In a world full of heroes, perhaps none shined as brightly as Larry Tresler.
Well, maybe it’s just me that feels this way. Tresler, who passed away last week at the all-too-young age of 74, was considered a pioneer of personal computing. Once an employee with tech giant Xerox, Tresler was credited with, as CNN described, “making computers accessible to people without computer engineering degrees, i.e. most of us.”
How so, one might ask? Well, Tresler developed technology that saves my heinie on a regular basis. (Editor’s note: I went to Merriam-Webster for a definitive spelling on that other popular word for tuchus. “The Coastal Point: The local voice of your community for all things buttocks-related.”)
Tresler, ladies and gentlemen, developed the cut, copy and paste functions, as well as search-and-replace. In other words, he created a way for the most imperfect of us to quickly get our keisters out of hot water when our writing stumbles down a crazy rabbit hole of digressions and general gobbledygook.
So, yeah, he’s kind of a personal hero.
It wasn’t just the aforementioned functions that Tesler contributed to the world, either. He was part of an innovative team at Xerox that, according to CNN, “developed much of the technology that led to the personal computer.” In 1980, he left Xerox for Apple, where he rose to become vice president and chief scientist. While there, Tesler helped design the Macintosh computer, QuickTime and the Lisa computer.
“I have been mistakenly identified as the ‘father of the graphical user interface for the Macintosh,’” he wrote on his website. “I was not. However, a paternity test might expose me as one of its many grandparents.”
He stayed at Apple until 1997, then joined Amazon.com a few years later as vice president of shopping experience. He later took a vice president position at Yahoo, before “retiring” to consulting opportunities with Western Union and note-taking app Evernote. So, yeah, he did OK for himself in the world of Silicon Valley.
But it is the quick ability to fix mistakes that will forever earn him a significant place in my heart, and that’s not just me blowing sunshine up his derriere (and, yes, I can do this all day).
While we’re on this topic, let’s digress ourselves out into a few more inventions of note over the past 30 years or so, and celebrate some of the people behind them. And, if I originally get them in the wrong order, fear not — I can simply cut-and-paste them where they need to go. So, thanks, Larry Tresler.
For starters, let’s take a moment out of our respective days to pay tribute to Sir Tim Berness-Lee, a computer scientist credited with inventing the World Wide Web in 1989. He saw that people were connecting to computers around the world via the Internet, but realized he could use hypertext to allow him to share information easily, and the first website was thus created.
Think about how much the world has changed, thanks to his contributions. We do massive amounts of commerce through websites, visit doctors remotely, couples fall in love and start families, and we entertain ourselves at home through streaming services and other sites. Thanks to social media sites, people who have not seen each other for decades can re-connect; sports and news sites allow for instant access to information; and we can monitor the weather either locally or in that destination we plan to visit shortly.
And, let’s not forget this, the World Wide Web has also allowed us to reach new lows in human discourse as we rip each other to shreds, so, yeah, there’s that. And my daughter and I have had massive fistfights in the living room over my refusal to let her watch YouTube videos all night. And terrorists have used sites to recruit members, while sickos have targeted children and...
But I digress. Idea of World Wide Web = awesome. Practical use of World Wide Web = probably not reaching its full potential for good.
Of course, the Web would not be as easily navigated if it weren’t for a mechanism in place to properly search it, and we saw companies like Yahoo, Lycos and Ask Jeeves all have their time in the sun. But Google... oh, Google. Pure impact.
For an example, and purely in the interests of science, I attempted an experiment on Google. I typed in the words, “handsome bald editors” and received 3,070,000 results in 0.63 seconds. Sure, that’s probably a little overkill, considering the query could have been satisfied with simply a picture of yours truly, but you get the point — there is a massive amount of information available with just a few clicks — thanks to the work of Larry Page and Sergey Brin, who met in college at Stanford.
My friend Ryan and I met in college. We invented a game where we drank a beer every time a bill collector called our apartment. We played it a lot.
Man, I’d like to cut and paste that entire last paragraph somewhere else. Like, you know, anywhere else.