History of Computing: Who invented copy and paste?

Mudassir Ali
Feb 04, 2020 03:52 PM 0 Answers
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Mudassir Ali
- Feb 04, 2020 03:52 PM

I don’t know who did, but I can put a later time bound on it.

In 1969, I worked with an in-memory text editor used to edit paper tapes (typically containing assembler source code) on a Data General computer. It would read a big chunk of tape (hundreds of lines, a lot at the time) into the buffer; you could edit the buffer contents and then output to a new tape. This let you edit one paper tape (by definition read-only) onto another new tape. You could also hold onto a buffer and output it later, effectively altering the order of the text on the new tape with respect to the old. We used that lot to rearrange code on a paper tape, and to do copy-and-paste. I think Dan Paymar wrote this editor sometime in 1968.

I would be supremely suprised if somebody had not built on-line editors for earlier machines (PDP-8, PDP-7, Unisys 1100, famed Multics systems, etc.).

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