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Singles Seek Romance Via Computer Bulletin Boards

February 11, 1988

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ Not all love notes will arrive by mail, floral delivery or singing telegram this Valentine’s Day. The high-tech Cupid of the ’80s can now sling his amorous arrows via modems and microchips.

Computer bulletin boards with names like the Affection Connection, Fantasy Plaza, Dial-Your-Match, Luv Connection and Secret Partner offer adult users matchmaking, anonymous advice and other social services.

″You call into the bulletin board and all of a sudden it’s a dating service or a friend-making service,″ said David Cornell, 25. For up to 10 minutes a night, he types and receives electronic messages via his home computer through the Affection Connection.

″Find your long-awaited sweetheart″ promises advertising for Secret Partner in a California computer magazine. The Affection Connection’s ad offers ‴Matchmaking’ to help find that special person″ and a way to leave private messages ″for whispering your sweet nothings.″

The Affection Connection will celebrate its first anniversary on Valentine’s Day. System operator Devin Woods expects another heavy Feb. 14th of electronic love letters, passion poetry, and party invitations.

″There was a lot of Valentine’s Day messages going through that day. It was busier than normal,″ said Woods, recalling 1987. ″There were a lot of one or two-line messages. People writing poems to one girl and then posting it on the bulletin board for public view.″

″In an age of anonymous sex, it’s better if people use a keyboard than a bedboard,″ said Dan Brenner, head of the communications law department at the University of California, Los Angeles, and co-author of a recent journal article on computer bulletin boards.

Those dialing the Affection Connection’s central computer from home terminals via a telephone modem first type answers to an electronic questionnaire that members scan to find electronic pen pals who look interesting.

Members, who pay a nominal fee to join and only phone company rates each time they call, can leave private messages or ″chat″ via typed messages with others plugged into the bulletin board at the same time.

″Basically you type back and forth before you meet them. You get to be fairly familiar, what they like and what they don’t like,″ said Cornell. ″You can fantasize. You wonder what he or she looks like. Then you meet them and they’re completely different. Nobody looks like what you think they will.″

Sherri Swope, 19, who said her bulletin board contacts have led to dates, said she prefers electronic chatting to personal introductions. ″You get more of an idea of what they’re like. You don’t let looks or personality get in the way.″

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