The “copy and paste” command is an orphan

You may not have known it, but the commands “cut”, “copy”, “paste” and “search” and “replace”, which delight the most lazy students to the chagrin of universities, are attributed to the American Larry Tesler, who died earlier this week. Xerox, the company where he worked in the 1970s, paid tribute to him on Twitter on Wednesday. “Your work day is made easier by his revolutionary ideas,” she said. in a message.

These IT orders are now part of the daily lives of Internet users. They are defined by key combinations that perform a series of functions, which are themselves programmed in software. The “copy and paste” combination, allowing to reproduce or move data from a source to a recipient, is undoubtedly among the best known.

Apple helped popularize this order

Born in New York in 1945, he had spent part of his career with the American printer manufacturer. A graduate of Stanford University in Silicon Valley, California, Larry Tesler specialized in the interactions between humans and machines. He had notably worked for Amazon, Apple, Yahoo and the Xerox research center in Palo Alto.

The ability to “cut” and “paste” a piece of text without going through many complicated steps would have been inspired by a technique prior to the digital age, which consisted in cutting portions of printed sentences and fixing them elsewhere with tape. The order came into being thanks to Apple, which had installed it on the Lisa computer in 1983 and on the Macintosh the following year.

Apple co-founder Steve Jobs poached Larry Tesler from Xerox in 1980. The engineer spent 17 years there, gaining the position of scientific director. He then created an education start-up and carried out user experience work assignments at Amazon and Yahoo.

According to the Computer History Museum, Larry Tesler “combined his training in computer science with a counterculture that computers should be for everyone,” reports the. AFP.

In 2017, the museum had posted a video made from archive images of Larry Tesler running the “Gypsy” program on the museum’s restored Xerox Alto computer. Gypsy was created by Larry Tesler and Tim Mott in the mid-1970s at the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center for the company Ginn and Compagny, a Xerox subsidiary and publisher of textbooks. The video shows the demonstration of “cut and paste” in Gypsy.


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