Lawrence Gordon Tesler (April 24, 1945 – February 16, 2020) was an American computer scientist who worked in the field of human–computer interaction. Tesler had worked at Xerox PARC, Apple, Amazon, and Yahoo!.
Tesler had a strong preference for modeless software, in which a user's action has a consistent effect, rather than changing its meaning depending on previous actions, as in the vi text editor. His Gypsy editor, for example, provided a 'click and type' interface in which the user could, at any time, enter text at the current insertion point, or click where the insertion point should be repositioned. Previously, most editors used the keyboard to enter text or to issue commands, depending on the current mode. To promote his preference, as of 2010, Tesler equipped his automobile with a personalized California license plate with the license number "NO MODES". Along with others, he had also been using the phrase "Don't Mode Me In" for years, as a rally cry to eliminate or reduce modes.
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Tesler grew up in New York City and graduated from the Bronx High School of Science in 1961. He went on to Stanford University, where he studied computer science in the 1960s, and worked for a time at the Stanford Artificial Intelligence Laboratory. With Horace Enea he designed Compel, an early single assignment language. This functional programming language was intended to make concurrent processing more natural and was used to introduce programming concepts to beginners.
In the late 1960s, Tesler became involved in the Midpeninsula Free University, where he delivered classes about topics such as How to end the IBM Monopoly, Computers Now, and Procrastination.
In the 1970s, from 1973 to 1980, Tesler worked at Xerox PARC, where some of his main projects were the Gypsy word processor and Smalltalk. Copy and paste was first implemented in 1973-1976 by Tesler and Tim Mott, while they were working on Gypsy for Xerox Palo Alto Research Center.
In 1980, Tesler moved to Apple Computer, holding various positions including Vice President of AppleNet, Vice President of the Advanced Technology Group, and Chief Scientist. He worked on the Lisa team, and was enthusiastic about the development of the Macintosh as the successor to the Lisa.
In 1985, Tesler worked with Niklaus Wirth on adding object-oriented language extensions to the Pascal programming language, calling the new language Object Pascal. He was also involved in the development of the MacApp, one of the first class libraries for application development. Eventually, these two technologies became Apple products.
Starting in 1990, Tesler led the efforts of developing the Apple Newton, initially as Vice President of the Advanced Development Group, and then as Vice President of the Personal Interactive Electronics division.
In 1991, Tesler contributed the article "Networked Computing in the 1990s" to Scientific American Special Issue on Communications, Computers, and Networks, September 1991.
Tesler left Apple in 1997 to co-found Stagecast Software, which allowed him to 'use' his enthusiasm for kids' programming and use of computers, an enthusiasm he acquired mainly at Xerox PARC, where he worked in Alan Kay's Learning Research Group.
Tesler joined Amazon in 2001; in 2004, he became the company's Vice President of Shopping Experience. In 2005, he joined Yahoo! as Vice President of Yahoo!'s User Experience and Design group.
In November 2008, Tesler left Yahoo to join personal genetics information company 23andMe, as Product Fellow. From December 2009, he was an independent consultant. Tesler died in February 2020 at the age of 74.
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Larry Tesler.
List of programmers
List of computer scientists
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