Larry Tesler, inventor of ‘cut, copy, and paste,’ dies at 74

Tesler, a computer scientist known for cut, copy, and paste functionality has died at the age of 74.

| Updated on: Aug 20 2022, 19:30 IST
Larry Tesler, father of ‘cut, copy, and paste,’ dies. He was 74.
Larry Tesler, father of ‘cut, copy, and paste,’ dies. He was 74. (Wikipedia)
Larry Tesler, father of ‘cut, copy, and paste,’ dies. He was 74.
Larry Tesler, father of ‘cut, copy, and paste,’ dies. He was 74. (Wikipedia)

Larry Tesler, also known as the computer scientist behind cut, copy and paste, has died at the age of 74.

Born in 1945 in New York, Tesler studied computer science at Stanford. He began his professional journey with Xerox's Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) in 1973. During his stint with Xerox, he developed the cut, copy, and paste - a functionality which will go on to become one of the most commonly used features on computers.

The cut and paste command was reportedly inspired by old time editing that involved actually cutting portions of printed text and affixing them elsewhere with adhesive. "Tesler created the idea of 'cut, copy, & paste' and combined computer science training with a counterculture vision that computers should be for everyone," the Computer History Museum in Silicon Valley tweeted Wednesday.

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 next year.

In a humble of CV, Tesler explains his work, "Conceived, implemented and usability-tested GUI (graphical user interface) and IDE (integrated development environment) capabilities that have become standards in the industry, including the ability to:… insert or overwrite text without entering a mode by simply clicking or dragging and then typing… move or copy text without entering a mode using cut/copy and paste… type or paste find & replace text into a form that can be edited before and after searching…" 

Tesler was one of many Xerox employees who joined Apple and Steve Jobs in 1980. According to the Wikipedia entry, Tesler had cited Apple's better understanding of computers and Xerox's focus as a photocopier company as the reason for leaving the company. Tesla also contributed in developing Lisa and other Apple computers. Post Apple, he worked with Amazon between 2001 and 2005. He later joined Yahoo which he left in 2008. Since 2009, he was working as an independent consultant.

According to The Verge, Tesler was also an advocate for "modeless" computing, a concept which ensures that a computer application shouldn't have separate "modes" where input by the user results into different outputs depending on whichever mode the application is running on.

Paying tribute to Tesler, Xerox said in a tweet: "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."

(with inputs from agencies)

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First Published Date: 20 Feb, 12:53 IST
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