines which then calculated matches.

The room-sized IBM computers powering the whole endeavor were far from perfect, however. A brother and sister were matched once. Ross related to the BBC that one couple who had recently broken off their engagement found themselves linked together again by TACT. They decided it was fate and got married.

Even though computerized dating had many failings, TV shows couldn’t help but jump on the trend. In fact, the confusion created by machine matchmakers was ripe for parody in sitcoms, sci-fi shows and even police procedurals. Everything from My Three Sons to The Twilight Zone to Adam-12 had episodes revolving around computers and love.

Jethro from The Beverly Hillbillies tried computer dating as did Gomer Pyle. The newfangled courtship even made it to Hooterville in Green Acres. The trend continued into the Seventies in shows like The Odd Couple, Three’s Company and The Love Boat.

TACT fizzled out after a few years and other companies came and went over the decades. The internet added a whole new dimension to computerized dating, bringing potential matches to your desktop and now the phone in your pocket.

Even if technological advances have made the process more streamlined, the success rate hasn’t seemed to improve much.

Did you ever try a computerized matchmaking service back in the day?

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MichaelFields 3 months ago
I did try the "Computer" dating service way back in the early 80's, went out with a few fun people but nothing clicked and a couple of very strange ones where I was thinking I hope they do not find out where I live
eddiecantorfan 3 months ago
https://youtu.be/UaA2WiyqO1E
Love Theme From Romeo
And Juliet by Henry Mancini a beautiful instrumental .
nightshade eddiecantorfan 3 months ago
what do these have to do with the story?
eddiecantorfan 3 months ago
https://youtu.be/L95bykOhsVw
Anyone out there in METV
LAND Remember Witch
Doctor by David Seville of
Alvin and the Chipmunks
FAME?What s fantastic song which is dedicated to everyone who has ever tried Computer Dating !!
RichLorn 3 months ago
I tried computer dating once. I got matched with an old model with 2 floppy disks.
Lacey 3 months ago
Standard sitcom plots from the mid-sixties forward.
Tresix 4 months ago
I applied for computer dating in 1987. Got matched up with a very loving woman. The romantic relationship didn’t last, but we remained close friends until her death in 2016.
NickG 4 months ago
I had no luck, but many funny stories, about trying dating services in the 80s and 90‘s
F5Twitster 4 months ago
"Inspired by a pavilion at the 1964 World’s Fair, where a computer picked international pen pals for anyone who filled out a questionnaire, accountant Lewis Altfest wondered if the same idea could be applied to find a date in a local area."

It was the Parker Pen Pavilion. I was matched with a pen pal from Wales. The relationship, such as it was, didn't last very long because his handwriting was pretty much indecipherable. Maybe he needed a Parker pen.

https://www.worldsfairphotos.com/nywf64/images/parker-pen-1.jpg
Michael F5Twitster 4 months ago
Or a computer.
markbrents F5Twitster 3 months ago
Now HP makes computers called "Pavilion"
MarkSpeck 4 months ago
And cop shows like Felony Squad and Ironside did episodes that showed the possible danger involved in computer dating.
Jon 4 months ago
THE MOTHERS-IN-LAW, a series that MeTV carried awhile back, had an episode where son, Jerry, was working at a computer dating service run by a character played by Paul Lynde. In order to help Jerry keep his job, the two couples all filled out punch cards pretending to be of various nationalities. The computer paired each of the parents with the other spouse, and hilarity ensued.
kb7rky 4 months ago
Nope...never was sold on dating services, virtual, computer, or otherwise.
eddiecantorfan 4 months ago
https://youtu.be/dFS3j20Qbgs
Potsie (Anson Williams) singing Calendar Girl on Happy Days with Daphne
(Hillary Horan) playing the drums in Richie's band.
Deleted 4 months ago
This comment has been removed.
eddiecantorfan 4 months ago
That's Hillary Horan who played Daphne who was the third person to play the drums in Richie's band on Happy Days.
eddiecantorfan 4 months ago
https://youtu.be/RrxX-J8xp_0
Let's have a 🥁 drumroll
For Daphne who played the drums in Richie's band on Happy Days.
eddiecantorfan 4 months ago
On Green Acres there was a very funny episode about computer dating in Hooterville.
ELEANOR 4 months ago
There was even a Perry Mason episode that involved computer dating. The couple that was running the operation was actually married in real life. Of course there was a murder, a poisoned drink was consumed by the wrong person at a party.
KJExpress ELEANOR 4 months ago
I had forgotten about that episode. 📺
eddiecantorfan 4 months ago
On Gomer Pyle USMC there was
a computer dating episode
And Friendly Freddie (Sid Melton)the con artist had
Emily Hofstetter pretend to be
3 different women so that she could date Gomer Pyle Sgt
Carter and Cpl Duke Slater.
327053 eddiecantorfan 4 months ago
Great episode 😊
Moriyah eddiecantorfan 4 months ago
That one's good!
Sid Melton was most famous as Alf Monroe on Green Acres. Besides Gomer Pyle, I also saw him on an earlier eposode of Petticoat Junction (before GA existed), but I can't remember whether he was a salesman, or a con artist like Friendly Freddy.
Did you know that Sid Melton played Charlie on
Make Room For Daddy with
Danny Thomas as nightclub
Entertainer Danny Williams?
Friendly Freddie Sid Melton on Gomer Pyle USMC and
Mr Haney Pat Buttram on
Green Acres are both con
artists.
vinman63 eddiecantorfan 3 months ago
Sid Melton teamed up Caesar Romero and Hugh Beaumont in a movie called Lost Continent which show a lot of rock climbing and rubber dinosaurs.
Moriyah 4 months ago
Very interesting. I really want to try that someday!
eddiecantorfan Moriyah 4 months ago
I would like to date Daphne
Hillary Horan.
Moriyah eddiecantorfan 4 months ago
Who's Hillary Horan?
eddiecantorfan Moriyah 4 months ago
Hillary Horan is the actress
who played Daphne on the
TV show Happy Days.
Daphne was one of the persons who played the drums in Richie's band on
Happy Days.The other persons who played the drums in Richie's band were BAG Zombroski (Neil J Schwartz) Sticks Downey Jr (John Anthony Bailey) and Fonzie's cousin Chachi Areola played by Scott Baio.
Tresix eddiecantorfan 4 months ago
“Arcola”.
DocForbin 4 months ago
People tend to forget that dating sites like Match.com and Silver Singles are just the old computerized dating racket given a modern day Internet twist.
Runeshaper 4 months ago
This sounds AWESOME! I didn't know they had this sort of service and tech back then.
justjeff Runeshaper 4 months ago
Before that they had mothers, aunts and sisters trying to get you paired off and married...
Runeshaper justjeff 4 months ago
LOL So true!
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