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In more administrative fields, however, a growing number of women had email. He left his job, hired some programmers with his credit card, and created an email-based dating service.

Users posted photos: ‘A customer could choose to show himself in various favourite activities and clothing to give the viewing customer a stronger sense of personality and physical character.’The business plan cited a market forecast that suggested 50 per cent of the adult population would be single by 2000 (a 2008 poll found 48 per cent of American adults were single, compared to 28 per cent in 1960).Like many visionary entrepreneurs, Kremen doesn’t have very good management skills.His life has passed through periods of grave disarray.In 2011 they sold the company for $50 million to IAC, the corporation that now owns Match.Like Match, OK Cupid has its users fill out a questionnaire.Then that sounded depressing, so I finally wrote: ‘I like watching nature documentaries and eating pastries.’ From then on I was flooded with suggestions of You Tube videos of endangered species and recommendations for pain au chocolat.

OK Cupid was founded in 2004 by four maths majors from Harvard who were good at giving away things people were used to paying for (study guides, music).

He turned his back to me to watch the monitor over the pool tables, where the pool players now applauded some exploit. That night I scrolled until I found a handsome man who had written a benign invitation: ‘Let’s get a drink.’ I looked at his profile. The man generally held responsible for internet dating as we know it today is a native of Illinois called Gary Kremen, but Kremen was out of the internet dating business altogether by 1997, just around the time people were signing up for the internet en masse.

Today he runs a solar energy financing company, is an elected official in Los Altos Hills, California and is better known for his protracted legal battle over the ownership of the pornography website than he is for inventing internet dating.

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.

Then I pretended to watch the game on a monitor that allowed me to look the other way. I refreshed the feed that indicated whether other people in the neighbourhood were sitting alone in bars. An OK Cupid Locals invitation has to start with the word ‘Let’s’:‘Let’s go now you and I’ always comes into my mind, but I’ve never broadcast an OK Cupid chat signal, I just respond. Every era has its own utopian possibilities: ours is the chance to make our lives more bearable through technology.

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.