A Brief History of Vintage Matchmaking

We are an obsessed culture, and there are few things we tend to fixate on more than finding love. Over 41 million people in the United States have attempted to find a partner through online dating — a billion-dollar industry that banks on our desire for a connection. But services like OkCupid, Tinder, and Match.com weren’t the first computer-based dating platforms — or the first matchmakers. We spotted eight vintage matchmaking devices and services that demonstrate how dating was done before the age of the Internet.

sweethearts

In 1955, a small German town was blinded by science when they experimented with a mechanical matchmaking device, dubbed a “slot machine for sweethearts.” Due to a shortage of men (gasp), the machine promised to simplify dating with a few gears and the help of a “love-agent.” The automat contained photos of potential male suitors, accompanied by a detailed description of his life and likes. The women would take that to a company liaison who revealed more information and helped arrange a date. The whole process cost 50 cents. We’re tickled that the below photo of the “love-agent” resembles a James Bond supervillain.

agent