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Not only could you send a message to your friend via a newfangled technology dubbed “e-mail” (granted, the concept of e-mail wasn’t exactly newfangled at the time, though widespread public access to it was).
You could also join any of Compu Serve’s thousands of discussion forums to yap with thousands of other members on virtually any important subject of the day.
And it ensured there were plenty of ways to discover those bonds.
An interface that shared many of the same traits one would find at an online dating site certainly didn’t seem to hurt.
Long before it became the commercialized mass information and entertainment juggernaut it is today, long before it was accessible to the general public, and certainly many years before Al Gore claimed he “took the initiative in creating” it, the Internet – and its predecessors – were a focal point for social interactivity.
Granted, computer networking was initially envisioned in the heyday of The Beatles as a military-centric command and control scheme.
But if there is a true precursor to today’s social networking sites, it was likely spawned under the AOL (America Online) umbrella.
But as it expanded beyond just a privileged few hubs and nodes, so too did the idea that connected computers might also make a great forum for discussing mutual topics of interest, and perhaps even meeting or renewing acquaintances with other humans. Related: Mullets reigned supreme in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s; computers were a far rarer commodity.
Machine languages were bewildering, and their potential seemingly limited.
Friendster CEO Jonathan Abrams even once referred to his creation as a dating site that isn’t about dating.
Within a year after its launch, Friendster boasted more than three million registered users and a ton of investment interest.