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“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.

is not only the most popular dating website on the planet; it’s the granddaddy of them all.

This year, it celebrates its 20th anniversary – marking two decades since a little start-up suggested that Cupid’s arrow might strike through a screen. Its users are spread across 40 countries and exchange 415 million emails a year.

Dedicated to verified college students and alumni (via education database). Alumni cannot initiate or respond to contact or post status updates.

“Try this experiment next time you’re out for dinner with a group of friends,” suggests Gregory, who is Match.com’s UK manager and European director.

They messaged for a few days by fax and email before speaking on the phone, and then went on their first date to a Chinese restaurant in 1996.

Freddie wasn’t technical enough to upload a picture, so Bill had no idea what she looked like - which was relatively common in the early days.

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

Giving your preferences to a faceless machine, on the other hand, is far less awkward.

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