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RIP: Larry Tesler, inventor of copy & paste


“You cannot reduce the complexity of a given task beyond a certain point. Once you’ve reached that point you can only shift the burden around.” ~Larry Tesler

One of the people who helped create the current age of personal computing passed away this week: Larry Tesler (74), the computer scientist who invented copy-&-paste while at Xerox PARC.

Entwined with Apple’s story

Long ago, when Xerox wanted to invest in Apple before its IPO, Apple demanded and got the right to visit the fabled Palo Alto Research Center. The first such visit took place in 1980 (though some claim it took place in 1979).

Larry Tesler, then the director of PARC, acted as Apple’s tour guide.

Born in the Bronx in 1945, Tesler studied at Stanford University in California and was the man who led Apple’s Steve Jobs and his delegation on the historically important tour from which Apple took user interface and computer design concepts that became mainstays of the PCs we use today.

Things like external keyboards, mice, icons, windows — all of these elements had been in development at Xerox PARC, though it took Jobs and Apple to fully realize them, some say.

Jobs was so impressed by the demonstration, he reportedly yelled, “You’re sitting on a gold mine.”

Teslar was also taken by his Apple visitors:

Copyright © 2020 IDG Communications, Inc.



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