Biggest online dating

In one corner is a cluster of Hallmark-red sofas; romantic slogans adorn a board above the photocopier.

There are hearts everywhere – from the pendant on an employee’s necklace to the novelty fruit bowl.

“It was very limited back then – most of the men on it were so old, they could have been my father.

I was about ready to give up, and then Bill came along.” Bill had been on seven dates by the time he got an email from Freddie.

Eric Klien, a Las Vegas-based entrepreneur, had spent six months pondering the dilemma of dating.

“Traditional methods of courting and flirting are risky generally,” he wrote at the time.

“I was worried that people would think I couldn’t get a boyfriend normally. Things were different, too – I didn’t have a laptop and certainly didn’t have internet on my phone, so I was logging on in my lunch break at work.” Then, Jane, a 28-year-old travel saleswoman from Twickenham, west London, came across Andreas Palikiras, an olive-skinned marketing manager from Corfu.

Having web access at home – like owning a mobile phone - was considered quite exotic. It promised a clever algorithm, which used character traits and interests to pair users with their perfect partner. At first, online dating occupied a seedy corner of the internet, ranking in people’s minds just above red light services.The first users of were a motley bunch: all of them tentative; some optimistic, others outright weirdos.Bill and Freddie Straus, aged 76 and 72, fall into the first category.Match.com’s buyer was Gary Kremen, a Silicon Valley entrepreneur frustrated by the amount of money he was spending on 1-900 dating hotlines.He purchased for ,500 (£1,650) and launched it as a dating service on the open internet in 1995.

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“In person, it is uncomfortable to ask a lot of questions up front,” he says.

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