Even before the Web itself, bulletin boards and newsgroups hosted a variety of ways people could use technology to meet others with similar interests, including dating.Services such as America Online, Prodigy and eventually Craigslist offered chat rooms, forums and online classifieds of use to singles.
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Less-Than-Fun fact: homosexuality was outlawed and punishable by death in the UK by wife-murderer Henry VIII and continued to be illegal until 1967. A., anyone accused of being a "sodomite" doing "buggery" was also legally sentenced to death as of 1776.) Coded words, female names and other signals in personals were channels to privately expressing vulnerability and find companionship that society forbade.
During this time, gathering sites for gay men known as Molly Houses were subject to regular raids by law enforcement. 1727: Women Get Smacked Down for Expressing Personal Desire In 1727, Englishwoman Helen Morrison became the first woman to place an ad in a Lonely Hearts column.
One of the earliest personals ever placed was by a 30-year-old man, with "a very good estate', announcing he was in search of 'some good young gentlewoman that has a fortune of £3,000 or thereabouts." (£3,000 is equivalent to roughly £300,000 today.
#Shamelessly Seeking Sugar Momma...) 1700s: Personal Ads for Homosexual Safety Personal ads were one of the only ways for the gay and lesbian communities to meet discreetly and safely at this time.
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But as magazines and periodicals such as The Wedding Bell in the US and The Correspondent, Matrimonial Herald and Marriage Gazette in the UK hit the newsstands with immense popularity, matchmaking and personals took off as well, creating the first wave of true mainstream normalization for the personal ad.
Late 1800s: The Scam Emerges You know, someone's always got to ruin the party.
Like the Internet today, lonely hearts ads were suspected of harboring all sort of scams and perversities.