Larry Tesler, the computing pioneer behind cut, copy and paste, has died at the age of 74.
The IT whizz was born in the Bronx, New York, in 1945, and later studied computer science at Stanford University in California. Tesler’s prime focus was always human-computer interaction (aka user interface design), putting his skill-set to work at the likes of Amazon, Apple, Yahoo, and the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center (PARC).
PARC announced his death on Wednesday, February 19, with the company praising Tesler’s ‘revolutionary ideas’. If you use a computer day-to-day, it’s hard to imagine living without cut, copy and paste.
Xerox’s full tweet read: ‘The inventor of cut/copy and paste, find and replace, and more was former Xerox researcher Larry Tesler. Your workday is easier thanks to his revolutionary ideas. Larry passed away Monday, so please join us in celebrating him.’
Tesler’s illustrious career kicked off at Xerox, however it wasn’t long before Apple’s Steve Jobs noticed his talents and nabbed him for the tech behemoth in 1980. As well as spending 17 years at the company, becoming chief scientist in 1993, it was also there he conjured the cut, copy and paste command.
If you’re somehow unaware of the everyday computing command, it’s the process of either removing or copying a section of text, and then placing it elsewhere. It was first integrated into Apple’s software on the Lisa computer in 1983, then the original Macintosh that was released the following year.
The Computer History Museum in Silicon Valley tweeted: ‘Today we also bid farewell to computing visionary Larry Tesler. Tesler created the idea of cut, copy and paste and combined computer science training with a counterculture vision that computers should be for everyone.’
He wrote on his website: ‘I have been mistakenly identified as the father of the graphical user interface for the Macintosh. I was not. However, a paternity test might expose me as one of its many grandparents.’
In 1997, Tesler left Apple and worked at Stagecast, an education software start-up spun out of his time at the tech giant, then also spending time at Amazon, Yahoo, and 23andMe. Since 2009, he had been a UX consultant based in California.
Back in 2012, when commenting on the nature of Silicon Valley, Tesler told the BBC: ‘There’s almost a rite of passage – after you’ve made some money, you don’t just retire, you spend your time funding other companies. There’s a very strong element of excitement, of being able to share what you’ve learned with the next generation.
The cause of Tesler’s death has not been released. RIP.
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