Computer scientist Larry Tesler, who was an instrumental figure at Apple in the '80s and '90s, died on Monday at the age of 74, according to Apple Insider (opens in new tab).
Tesler began his career in the '60s as a programmer and Stanford AI researcher before joining Xerox in 1973. One of his inventions during his time at Xerox is something so ubiquitous, it's easy to forget that someone invented it.
With Tim Mott at Xerox, Tesler created the cut, copy, and paste commands we use daily. He didn't invent the fundamental idea of moving digital text from one place to another, but did create the specific method and naming convention that endured.
In 1980, Tesler joined Apple. 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. In 1986, he became VP of advanced technology at Apple, and in 1993, he was promoted to VP and chief scientist.
Tesler obviously contributed far more than Ctrl-C (or Command-C, in Apple parlance) during his career. He was a key member of Apple during its rise, managing R&D and contributing to the Macintosh, HyperCard, MacApp, QuickTime, AppleScript, and more.
After leaving Apple in 1997, Tesler went on to co-found educational company Stagecast Software, and worked at Amazon, Yahoo, and other technology companies before becoming a consultant in 2009.
His human-computer interaction motto was "no modes," which meant that user input should have a consistent effect and not be bound to different modes of operation—for instance, a mode for entering text into a word processor document, and a mode for entering commands into the word processor.
For a more detailed overview of Tesler's life, I suggest writer Luke Dormehl's brief account posted on Cult of Mac today (opens in new tab).