Computers help with fashion and dating 1962 style

Under the Wellian heading ‘The Shape of Things to Come,’ and following a few pithy Orwellian observations, the Computer Bulletin of June 1962 calls our attention to the pressing needs of predicting future fashion.

‘”Look” magazine have called in the help of a UNIVAC computer to predict women’s fashion for 1987,’ it says. From a study of evening dress from the previous 25 years, ‘major trends were separated from transitory style characteristics and 13 categories of measurement were evolved.’

Apparently UNIVAC ‘took 40 minutes to come up with conclusions that would have taken the human brain, with the aid of a desk calculator, 40 weeks to reach.’

So, 1987 fashions, according to 1962, were to have been: ‘the Empire silhouette skirt, skirts longer for day, shorter for evening, coats very full and shorter than dresses and necklines higher by day and plunging by evening.’

Sadly, no mention of puffball skirts and leg warmers.

In a very much not 2012-style politically correct closing line, the piece concludes with this: ‘Perhaps Big Brother will have something worth watching after all!’

From fashion to dating, with ‘Un Cri de Coeur’. A certain Mr Iacobucci (surely a pseudonym) was reported to be looking for computer centres in the US undertaking ‘marriage compatibility testing services.’ Computer Bulletin reports that he wants to ‘establish a dating service, using an IBM 1620 as a processing unit. Readers are invited to assist him by sending him locations of other computer centres engaged (I don’t think this was a deliberate pun, but kudos nonetheless) in this field.’

Two things on this: All Mr. I could find in 1962 was the Institut d’Orientation Nuptiale in France, which frankly sounds sweet. But also Mr Iacobucci’s full address was included (perhaps leading to outcries from future lonely, single geeks for some sort of privacy of information legislation...).

For a nice modern spin on where we are now with online dating and so on I could lament such ‘innovations’ as chat roulette, but instead let’s think about the possibilities of setting up an online dating and skyping service for orangutans...

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Brian is Head of Content at BCS and blogs about the Institute’s role in making IT good for society, historical developments in computing, the implications of CS research and more.

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