The operators who made this possible in the Anglo-American world tended to be women.

The machines, on the other hand, were coded as masculine and aligned with the male innovators who designed them.

It explores the mid-twentieth century origins of computer dating and matchmaking in order to argue for the importance of using sexuality as a lens of analysis in the history of computing.

“There are fewer and fewer operations today that a man can do which a well educated computer cannot do faster and more accurately,” a columnist in the London Times wrote, synthesizing the growing anxiety about computers in the culture at large.

Newspaper articles, which referred to computers as “giant brains” early on, often fanned the flames of competition between man and machine by comparing what a computer could do in a certain amount of time with what a person could do.

Much of the historiography of gender in computing relies on an implicit understanding of the power of heteronormativity in structuring women’s lives and careers.

Up to this point, however, historians of computing have paid relatively little attention to the ways in which sexuality molded outcomes and determined patterns of change in the history of computing.

The article connects this history to other examples in the history of technology that show how technological systems touted as “revolutionary” often help entrenched structural biases proliferate rather than breaking them down.

The article also upsets the notion that computer dating systems can simply be understood as a version of the “boys and their toys” narrative that has dominated much of computing history.It shows that, contrary to what was previously believed, the first computerized dating system in either the US or the UK was run by a woman.For Valentine’s Day, 1961, the cartoonist Charles Addams—of Addams Family fame—drew a futuristic cover for the New Yorker.The tape reels were so high, he related, that if a woman operator reached up to change them it might “might snap her bra straps!” But the reason LEO’s computer operator jobs were earmarked for men had everything to do with the particular career opportunities they afforded, rather than having anything to do with women’s needs.Today, the idea of being matched with a potential romantic partner via computer has been normalized to the point of seeming quotidian.