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Cut, copy and paste inventor, Larry Tesler is dead

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Larry Tesler
Larry Tesler, the man responsible for inventing cut/copy & paste, find and replace, has died at the age of 74.

Considered to be a computing icon, Tesler played key roles at both Apple and Xerox during his outstanding career.

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When news of his passing was released, Xerox tweeted alongside a picture of Tesler: “The inventor of cut/copy & paste, find & 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.”

Among his achievements, Tesler was a major contributor to key Macintosh software, including QuickTime, AppleScript and Bill Atkinson’s HyperCard. He spent 17 years with Apple becoming its chief scientist in 1993.

It was during his time at Apple that he came up with the concept of the cut, copy and paste command – his most famous innovation. His revolutionary concept was first integrated into Apple’s software on the Lisa computer in 1983, then the original Macintosh that was released the following year.

Tesler, who has an intense dislike of modes, pioneered the concept of “modeless” software, with which a user would not have to, for example, use a keyboard to switch to a command mode before switching back to edit text.

Tesler 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.”

He also worked on the Newton, a personal digital assistant and a precursor to the iPhone.

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.”

Born in New York in 1945, Tesler studied at Stanford University before specialising in interface design – making computer systems more user-friendly.

He began his career at Xerox Palo Alto Research Centre, before moving to Apple, when Steve Jobs poached him. After leaving Apple in 1997, he set up an education startup, Stagecast, and joined Amazon as vice president. He later went on to become the head of user experience design and research.

Speaking to the BBC in 2012, he said: “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.”

In addition to his other projects, he also started personal genetics Information Company 23andMe. According to his LinkedIn profile, he was a semi-retired consultant living San Francisco Bay Area.


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