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As the inventor of copy and paste dies, here are other computing innovations we take for granted
He's also credited by some as having coined the phrase "user-friendly."
Larry Tesler invented cut and paste, and coined the phrase "user-friendly".
His career in the technology sector spanned 50 years and was witness to many innovations that are now part of our daily lives.
In 1961, Larry Tesler went to study at Stanford University, which itself has been pivotal to the growth of Silicon Valley. It's where Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard met before founding the company that bears their name; Larry Page and Sergey Brin, the founders of Google, studied there too, as did Elon Musk.
Tesler worked at some of the biggest names in Silicon Valley: Apple, Xerox, and Yahoo. He also worked briefly at Amazon.
The pioneering computer scientist believed passionately that computers needed to be easy to use, and is credited by some as having coined the phrase "user-friendly".
In the 1970s, he developed the cut/copy and paste function that is now so widely used that it's hard to imagine not being able to Ctrl-X/Ctrl-C and Ctrl-V.
Here are some of the biggest innovations in computing the world has seen since Tesler first started at Stanford...
1. Mouse tales
One of the other big computing breakthroughs of the 1970s took place at the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center (PARC), where Tesler worked. It was the mouse. Although the initial concept for the mouse dates back to the work of Douglas Engelbart in the 1960s, the device was refined at Xerox, where the first ball-mouse was developed.
The mouse revolutionized the way people interact with computers, getting away from the purely text-driven approach and ushering in the era of the graphical user interface that we are all familiar with today.
2. You've got mail
Email was invented in the mid-1960s, too, and has become one of the most ubiquitous features of modern life. Some would say a little too ubiquitous.
Every minute of every day, 188 million emails are sent and more than half of them are spam. In the early 1970s, when the @ symbol was first integrated into email addressing protocols, the only people with access to an email mailbox were users of The Advanced Research Projects Agency Network (ARPANET). That was the first wide-area network and connected dozens of universities across the United States.
3. On the move
The chances are you're reading this on something other than a desktop. Everyone takes for granted the ability to take their computer with them, whether it's a laptop, a tablet or even their smartphone.
The very first vision for a mobile computer dates back to the 1970s, when Alan Kay, a researcher at Xerox PARC, had an idea for something he called the Dynabook. Apart from a cardboard mock-up, nothing came of it. But in 1981, the world was introduced to the Osborne 1 – the first portable computer. It had a 13cm screen that could only display 52 characters on each line of text. If you wanted one, it would have set you back $1,795.
It was basic by any modern standards, but the Osborne 1 sounded the starting pistol for the race to produce better mobile computers. By the end of the 1980s, several brands were producing their own, including Kyocera, Epson and Apple.
This was a period of innovation that saw the very first touchpad – it appeared on the Gavilan SC, launched in 1983 and the first computer to be referred to as a laptop.
The 1990s was the boom-decade for laptops. The chip-maker Intel designed the first processor specifically for mobile devices and many big-name computer makers started to produce laptops based on mass-produced components, such as screens, processors and circuit boards.
And then, a little over 10 years ago, the world was introduced to the ultimate in mobile computing devices – the smartphone as we know it now. There are currently more than 3 billion smartphones around the world, their user-friendliness being one of the key factors in their tremendous success.
4. A super-connected future
The next big wave in technology is already lapping at our ankles: fifth-generation (5G) mobile technology, which is predicted togenerate around $3.6 trillion of economic output and create 22.3 million jobs by 2035.
It will play an important role in the growth of smart cities and the Fourth Industrial Revolution. It could even assist progress toward some of the United Nation's Sustainable Development Goals. And over the next five years, investments in 5G networks are likely to reach $1 trillion.
The UN's Sustainable Development Goal 12 calls for responsible consumption and production, to reduce waste and preserve resources. 5G is already helping cut waste in smart factories. Its role in managing smart cities, where sensors collect data on the daily hustle and bustle of city life will help reduce congestion and emissions by keeping traffic moving, too.
It also has the potential to revolutionize the provision of multiple vital services such as education and healthcare by connecting people to one another, and to devices that can gather important information. Clinicians will be able to assess a person's vital signs – heart rate, blood pressure, breathing and more – in real-time, no matter how far from the patient they happen to be.
A cave in France contains man’s earliest-known structures that had to be built by Neanderthals who were believed to be incapable of such things.
In a French cave deep underground, scientists have discovered what appear to be 176,000-year-old man-made structures. That's 150,000 years earlier than any that have been discovered anywhere before. And they could only have been built by Neanderthals, people who were never before considered capable of such a thing.
Water may be far more abundant on the lunar surface than previously thought.
- Scientists have long thought that water exists on the lunar surface, but it wasn't until 2018 that ice was first discovered on the moon.
- A study published Monday used NASA's Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy to confirm the presence of molecular water..
- A second study suggests that shadowy regions on the lunar surface may also contain more ice than previously thought.
Credits: NASA/Daniel Rutter<p>Still, it's not as if the moon is dripping wet. The observations suggest that a cubic meter of the lunar surface (in the Clavius crater site, at least) contains water in concentrations of 100 to 412 parts per million. That's roughly equivalent to a 12-ounce bottle of water. In comparison, the same plot of land in the Sahara desert contains about 100 times more water.</p><p>But a second study suggests other parts of the lunar surface also contain water — and potentially lots of it. Also publishing their findings in <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41550-020-1198-9#_blank" target="_blank">Nature Astronomy</a> on Monday, the researchers used the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter to study "cold traps" near the moon's polar regions. These areas of the lunar surface are permanently covered in shadows. In fact, about 0.15 percent of the lunar surface is permanently shadowed, and it's here that water could remain frozen for millions of years.</p><p>Some of these permanently shadowed regions are huge, extending more than a kilometer wide. But others span just 1 cm. These smaller "micro cold traps" are much more abundant than previously thought, and they're spread out across more regions of the lunar surface, according to the new research.</p>
Credit: dottedyeti via AdobeStock<p>Still, the second study didn't confirm that ice is embedded in micro cold traps. But if there is, it would mean that water would be much more accessible to astronauts, considering they wouldn't have to travel into deep, shadowy craters to extract water.</p><p>Greater accessibility to water would not only make it easier for astronauts to get drinking water, but could also enable them to generate rocket fuel and power.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"Water is a valuable resource, for both scientific purposes and for use by our explorers," said Jacob Bleacher, chief exploration scientist in the advanced exploration systems division for NASA's Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate, in a statement. "If we can use the resources at the Moon, then we can carry less water and more equipment to help enable new scientific discoveries."</p>