Few things are more awkward than being denied on the dance floor. To save us all from embarrassment, Carlisle H. Dickson invented an “interpersonal-introduction signaling system” in 1973 for “attracting and selecting male and female partners at a dance.” In other words, a Stone Age ancestor to Tinder.

Each dancer wore a transceiver that beamed his or her dance preferences to fellow dancers, eliminating the need for all that silly small-talk nonsense. A girl who liked doo-wop, for instance, could tune her device to respond only to guys with similar tastes. When a potential dance partner was in range, the two devices would interact, letting the wearers know that somebody compatible was nearby. That way, the “male may approach her with assurance of acceptances based on interests in common.”

This story originally appeared in print in the October 2014 issue of mental_floss magazine. Subscribe to our print edition here, and our iPad edition here.