World Wide Web Celebrates 25th Birthday

Report shows about 87 percent of American adults use the Internet

The World Wide Web is celebrating its 25th Birthday on Wednesday.

It’s credited to computer scientist Tim Berners-Lee, who laid the groundwork that helped make the Internet what it is today. From smartphones to personal computers, it seems like it is has changed every aspect of our lives.

“I can’t even remember the last time I looked something up in a book. I always go to the Internet,” said Jane Carroll, a student at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse.

“I have never looked in a book for research,” said Dana Peterson, also a student at UW-La Crosse.

For Jane and Dana’s generation, it seems like the Internets World Wide Web has always been around.

“I have a smartphone so it’s really easy to check it. If I am waiting in line I will check it, in between classes I check it,” said Peterson.

“If you need to look up a definition for a paper, you just go to Google and type it in. It’s really easy,” said Carroll.

However, that hasn’t always been the case. The chief information officer at UW-La Crosse, Mohamed Elhindi, remembers the first time he used the World Wide Web.

“We have what we call a modem, what you do is you connect the phone line to the modem, you pick up the phone and then you dial the number. When you hear the connection, you hang up really fast and you try to stay connected,” said Elhindi.

If we go back even further, David Riley, a computer science professor at UW-La Crosse, said he can remember when it all began.

“It started with personal computers in some sense in the 1980s. Then in the 1990s, the World Wide Web allowed personal computers to communicate with each,” said Riley. “It really delivers these web pages to everybody so we can see pictures, eventually videos, it goes much farther beyond text.”

That’s when things shifted from one person interacting with another to the entire world interacting with each other.

“Time of day no longer matters to anyone, nor does where you are,” said Riley.

“Today in my office, I could be talking to someone in China or somebody in the middle of the desert in Sudan. I could be talking to them over the Internet using full video, full information and actually conduct business from my office,” said Elhindi.

In 25 years a lot has changed. The Internet is now at your fingertips 24/7, and many people wouldn’t want it any other way.

“I just can’t even imagine doing stuff without the Internet right now, because it’s all around us and you use it for everything,” said Carroll.

“I can probably imagine it, but I am not sure I would want to go there because there are so many advantages, and we are only beginning to see the beginning of this I think,” said Riley.

Back in 1995, about 14 percent of Americans admitted to using the Internet. In a recent Pew Research Center report, about 87 percent of American adults use the Internet and 76 percent of them say it’s a good thing for society.