'Visionary' Larry Tesler, Computer Scientist Who Created Cut, Copy and Paste, Dies at 74

Helen Murphy

Larry Tesler, best known for inventing the computer commands “cut,” “copy” and “paste,” has died, multiple outlets report. He was 74.

Tesler, a computer scientist, began working in the 1960s, before computers were accessible and easy to use, according to the BBC.

Throughout his long career, he worked for Xerox, Apple, Amazon and Yahoo, and is responsible for creating many of the commands that make modern computers so user-friendly.

“The inventor of cut/copy & paste, find & replace, and more was former Xerox researcher Larry Tesler,” Xerox tweeted on Wednesday, two days after Tesler’s death. “Your workday is easier thanks to his revolutionary ideas.”

Tesler joined Xerox at the company’s Palo Alto Research Center in 1973, and it was there that he invented the now-ubiquitous cut, copy and paste commands, The Verge reported.

According to the BBC, the Bronx-born Tesler left Xerox after being hired by Steve Jobs. He stayed at Apple for the next 17 years, eventually becoming chief scientist. The cut, copy and paste commands were reportedly incorporated into Apple’s software beginning in 1983.

Larry Tesler in 1990 | Ann E. Yow-Dyson/Getty

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Larry Tesler in 1991 | Ann E. Yow-Dyson/Getty

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Tesler later had brief stints at Amazon and Yahoo, and also helped launch an education start-up.

“There’s almost a rite of passage — after you’ve made some money, you don’t just retire, you spend your time funding other companies,” he told the BBC in 2012. “There’s a very strong element of excitement, of being able to share what you’ve learned with the next generation.”

The Computer History Museum in Silicon Valley also paid tribute to Tesler on Wednesday, writing, “Today we also bid farewell to computing visionary Larry Tesler. Tesler created the idea of ‘cut, copy, & paste’ and combined computer science training with a counterculture vision that computers should be for everyone.”