The world of computer science is not exactly glamorous. There are not many household names in the field. The work is mostly taken for granted and the average computer user never questions how the processes came to fruition. If you have turned on a computer the chances are you have used the copy and paste function. The man responsible for that concept is Larry Tesler and he passed away on Monday.
Mr Tesler’s specialty was in user interface design. He wanted to make computer systems easy to use and accessible to everyone. Back in 1973 he became staff at Xerox’s Palo Alto Research Centre. It was here many of the ideas that molded today’s personal computer were conceptualised.
At the time modes were a common feature in software. Modes allowed users to switch between functions on apps and software but made tasks complicated and time consuming. His loathing of modes is legendary, so much so the licence place on his car reads ‘NOMODES’.
There he came up with Gypsy. Gypsy was one of the first document editors that used the key board and mouse. Gypsy was….. You guessed it, modeless. This meant the interface was always editable as opposed to having to use commands to edit the text.
This innovation caught the eye of Apple where he went on to work for 17 years. After leaving Apple he set up an education start-up, and worked for brief periods at Amazon and Yahoo. Bill Gate, Steve Jobs and Larry Page are all well known names and Larry Tesler never seemed to reach those heights.
What we admire about him is that he wanted to make computers accessible and easy to use. We strive to make our app Veri user friendly. Our whole ethos is about making it efficient to complete daily tasks. Many compulsory tasks specific to individual industries are time consuming and rooted in duplication and paper piles. We hope to see this come to an end. We might have to change our licence plate to ‘digitise’!
Silicon Valley’s Computer History Museum said Mr Tesler “combined computer science training with a counterculture vision that computers should be for everyone”. Xerox tweeted ‘your workday is easier thanks to his revolutionary ideas.’ Mr Tesler has left a legacy that all future computer science innovations will be built upon. Ask yourself the question, how many times did you ‘copy and paste’ this week?