'It's everything': The Internet launched publicly 30 years ago. Now it's hard for Milwaukeeans to imagine a life without

’It’s everything’: The Internet launched publicly 30 years ago. Now it’s hard for Milwaukeeans to imagine a life without

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- Thirty years ago, on April 30, 1993, CERN -- the European Organization for Nuclear Research -- released a code for the World Wide Web into the public domain. 

We can thank a man named Tim Berners-Lee, a physicist who worked at CERN, who was researching ways for scientists to easily collaborate with one another online.

What started out as a specialized scientific system then turned into something that two-thirds of the world's population now relies on every single day.

Nowadays, it's hard to find someone who doesn't have at least one handheld device or a way to connect online at their fingertips.

CBS 58's Ellie Nakamoto-White spoke with Thomas Haigh, a history professor at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, who said the internet has become "the infrastructure for pretty much everything we're doing as human beings."

"They're using it to do almost everything, right, you know, shopping, dating, chatting, working," Haigh said. "I don't think we could get much more reliant on it."

Whether you like it, love it, or hate it, there's no doubt that the creation of the Internet is one of the world's most significant inventions.

“It really has just opened up our world in ways that we could never have imagined 30 years ago," said Milwaukee resident Kathleen Maguire, who remembers what life was like before the web launch. “The Internet is a lifeline for me. I use it in just about everything I do.”

Some people have even taken to the Internet as a means of financial support, like Sylvia McClure, a content creator who not only runs a clothing business, but also an Instagram and a TikTok for her dog, Wiley, that have a combined 83,000 followers. 

"It’s given me a lot of freedom. I can work from my phone, I can work anywhere," McClure said. “It’s given me a lot of opportunity to grow and to create connect with other platforms and businesses and individuals who also use the Internet.”

McClure noted that she also heavily uses the Internet as a means of communication between friends and family. 

“My grandparents actually live in Poland so the only way I’m able to connect with them is through Zoom, through FaceTime, video call, stuff like that so I think it is very important," McClure said. 

Students like 20-year-old Aidan Lauersdorf rely on the Internet for their schoolwork.

"I use it for everything school-related," Lauersdorf said. "I don’t think I’ve ever bought a textbook, like a hard copy of a textbook, in my life. Everything’s right on my computer."

Lauersdorf said at one point, he became so addicted to social media that he had to set firm boundaries with himself.

"My screen time today was five hours," Lauersdorf said. “Freshman year, I kind of slipped on stuff and I caught myself really spending way too much time on the Internet, so I was like, 'OK, I gotta set a time limit,' and I talked to my roommate, and I was like, 'can you put a password on this so I can’t unlock it?”

Since then, Lauersdorf has set time limits on his apps like TikTok and Instagram to stop him from going overboard.

"I hope that over the next 50 years, we'll kind of get smarter and figure out wiser ways to use it," Haigh said. "I think this was a distinctive historical moment."

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