US Jewish computer scientist who pioneered ‘copy’ and ‘paste’ dies aged 74
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US Jewish computer scientist who pioneered ‘copy’ and ‘paste’ dies aged 74

In 1970s, Larry Tesler invented concepts that made computers more user-friendly and are now used in everyday work

Larry Tesler on July 23, 2007. (Yahoo! Blog from Sunnyvale, California, USA/Wikipedia CC-BY-2.0)
Larry Tesler on July 23, 2007. (Yahoo! Blog from Sunnyvale, California, USA/Wikipedia CC-BY-2.0)

NEW YORK — Larry Tesler, the US Silicon Valley pioneer who created the now-ubiquitous computer concepts such as “cut,” “copy” and “paste,” has died. He was 74.

He made using computers easier for generations as a proponent and pioneer of what he called “modeless editing.” That meant a user wouldn’t have to use a keyboard to switch between modes to write and edit, for example.

“The inventor of cut/copy & paste, find & replace, and more was former Xerox researcher Larry Tesler. Your workday is easier thanks to his revolutionary ideas,” Xerox said in a tweet Wednesday.

Tesler, who was Jewish, was born in New York and attended Stanford University, where he received a degree in mathematics in 1965.

In 1973, he joined Xerox Palo Alto Research Center, a division of the copier company that worked on creating computer products. There, he pioneered concepts that helped make computers more user-friendly. That included such concepts as moving text through cut and paste and inserting text by clicking on a section and just typing.

In this 1970s photo provided by Xerox PARC, Larry Tesler uses the Xerox Parc Alto early personal computer system. (Xerox PARC via AP)

He continued that work when he joined Apple in 1980. At Apple, he worked on a variety of products including the Lisa computer, the Newton personal digital assistant and the Macintosh.

After leaving Apple in 1997 he co-founded an education software company and held executive positions at Amazon, Yahoo and the genetics-testing service 23andMe before turning to independent consulting.

In 2012, Tesler told the BBC that he enjoyed working with younger people.

“There’s a very strong element of excitement, of being able to share what you’ve learned with the next generation,” he said.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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