Life Before Twitter

I've been messing around with computers since around 1980. I've seen a lot of changes over the years.

I created this site to show some people what it was like in the "Frontier" days and what the future may hold for us.


Update:  December 18th 2018
Life Before Twitter will be made into a documentary film.  It will be the 8th documentary film I've created as part of The Documentary Factory.  It will study all aspects of and the history of the digital era,  as well as what the future might hold for us.

Coming soon - In the meantime, please check out our other documentary films


I have conceived of, and written a lot of documentary films, sometimes as many as three a week.  This is in addition to the many other commercial, narrative and TV series work I do.

I've also written several narrative films and a few TV series, but they can't be discussed here.

Interested in picking up one or more of these properties? Mark

The Documentary Factory which is a division of AVS Production Company has many films which are either in production or pre-production. They are:

Life Is EL - Living and working under and around the elevated train tracks in New York City (In Production)

Step Streets - Where did the Street go? (In Production)

Education In Smithtown - Lots of pencils, lots of books, and we loved our teacher's dirty looks (In Production)

Sake in America - The love for and growth of what used to be a Japanese exclusive drink in America (In Production)

Scams Are Us - You have it, we'll take it (In Production)

In Search of Whale Vomit - It'll help you smell better (Pre-Production)

Oh Deer - How we live with our forested friends (In Production)

Life Before Twitter - The history of the digital era (In Production)

Volunteers Of America - Without Volunteers, we would all be in trouble (Pre-Production)

Legendary Smithtown - How a man named Smith settled in for the long ride after a short ride (In Production)

Tea For Two Billion - Our love for the second most consumed beverage in the World (Pre-Production)

The Life Of Death - Who's there at the end (Pre-Production)

Smart Phone, Stupid People - Your phone is getting smarter, but you are getting stupider (Pre-Production)

1 Dollar For You - Yes, you can still get things in NYC for only $1 including great Pizza! (Pre-Production)

The Deadliest Sport - Is Gymnastics the deadliest sport? (Pre-Production)

50 Years of Planting Trees - The history of Earth Day and the related movements (In Production)

The Trees of NYC - Did you know there are over 692,892 trees in NYC? (In Production)

Can It - What's with all that metal around my stuff? (Pre-Production)

Sprout Poop  -  The care, feeding and love for Sprouts and the World's greatest Virtual Air Band (Pre-Production)

Whatever It Takes To Get The Shot - Ken Regan did whatever it took to get the shot (Pre-Production)

It Takes a Second - It can take a second to change your life (Pre-Production)

Drummers - The history of drumming from 5500 B.C. to today (Pre-Production)

Gridded City - Why cities around the World are laid out in grids (Pre-Production)

Blocks of Glass - Why glass blocks are all the rage in construction (Pre-Production)

New York City Subway Art - There are over 342 permanent works of art in the system (Pre-Production)

Roller Derby Kids - Growing up as a child of Roller Derby parents (Pre-Production)

Bill Graham's Gift - He provided us with decades of great music (Pre-Production)

Sous Vide - Is this the best cooking technique? (In Production)

Too Old to Rock and Report, Too Young to Retire - Ageism and discrimination in the news media (Pre-Production)

Garden Bay Manor - One of the most serene neighborhoods in NYC with a rich history (Pre-Production)

It's Still a Long Strange Trip - The Psychedelic Culture still exists (Pre-Production)

This device was the beginning of receiving emails anywhere and everywhere—curse you RIM 950!

The RIM 950 Two-Way Pager, released in 1998, was among the very first devices to be able to send and receive e-mail messages wirelessly. Before cell phones, pagers were a primary means of rapid notification and response in emergencies. The e-mail feature contributed to the pager’s gain in popularity as a social and business tool. Anyone remember using one of these?

