Long before eHarmony or even The Love Connection, there was Operation Match, a compatibility program created by two Harvard undergraduates, Vaughan Morrill and Jeff Tarr, during a bull session in 1965. They devised a questionnaire to use for matching people up - asking everything from physical characteristics to reactions to hypothetical situations.
The two students later formed a company, Compatibility Research Inc., and hired a computer science student in a Harvard math class to write the programming code to match up questionnaires that had complementary answers. The company rented time on a room-size IBM computer on the campus, which was expensive but provided credibility and a great marketing tool.
They ended up with about 7,800 respondents - each paying a $3 matchmaking fee. It was a kind of fad at the time in the area. By the third year, its popularity had faded considerably.
Then, as now, too, I suspect, the human factor was what the program could not overcome. Ugly people were rating themselves attractive. Attractive people were rating themselves ugly. And when the computer did find an honest-to-goodness "perfect match," it still could not compensate for the strange way we humans pick mates. (How many of your past partners would meet the laundry list you would get a dating service, after all? People either click or they don't - regardless of what we are seeking in others.)
Attraction is an imperfect science for sure.
But the idea itself was way ahead of its time. Twenty years to be exact. In the 1980s, with the rise of the Internet, a new wave of imitators came using basically the same model - compatibility matching using questionnaires.