Larry Tesler, Inventer of Cut, Copy, and Paste, Dies at 74

  • "The inventor of cut/copy & paste, find & replace, and more was former Xerox researcher Larry Tesler," said Xerox via a Twitter post.
  • Tesler decided in 1980 to head for a growing company, Apple.
  • After leaving Apple, Larry Tesler co-founded Stage Cast Software, where he developed apps for kids to learn programming concepts in a fun and accessible way.

Larry Tesler, creator of the cut, copy and paste functions, died Monday of this week at 74 years old. The former Xerox employee was famously poached by Apple during its early stages before working for Amazon and Yahoo. Lawrence Gordon Tesler studied computer science at Stanford University and, after graduating, he ventured into investigating artificial intelligence, as well as the interaction between computers and people.

Xerox is an American global corporation that sells print and digital document products and services in more than 160 countries. Researchers at Xerox and its Palo Alto Research Center invented several important elements of personal computing, such as the desktop metaphor GUI, the computer mouse and desktop computing.

In 1973, Tesler got a job at the Xerox Research Center in Palo Alto, California, a job that produced a significant impact on his life, as well as to millions of other users. This is where Tesler developed the cut, copy and paste functions, supposedly influenced by an editorial practice, which consists of cutting out portions of text and pasting them elsewhere. A relevant point about Tesler’s ideas is that he not only applied them in text editors but also elevated them across all of the computer operating systems.

“The inventor of cut/copy & paste, find & replace, and more was former Xerox researcher Larry Tesler,” said Xerox via a Twitter post. For its part, the Silicon Valley Computer History Museum said “Tesler created the idea of ‘cut, copy, & paste’ and combined computer science training with a counterculture vision that computers should be for everyone.”

After going through Xerox, which was the company responsible for designing the external mouse to send commands to the computer, Tesler decided in 1980 to head for a growing company, Apple. There he worked until 1997, and held very relevant positions as vice president of AppleNet and even Chief Scientific Officer of the company.

The Advanced Technology Group (ATG) was a corporate research laboratory at Apple Computer from 1986 to 1997. ATG was an evolution of Apple’s Education Research Group (ERG) and was started by Larry Tesler in October 1986 to study long term research into future technologies that were beyond the time frame or organizational scope of any individual product group.

The time he worked at Cupertino influenced the development of several products such as the QuickTime media player software and Macintosh and Lisa personal computers, which also popularized the editing options he invented. In addition to his contributions to hardware development for the enterprise, Tesler was known for his efforts to make software and user interfaces more accessible and easy to use from a clean and simple design.

After leaving Apple, Larry Tesler co-founded Stagecast Software, where he developed apps for kids to learn programming concepts in a fun and accessible way. Tesler himself divided his work experience into three periods of great importance: his time at Xerox, time at Apple and finally, the lessons he obtained as a consultant for large companies related to technology development in the world.

He worked for Amazon in 2001, where he became vice president of purchasing experience and for 2005, Yahoo decided to take on his services and appointed him as user experience and design vice president.

Although Tesler’s name did not have the same fame as that of characters such as Bill Gates or Steve Jobs, his contribution to technological innovation was fundamental. He was an advocate for users, being one of the main people who encouraged software developers to implement a unique way of working to simplify the processes, which was ultimately followed.

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Joyce Davis

My history goes back to 2002 and I  worked as a reporter, interviewer, news editor, copy editor, managing editor, newsletter founder, almanac profiler, and news radio broadcaster.


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