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Happy anniversary, World Wide Web

Monday - 3/3/2014, 11:02am  ET

WorldWideWeb_640 (Thinkstock)
The World Wide Web is celebrating a big birthday. (Thinkstock)

Audio: Majority of Americans can't live without their Internet

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WASHINGTON -- On March 12, 1989, British Computer Scientist Sir Tim Berners-Lee published a little paper called "Information Management: A proposal," and the rest is history.

That paper proposed a framework for managing information on the Internet. That system later became the World Wide Web, the free code that Berners-Lee released a year later on Christmas Day, 1990.

See Berners-Lee's proposal here

From dial-up to digital, the Web -- now 25 -- has changed the way people all over the world do just about everything. A recent Pew Research survey found that 87 percent of American adults now use the Internet, with 68 percent of Americans using it over their mobile devices.

"If you are under 25 you have always lived in a world with the Internet," says Brett Larson of TechBites.com, in an interview with WTOP.

"The convenience, the amount of information you can get you can stream content right into your home, you can watch high definition movies," he pointed out, saying its all come a long way from when the U.S. military first began to plant the seeds of the Internet more than 40 years ago.

The Internet was developed here and in Europe as a global network of networks connecting computers so that they can talk to one another. The Web is a service that uses this system to allow computers to access files and pages that are hosted on other computers. There is some technology that runs outside the Web on the Internet, but as Pew points out, "for many, (the Web) became synonymous with the Internet, even though that is not technically the case."

In 1995, only 14 percent of Americans were logging onto the Internet to browse the Web, while another 42 percent hadn't even heard of the Internet, or the Web. Since then, use has virtually exploded. According to Pew, 53 percent of users now say it would be "very hard" to give up the Internet. And not just for fun -- 61 percent of those people said it was essential to their work.

But socially, the Web has done wonders, according to Pew. Some 67 percent say they their communications, and thus their relationships, with family and friends have been generally strengthened, while only 18 percent said the Net weakened those relationships.

"There is considerable debate about whether online communication—through email, messaging, or social media—has strengthened or weakened relationships," said Pew. "Internet users' own verdict is overwhelmingly positive when it comes to their own ties to family and friends."

WTOP's Lori Lundin contributed to this report

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