Artifact Details


Tesler, Larry (Lawrence Gordon) oral history

Catalog Number





2013-02-13; 2013-04-22


Dennis, Eric, Videographer
Fortier, James, Videographer
Kossow, Al, Interviewer
Tesler, Larry, Interviewee


Computer History Museum

Place of Publication

Mountain View, California


50 p.



Copyright Holder

Computer History Museum


This interview begins with a brief discussion of Larry Tesler’s early years at the Bronx High School of Science, at which he was first exposed to computers. Tesler went on to Stanford University to major in mathematics, graduating in 1965. He began working at the Stanford Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (SAIL) as a consultant the following year, after running a small software consulting business while still a student.

It was in 1968 that the historic Doug Engelbart “Mother of all Demos” took place at the Fall Joint Computer Conference in San Francisco in which a dramatic vision of future computing was presented. Tesler comments on the Demo and its influence, with particular reference to the use of “modes” in computing generally and the controversies over their use at Xerox and Apple Computer.

Tesler then describes his work at the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) on the POLOS and PUB projects, Smalltalk and NoteTaker and the creation of the first graphical IDE (Integrated Development Environment), an essential tool for programmers.

Tesler moved to Apple Computer, Inc. in July, 1980, in part because of PARC’s demo of Alto and other technology to Apple’s CEO Steve Jobs, which resulted in a crash program (Lisa) at Apple to incorporate PARC’s graphical user interface (GUI) into a mass-produced computer. Tesler found this appealing. He describes in detail important aspects of the Lisa project, including software development, managing large teams of people as he accepted increasing responsibilities, and extensive user and user experience testing.

Tesler eventually moved to head a new R&D group within Apple called the Advanced Technology Group. He discusses some of Apple’s successful and failed products and the challenges of managing a complex research organization. He concludes with a brief discussion of later work at Amazon and Yahoo.




Bronx High School of Science; IBM 650 (Computer); Stanford University; Information Processing Corporation; SAIL (Stanford Artificial Intelligence Laboratory); Stanford Research Institute (SRI); Engelbart, Douglas; NLS (oN-Line System); Modes; Free University; ARPANET (Advanced Research Projects Agency Network); Xerox PARC (Palo Alto Research Center); PUB; POLOS (PARC On-Line Office System); Gypsy; Smalltalk; IDE (Integrated Development Environment); NoteTaker; Apple Computer, Inc.; Apple II; Mouse; Lisa (Computer); Apple ATG (Advanced Technology Group); Apple Macintosh; Amazon; Yahoo

Collection Title

Oral history collection

Lot Number