Internet invasion graphic corrected version (March 14, 2014)

Rebecca Gajecki remembers when she researched her school papers by going to the library and looking stuff up in books.

Melissa Hoffman remembers the days when people waited until their bank opened in the morning to withdraw money.

Lisa Hilton remembers when people usually met their sweethearts in high school, or at a bar, or through friends.

That was before the World Wide Web threw open the doors of business, education, information and socialization.

Do you remember the days before you carried around the world in your pocket?

That would have been before Tim Berners-Lee, a British computer scientist, submitted his proposal for what became the Web back in March of 1989.

The Web turned 25 years old this week and it's hard to imagine an invention or process that has changed our lives as much in recent history, impacting everything from political movements to our love lives.

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The Web is the information management system that made it convenient for millions of people to use the Internet, the global system that connects computers.

The Web offers a giant stream of information to its users every day, everything from the sublime to the ridiculous, from across the globe to down the street.

What is happening in Malaysia or Manheim? Where can you buy rain boots for this spring?

What are the lyrics of that Police song you heard on the radio on the way to work? How do you make healthy broccoli cheddar soup?

What is the balance in your checking account? Why is everyone in your neighborhood buzzing about that party last weekend?

Do you qualify for the Affordable Care Act? What ever happened to that cute student who sat next to you in college bio?

The Web is the system that supports  the food and fitness blog of Lititz woman Robin Runner, who attracts 75,000 hits a month on her website, kneadtocook.com. Runner also has attracted corporate supporters to her website, which she launched just three years ago.

"I can't imagine the world without it," said Runner, 42, of the Web, "even though it's not been there that long."

The Web allows Susquehanna Bank customers to open accounts, check their balances, even take a photograph of a check and deposit in their account.

"It's amazing how many different ways you can do electronic payments," said Melissa Hoffman, a senior vice president at the bank. "Back in the olden days, you wrote checks for all your bills and mailed them in."

A recent Pew Research Center study shows just how ubiquitous the Web, via the Internet, has become in the past two decades.

Back in 1995, 42 percent of adults in the United States had never heard of the Internet, and another 21 percent were vague about it — they knew it had something to do with computers but that was about it. Only 14 percent of people  actually used the Internet.

Flash forward to 2014, when 87 percent of U.S. adults now use the Internet, Pew found.

There now is an entire generation who grew up with computers, and does not know life without them.

Count Rebecca Gajecki in that group. The 30-year-old is a native to technology and helps teachers in the Solanco school district use it in their classrooms.

Though Gajecki can't really remember a life before computers, she  can see how it has changed education, just in her lifetime.

Where Gajecki wrote papers from information she culled from textbooks, Solanco High School students can use their own cell phones to access the Internet and a vast array of sources, under a teacher's supervision.

What's more, students as young as third-graders are adept at doing Power Point presentations. Elementary school students are using electronic devices to text answers or spell words to their teachers in the classroom.

Lisa Hilton has seen how the Internet can have a very personal impact. The 49-year-old Lititz woman met her 50-year-old boyfriend, Mark Witenstein, of Marietta, via an online dating service called OurTime.

Hilton is divorced and met her ex-husband when she was in high school. She tried the bars and dating scene after the couple split but said it was the dating website that brought her and Witenstein together.

"I would have never believed it if somebody told me you could have done that when I was 25," she said. "I would have laughed at them."

The Web also has dramatically impacted the way people get their news, from national sites such as CNN and The New York Times to local sites such as LancasterOnline, the website of Lancaster Newspapers.

In the early days of the website, in the early 2000s, people came to LancasterOnline for classified ads, said Palmer Brown, digital marketing manager.

Now readers come to the site for local news, and can access it via mobile devices or tablets as well as their computer.

And the flow of information is continuous on the website, compared to that once-a-day thunk of a newspaper thrown onto a customer's driveway or front porch.

"It's the immediacy, and the availability of it," Brown said.

Runner, the food blogger, said she looks at her pre-teen and ninth-grade daughters and wonders about the changes they will see in technology in the next 25 years.

"The world," she said, "is at your fingertips."

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Cindy Stauffer is a Lancaster Newspapers staff writer. She can be reached at cstauffer@lnpnews.com or (717) 481-6024. You can also follow @cindystauffer on Twitter.