The plan for what became the “World Wide Web” was laid out in a memo by Tim Berners-Lee on March 12, 1989, to his boss at CERN, a European research laboratory. He wanted to solve a very basic organizational problem: As scientists came and went at the lab, their institutional knowledge was in danger of disappearing.
His solution: use “hypertext” to easily toggle back and forth between files housed on computers in different locations. If you click on the blue, underlined words in the paragraph above, you are using hypertext to jump to documents on another computer — the most basic use of the Web.
But today we use the internet for much, much more – from watching videos, to reading our daily news to keeping track of our friends and family on social media and sharing pictures of our pets. Many of us spend all day in front of a screen at work, with most of the time on the internet.
In a new report, The Web at 25 in the U.S., the Pew Research Center Internet and American Life Project looks at Americans’ evolving relationship with computers, the internet and the Web. Here are 7 things you might not know:
- Between 1995 and 2014, the percentage of Americans regularly accessing the internet jumped from 14 percent to 87 percent.
- 65 percent of those earning less than $30,000 per year use computers regularly; 96 percent with incomes over $75,000 are regular users.
- While 66 percent of those with a high school education or less are regular users, 94 percent of those who have gone beyond a college degree use computers.
- For about a third of cell phone users, the phone is their primary access to the internet.
- In the early days of the Web, it could take 4 hours to prepare a minute-long video that was the size of a postage stamp and might take several minutes to appear in a browser before viewing.
- Al Gore did not say: “I invented the Internet.”
- Of those surveyed, 76 percent say the internet has been a plus for society, and 90 percent say it has been good “for me.”