On March 12, 2014, the World Wide Web will turn 25 years old. It's hard for many people to imagine life before the Internet, an invention that has revolutionized nearly every other industry on the planet. In honor of 25 years of websites, chat rooms, and memes, here are some of our favorite facts about the World Wide Web.
1. The Web Has 2 Birthdays
— Richard Wanjohi™ (@RWanjohi) February 7, 2014
Most people mark the "birth" of the Internet on March 12, 1989. This is the date when Sir Tim Berners-Lee published a paper about "information management," and it was this paper that outlined what would become the Internet we know and love today.
However, you could make the argument that the Web's birthday should actually be Christmas Day, 1990. On that day, Berners-Lee released the World Wide Web code for free to the public.
2. The World Wide Web and the Internet Are Not the Same Thing
The Pew Research report "The Web at 25 in the U.S." clarifies a common misconception. The net and the web aren't actually interchangeable terms, even though many people still use them that way. Pew explains:
"The internet is rules (protocols) that enable computer networks to communicate with each other. The Web is a service that uses the network to allow computers access files and pages that are hosted on other computers.
Other applications that are different from the Web also exploit the internet’s architecture to facilitate such things as email, some kinds of instant messaging, and peer-to-peer activities like internet phone calling through services like Skype or file sharing through torrent services."
3. Most People Use It, Most People Can't Give It Up
— Mashable (@mashable) February 27, 2014
As this article on Mashable notes, most Americans would give up their TV before they'd give up the Internet!
Pew Research adds that 87% of American adults use the Internet. That number is close to 99% in households earning over $75,000.
4. Most People Believe the Web Improved Their Lives
One last fact from that fascinating Pew survey. According to Pew, an overwhelming number of Americans believe that the Internet has been a positive influence in their lives. Yes, despite their constant griping about Facebook invites and email spam, the average American really loves the web.
Pew's researchers write:
"...we asked about the users themselves: 'Overall, when you add up all the advantages and disadvantages of the internet, would you say the internet has mostly been a good thing or a bad thing for you?'...
90% of internet users say that overall the internet had been a good thing for them and 6% said it was a bad thing. Another 3% volunteered the answer that it had been both good and bad for them."
5. The Web Is About to Get a Lot Bigger
It's no secret that one of the biggest sites on the web is Facebook. In our article about Facebook's 10th anniversary, we discussed Mark Zuckerberg's plans for making the Internet more accessible to people in the developing world.
Zuckerberg is part of Internet.org, a technology consortium that aims to bring technology into poorer countries, thereby boosting their economies. Tech companies such as Nokia, Qualcomm and Samsung are also part of the consortium. In the coming years, Zuckerberg's initiative is going to bring even more users online, growing the web into a truly global place.
On the next page, learn what sites are most popular, and how the web changed the English language...