World Wide Web turns 25, connects 87% of Americans

Get your party pants on, people — the World Wide Web is turning 25 on 12 March.

In honour of the web's impending quarter-life crisis, the Pew Research Centre on Thursday released a survey showing just how far it has come over the years. Two and a half decades after Sir Tim Berners-Lee released the first popular Web browser Mosaic, an overwhelming 87 per cent of American adults now use the Internet — and most say it has positively impacted their life and society overall.

The survey of 1,006 adults, conducted last month, revealed that 90 per cent think the Internet has been a good thing for them personally and 75 per cent think it has improved society. Fifty-three per cent said the Internet would be, at a minimum, "very hard" to give up while four in 10 said it's absolutely necessary to their lives.

"The invention of the Web by Sir Tim Berners-Lee was instrumental in turning the Internet from a geeky data-transfer system embraced by specialists and a small number of enthusiasts into a mass-adopted technology easily used by hundreds of millions around the world," Pew researchers wrote in the report.

Pew has been tracking Internet adoption since 1995, when a mere 14 per cent of Americans used the web. While there has been considerable debate over the years as to whether the Internet has strengthened or weakened personal relationships, 67 per cent of Internet users polled last month said their online communication has led to tighter bonds with family and friends.