Computer Dating Santa Clara U – 1977- first computer dating

Engineering Students  Invent Computer Dating: Santa Clara University  1977

Michael and Richard were classic Computer Science majors. They spent an inordinate amount of time in the computer lab in 1977.

The terms ‘geek’ and ‘nerd’ had not yet been created, they were called ‘brainiacs’ or ‘square’ by other guys in the dorm.

Michael was on scholarship and was always devising moneymaking schemes. ‘Kegger Bingo’ was a hit until a RA busted the party. Cupid must have played a part when the two guys decided to throw a dance with computer-matched dates. They conjured up a few algorithms and a dozen questions and, voila, they could promote a ‘matchmaking-dance.’ Cleverly, they made the boy’s cards blue and the girl’s cards pink.

Each person would pay five dollars, fill out a rudimentary questionnaire and bingo, the computer would match up couples for the dance. At first, the two-glad scientists were daunted and frustrated; eventually they felt very confident with the computer matching.

I’ve got rhythm – you’ve got algorithm

An ad in the school paper and bulletin boards plastered with colorful flyers promoted the unique first time ever, “Dance: Computer Matched Dates.” Monday morning, tons of girls lined up, money in hand, romance in mind. The boys, slower on the uptake, joined the fray; by Wednesday there were over 100 paid customers.

Saturday night, over 50 couples would be dancing to the Eagles, Marvin Gaye, Boz Scaggs and the Commodores.

All the cassettes were organized; soon the two guys would be a couple hundred dollars richer.

The Big Night

Leaving their pocket protectors at home, clad in freshly ironed jeans, flip-flops, and clean T-shirts, the boys walked towards the gym. Richard proudly carried the box of punch cards of perfectly matched couples. He didn’t see the traffic cone, tripped, and the cards flew from the cardboard box scattering on the ground.

The cards went from perfectly coupled to complete chaos. In a panic, the two scooped up the cards-there wasn’t time to do anything but show up at the gym and distribute the pink and blue cards – with confidence and straight faces.

The line to get into the dance snaked down the Rose Garden path.

Students were laughing and the nervous energy was palpable. Their pal, Clyde, played DJ and music swelled as the cards were handed out. Only two men knew the whole truth about matchmaking.

Success? Ask Punky and Pat – fatefully, they met that night and were married Senior year. Serendipity or science?

“It ain’t no sin if you crack a few laws now and then, just so long as you don’t break any.” Mae West


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