Operation Match

If you stop to talk to Jeff Tarr, Dave Crump, or Doug Ginsberg for a few minutes, you'll find them fairly conservative human beings--perfectly capable of expressing doubts about the good sense of abolishing the philibuster in the Senate of letting Cliffies into Lamont.

Nonetheless, these two 21-year-old and one 19-year-old have ploted since last spring to overthrow a whole way of life. Their banner reads "SEX," their creed is written on the circuits of a computer, and their initial organized uprising is called Operation Match.

Jeffrey C. Tarr '66, David L. Crump '66, and Douglas H. Ginsburg, are president and vice-presidents respectively of a corporation known as Compatibility Research, Inc. Their first and most successful promotion, Operation Match, is an enterprise that tries to arrange compatible dates.

This fall, approximately 70,000 American college students will send three dollars and a completed questionnaire to the offices of Meussrs. Tarr, Crump and Ginsburg. But few of them will know that the idea was originally conceived, along with the name "Operation Match" in a Winthrop House bull session one December evening last year.

Tarr, along with a classmate named Vaugh Morrill and several others, were discussing the irrationality of two particular social evils: the blind date and the mixer. Somewhere in the conversation one of them asked if computers might not be useful in solving the problem.


Date by Computer

They were aware that computers had been used to match people at special mixers and they knew that some companies in Europe were making a sizable profit from arranging compatible marriages through various technological means. "But what we wanted was something more permanent than a mixer, and more fun than a marriage bureau," a member of the group recalls.

In the course of the conversation, the idea of a computerized datefinding service evolved. The idea excited Tarr, and with the help of Morrill, he went out to see what might be done about it. Dean Munro, a few lawyers and certain technicians at a computer firm all assured Tarr that the idea was feasible.

Tarr and Morrill, now joined by Crump, thus decided to begin the process of drafting a questionnaire. With the help of friends in the soc rel department, they completed the questionnaire in about two weeks; they began to advertise and distribute it in late February.

By mid-March returns were still light and Tarr, Morrill and Crump in the meantime realized that their estimates of the cost of processing the questionaires had been too low. If their enterprise was to be successful they were going to have to receive 8,000 responses--many more than they thought would come in. At this point a T.V. show, "To Tell the Truth," and a 19-year-old U.C.L.A. coed, Vicki Albright, came to the rescue.

The CBS quiz show contacted Operation Match in March and asked Morrill to appear as one of their "mystery" personalities. Morrill readily consented, and operation Match received a free batch of national publicity. Soon after, Tarr and company decided to help sponsor the visit of Vicki Albright to Harvard. Miss Albright had appeared on the cover of Newsweek magazine a few weeks before, and had been selected by the Law School as their "Woman of the Year."

Someone suggested having the computer choose an "ideal" date for Vicki from all the Harvard men who had submitted completed questionnaires. "There were some complaints from guys in other schools," Crump says, "but Jeff and Vaugh and I wanted to give ourselves a better chance." The winner turned out to be Kevin Lewis of Winthrop House, but Tarr, Crump, and Morrill were sufficiently compensated. To begin with, the story and pictures of Kevin and Vicki were picked up by the Associated Press and printed in newspapers as far flung as the L.A. Times, the Macon Telegraph, and the Houston Post. Second, a dinner given for Vicki during the weekend gave Crump an excuse to have several of his original rock-roll compositions performed for the first time. A sample:

Well, I filled out my form and I sent it along,

Never hoping I'd get anything like this.

But now when I see her,