The Internet was being used as a source for dating connections almost from its point of inception. Even before the creation of the first Online Dating site, bulletin board services and newsgroups played host to a number of Internet dating activities, even though this may not have been the original intention or purpose. Over and above these newsgroups and forums created for posting of personal ads, localized groups of singles were meeting face-to-face to discuss opinions with those who held similar interests. The opportunity to attend these group discussions was very much facilitated by the Internet and the Internet service providers themselves.As early as the 1980′s services such as Prodigy and America Online provided chat rooms and forums for singles and massively marketed these features. As a result, even before the Internet became widely used, it had a booming, though perhaps technically limited, dating culture.It is widely believed that the first major Internet Dating Web site was a combination of kiss.com and match.com. These websites were both registered by the same individual in 1994 and 1995 respectively. It’s important to point out that there were other dating sites developing around this same time, though most of these focused on international pairing and had more in common with the traditional “mail order bride” services than the true Online Dating sites we have come to know today.In 1995 the Online Dating market place expanded extremely rapidly. By early 1996 there were 16 popular dating websites listed on Yahoo’s search facility, which was a simple directory at the time. Other industry powerhouses such as Friendfinder.com and OneandOnly.com launched services in mid 1996 and much more was to eventuate over the coming two years.In 1998, the concept of Online Dating received what is bet described as a cultural boost with the release of the film “You’ve Got Mail”. The movie, which reunited “Sleepless in Seattle’s” Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan, centered on two entrepreneurial adversaries who held an extreme dislike for each other in person but fell in love over the Internet. Despite the fact that the movie didn’t focus on Internet dating directly, it established the notion of meeting someone online in a positive light and showcased the Web as a means of bringing people together.Surfing a wave of growing public approval, Match.com and OneandOnly.com were acquired by the corporation Ticketmaster Online-City Search for what remains an undisclosed sum. This single event provided the industry legitimacy and caused the major Internet players, including both Yahoo and AOL, to develop Online Dating facilities of their own. The general effect on the industry could be defined as a “snowballing”, especially during the dot-com boom of the late 1990′s and early 2000′s when there were several high-profile dating site acquisitions costing into the millions.The rapid growth had a setback however, as with most juvenile Internet-based businesses at the time, the dot-com crash in 2001/2002 brought much of the hysteria to a climax and changed the face of the online world forever. For the Online Dating industry the next significant change came more from the launch of Friendster and MySpace in 2002. It was here that the notion of online “social networking” was created and Online Dating surreptitiously became a byproduct of this culture also. For the first time individuals could meet potential partners on the Internet without going to a website dedicated specifically to the cause. The concept of social networking carried with it minimal stigma as it was also being used by those not seeking a relationship at all.With the growing wave of social networking, which included the creation of Facebook in early 2004, online dating has continued to prosper. It’s believed that in 2007 alone, Americans spent over $500 million on Online Dating sites. Globally this figure would have reached into the billions, making it the second highest earner for “paid content” on the Internet, trailing only behind the pornography industry.The current Online Dating industry has changed significantly from the days of early monopolization. The market is now segmented into numerous websites offering specific services and features to ever-smaller niche audiences. Online Dating sites have become specific to locals or regions, sexual orientations, relationship types, religious persuasions, even race and individual hobbies have dedicated sites.In 2010 it was estimated that nearly 22 million people visit at least one Online Dating site each and every month. This isn’t even taking into account those who chose to hold profiles or memberships on numerous sites. It has also been estimated that as many as 120,000 marriages take place each year with, at least in part, some influence from the Online Dating Industry.