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Larry Tesler, the inventor of cut, copy, and paste has died at the age of 74

I used his invention in memoriam to write this.

larry tesler inventor of copy paste
Image: KnowTechie

Larry Tesler, the computer scientist who created the ubiquitous Copy and Paste routine that modern computer users rely on, has passed away at the ripe old age of 74. During his long, storied career, he worked at companies like the legendary Xerox Corporation Palo Alto Research Center (PARC), Apple, and Amazon, creating and innovating wherever he was.

Some of the things you probably use every day had Larry’s hand in them, from the ARM processors used in iPhones and iPads, to the usability group that designs Amazon’s storefront. Heck, he even coined the word “browser,” which no doubt you’re reading this article on.

It’s fitting that Xerox gave Larry an obituary on social media yesterday, since his work while at Xerox literally changed the face of computing. Commonplace ideas like copy and paste (without having to switch into a separate mode), carryable computers, and the ability to replace text by selecting it and simply typing all came from his brain.

As well as creating the copy and paste routine that everyone uses, Larry had a huge list of notables:

  • Literally inspired Steve Jobs to make the Apple Mac (and the Lisa)
  • Advised Apple to buy NeXT, which brought Steve Jobs back to the company
  • Proposed Apple use Intel processors in its computers
  • Major contributor to Apple software such as QuickTime, AppleScript, and Bill Atkinson’s HyperCard
  • Got Apple to invest in ARM, which returned an $800 million gain from a $5 million investment
  • Worked at both Amazon and Yahoo on user experience software
  • Co-founded an education company
  • Worked at 23andme on user design

Whew, what a resume, what a man. If Larry’s tombstone isn’t a shiny slab of Apple aluminum, something is wrong with the world. Rest in peace you crazy data scientist. I’ll leave you with one of his coolest quotes, from his CV: “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.”

Did you realize the person that created copy/paste had their hands in so many other things, as well? Let us know down below in the comments or carry the discussion over to our Twitter or Facebook.

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Maker, meme-r, and unabashed geek with nearly half a decade of blogging experience at KnowTechie, SlashGear and XDA Developers. If it runs on electricity (or even if it doesn't), Joe probably has one around his office somewhere, with particular focus in gadgetry and handheld gaming. Shoot him an email at joe@knowtechie.com.

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