Computer scientist who invented ‘cut-copy-paste’ dies

Larry Tesler
Larry Tesler, an American computer scientist [PHOTO CREDIT: @CNET]

An American computer scientist who invented the widely used computer concept, ‘cut-copy-paste’, Larry Tesler, has died at age 74.

The concepts became instrumental to user interface building blocks for both text editors and entire computer operating systems.

The news of Mr Tesler’s death was divulged to the world in a tweet by Xerox, a U.S. tech company where he worked with before his death.

“The inventor of cut/copy & paste, find & replace, and more, was former Xerox researcher Larry Tesler,” the company tweeted on Wednesday evening. “Your workday is easier thanks to his revolutionary ideas.”

The company said he died on Monday without giving any information about where he had died or the cause of his death.

“Your workday is easier thanks to his revolutionary ideas. Larry passed away Monday, so please join us in celebrating him,” the company said.

A graduate of Stanford University, Mr Tesler specialised in human-computer interaction, employing his skills at Amazon, Apple, Yahoo, and the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center (PARC).

Upon his death, he was a consultant to Valley firms big and small, specialising in the way users experience technology products.

‘Silicon Valley history man’

Born in 1945 in New York, Mr Tesler was schooled at Stanford University, in computer science.

After graduating, he specialised in user interface design – that is, making computer systems more user-friendly.

He worked for a number of major tech firms during his long career. After working in AI (artificial intelligence) research, he joined Xerox’s Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) in 1973, where he developed ‘cut, copy, and paste’.

In 1980, Apple co-founder, Steve Jobs poached him for his company, where he spent 17 years and rose to chief scientist in 1993. His research was used to develop better iterations of the ideas for Apple products.

After leaving Apple, Mr Tesler worked at Stagecast, an education software startup that was spun out of Apple, and also spent time at Amazon, Yahoo, and 23andMe. Since 2009, he had been a UX consultant based in California.

‘Revolutionary idea’

Inventing what some describe as the greatest computer utility command— cut, copy and paste command, Mr Tesler gained spotlight in 1984 when the command was made popular by Apple after being incorporated in software on the Lisa computer in 1983 and the original Macintosh that debuted the following year.

The cut and paste command was said to have been inspired by old-fashioned editing that involved actually cutting portions of printed text and affixing them elsewhere with adhesive.

With the upsurge of technology, many now rely widely on the command although critics would argue that this has also aided plagiarism.


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