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Guy Who Invented Computer Task You Use a Lot Is Dead

Larry Tesler invented the copy-paste function for personal computers
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 20, 2020 6:37 AM CST

(Newser) – You don't know the name, but you surely know one of his most famous innovations: Larry Tesler, the man who created the copy-paste function in personal computers, is dead at 74, reports the BBC. Tesler also is credited with creating the "find and replace" and "cut" functions. "Your workday is easier thanks to his revolutionary ideas," tweeted Xerox, where he worked early in his career. None other than Steve Jobs hired him away from Xerox, and Tesler rose to the position of chief scientist at Apple in his 17 years there. He also worked for Amazon, Yahoo, and 23andMe, notes the Verge. Tesler came up with copy-paste in the 1970s while working at the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center. He and Tim Mott worked on a word processor called Gypsy (Tesler talks about it in this video), and that's where Tesler came up with the easy way to move around text.

"I have been mistakenly identified as 'the father of the graphical user interface for the Macintosh,'" wrote Tesler on the resume posted on his website. "I was not. However, a paternity test might expose me as one of its many grandparents." He did indeed play a big role in the user interface design for Apple's Lisa, Macintosh, and Newton computers, per CNET. The latter, a personal digital assistant, is seen as a precursor to the iPhone. Tesler surely made or contributed to many other vital innovations at Apple and Xerox that we may never know about, writes Andrew Liszewski at Gizmodo. But we do know this: "Tesler is one of the major reasons (computers) moved out of research centers and into homes." (Read more obituary stories.)

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