Larry Tesler, the inventor of ‘cut’, ‘copy’ and ‘paste’ commands, has died

We remember the accomplishments of this inventor, most famous for creating the copy and paste commands.

The workdays of millions of students, authors, designers, and creatives of all kinds are a little bit easier thanks to three magic commands used almost instinctively: copy, cut, and paste. These tools allow us to save time and minimize errors.
On February 16, 2020, their inventor, American computer expert Larry Tesler, died at the age of 74.

Tesler developed several projects in his extensive career in companies such as Xerox PARC, Apple, Amazon, and Yahoo!. During the Sixties, long before computer science was a regular subject, Tesler graduated from Stanford University where he specialized in human-computer interaction, artificial intelligence, and anti-monopoly theory.

Larry Tesler, the inventor of ‘cut’, ‘copy’ and ‘paste’ commands, has died 2
Larry Tesler

During the Seventies, he started to work for Xerox PARC, the company responsible for the mouse interface to which we are so accustomed. There, between 1973 and 1976, together with Tim Mott, Larry Tesler developed a word processor called Gypsy, the first program to develop the cut, copy and paste commands used to extract, duplicate and move text. Tesler was also the person who suggested the names for these actions and these functions are now present in virtually every type of software.

Tesler was a supporter of the use of intuitive computer systems, in which the user is able to choose commands that produce the same results, no matter what program is being used. This user-friendly method, so strongly endorsed by Larry Tesler is nowadays accepted by all major software developers and operating systems.

In the following video, Tesler shows us the functionality of the commands in Gypsy, as well as the origin of the term ‘clipboard’, started in the same software and now adopted by the whole of the IT industry.

Tesler will be remembered as one of the big revolutionaries of the industry of personal computers. He was also involved in the Lisa computer project for Apple, the programming language Pascal, the personal digital assistant Apple Newton, as well as QuickTime and AppleScript software.


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