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These kinds of ads were especially fashionable among lonely soldiers during World War I.1960s: Counterculture and Computer Love Removed from the context of wartime, old stigmas crept back in.
Because they were often used by homosexuals and sex workers, British police continued to prosecute those who placed personals until the late 1960s, when ads became part of the burgeoning youth counterculture. In 1965, a team of Harvard undergrads created Operation Match, the world's first computer dating service.
The popularity of personals paved the way for grifters who soon realized that they could prey on the vulnerability of people seeking love.
Scam artists caused a scandal that many newspapers ran with, and personals disappeared practically overnight as public attitudes became more cautious.
1920s: Lonely WWI Soldiers Seek Pen Pals Personal ads went mainstream again in the early 20th century, when social pressures to get married by 21 (and thus, expectations for relationships) were much lower, thankfully than their earlier incarnations.
Many of the postings were simply calls for friends or pen pals.