Larry Tesler, the ‘guru’ of ‘cut, copy and paste’ passes away

Yolanda Curtis
February 20, 2020

The concepts became instrumental to user interface building blocks for both text editors and entire computer operating systems. Xerox paid tribute to him on Twitter, saying his revolutionary inventions made workdays easier.

After working in AI research, he joined Xerox's Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) in 1973, where he developed cut, copy, and paste.


In 1980, Tesler joined Apple and worked at the company until 1997.

"The inventor of cut/copy & paste, find & replace, and more, was former Xerox researcher Larry Tesler", the company tweeted on Wednesday evening. Larry was a graduate of Stanford University who specialised in human-computer interaction. He first contributed to the Apple Lisa and its graphical user interface, which included his previous user interface advancements, leading to the popularization of his copying and pasting commands.


Born in 1945 in New York, Tesler had a unique innovative mindset. In addition to the now ubiquitous "cut", "copy", and "paste" terminologies, Tesler was also an advocate for an approach to UI design known as modeless computing, which is reflected in his personal website. A computer scientist, Larry has worked with many tech industry giants like XEROX, Apple, Amazon and Yahoo! just to name a few. The cut and paste command is reportedly inspired by old-time editing which mainly involved cutting portions of printed text and fixing them elsewhere with paste. Such positions include, Vice President of AppleNet, Apple's Chief Scientist etc.

He went on to establish an education startup and do stints in user-experience technology at Amazon and Yahoo. According to his CV, Tesler left 23andMe in 2009 and from then on mostly focused on consulting work.


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