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Subscribers completed a questionnaire, indicating the kind of relationship they wanted – ‘marriage partner, steady date, golf partner or travel companion’.

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).

At the time, single people, particularly those over the age of 30, were still seen as a stigmatised group with which few wanted to associate.But the age at which Americans marry was rising steadily and the divorce rate was high.In 2011 they sold the company for million to IAC, the corporation that now owns Match.Like Match, OK Cupid has its users fill out a questionnaire.’ The Zumbro flows south of Minneapolis past Rochester, home of the Mayo Clinic. ’ Then he had another idea: what if he had a database of all the single women in the world?

It turned out that Kremen had once driven, or been driven, into the river. In Miami Kremen recounted the genesis of his ideas about internet dating to a room full of matchmakers. If he could create such a database and charge a fee to access it, he would most probably turn a profit.

They rented an office in a basement in San Francisco and registered the domain ‘ROMANCE – LOVE – SEX – MARRIAGE AND RELATIONSHIPS’ read the headline on an early business plan Electric Classifieds presented to potential investors.

‘American business has long understood that people knock the doors down for dignified and effective services that fulfil these most powerful human needs.’ Kremen eventually removed ‘sex’ from his list of needs, but many of the basic parts of most online dating sites were laid out in this early document.

A more mobile workforce meant that single people often lived in cities they didn’t know and the chummy days when a father might set his daughter up with a junior colleague were over.

Since Kremen started his company little has changed in the industry.

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.