RIM 950 R900M-2-PW Two-Way Pager; Manufactured by Research in Motion; 1998


I'm very sad to hear of the death of Larry Tesler, the computing pioneer behind cut, copy, paste, find and replace and more.  These are some of my most frequently used keyboard commands and mouse clicks.  This entire site was created mainly by copying and pasting text and photographs.  RIP Larry and thank you for the time saved in my life.

Computer Scientist Who Invented Cut, Copy And Paste Dies Aged 74

BY : CAMERON FREW ON : 20 FEB 2020 07:29

Computer Scientist Who Invented Cut, Copy And Paste Dies Aged 74News18/Wikimedia

Larry Tesler, the computing pioneer behind cut, copy and paste, has died at the age of 74. 

The IT whizz was born in the Bronx, New York, in 1945, and later studied computer science at Stanford University in California. Tesler’s prime focus was always human-computer interaction (aka user interface design), putting his skill-set to work at the likes of Amazon, Apple, Yahoo, and the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center (PARC).

PARC announced his death on Wednesday, February 19, with the company praising Tesler’s ‘revolutionary ideas’. If you use a computer day-to-day, it’s hard to imagine living without cut, copy and paste.

The inventor of cut/copy & paste, find & replace, and more was former Xerox researcher Larry Tesler. Your workday is easier thanks to his revolutionary ideas. Larry passed away Monday, so please join us in celebrating him. Photo credit: Yahoo CC-By-2.0 

View image on Twitter

 Xerox’s full tweet read: ‘The inventor of cut/copy and paste, find and replace, and more was former Xerox researcher Larry Tesler. Your workday is easier thanks to his revolutionary ideas. Larry passed away Monday, so please join us in celebrating him.’Tesler’s illustrious career kicked off at Xerox, however it wasn’t long before Apple’s Steve Jobs noticed his talents and nabbed him for the tech behemoth in 1980. As well as spending 17 years at the company, becoming chief scientist in 1993, it was also there he conjured the cut, copy and paste command.  Rest In Peace to Larry Tesler ,the Computer scientist behind cut, copy and paste. He showed Steve Jobs the Xerox PARC systems that would inspire the Macintosh. He was a major contributor to key Macintosh software including QuickTime, AppleScript and Bill Atkinson's HyperCardView image on TwitterView image on TwitterView image on Twitter


If you’re somehow unaware of the everyday computing command, it’s the process of either removing or copying a section of text, and then placing it elsewhere. It was first integrated into Apple’s software on the Lisa computer in 1983, then the original Macintosh that was released the following year.

The Computer History Museum in Silicon Valley tweeted: ‘Today we also bid farewell to computing visionary Larry Tesler. Tesler created the idea of cut, copy and paste and combined computer science training with a counterculture vision that computers should be for everyone.’

He wrote on his website: ‘I have been mistakenly identified as the father of the graphical user interface for the Macintosh. I was not. However, a paternity test might expose me as one of its many grandparents.’

View image on Twitter


In 1997, Tesler left Apple and worked at Stagecast, an education software start-up spun out of his time at the tech giant, then also spending time at Amazon, Yahoo, and 23andMe. Since 2009, he had been a UX consultant based in California.

Back in 2012, when commenting on the nature of Silicon Valley, Tesler told the BBC: ‘There’s almost a rite of passage – after you’ve made some money, you don’t just retire, you spend your time funding other companies. There’s a very strong element of excitement, of being able to share what you’ve learned with the next generation.

The cause of Tesler’s death has not been released. RIP.

1982 report tries to explain home computers | WABC-TV Vault


Today,  March 12th 2019 is the 30th anniversary of the World Wide Web (WWW)

Today,  September 27th 2018 is the 20th anniversary of Google Search.  Did you know Google is a verb?


Happy 10th Anniversary Facebook!

Screen Shot 2014-02-03 at 3.47.27 PM

Founded February 4th, 2004

It is another sad day as the inventor of the device you used to get to this page has died.

The earliest Computer Mouse

It was unveiled in 1968 by Douglas C. Engelbart

Douglas C Engelbart Inventor of the Computer Mouse

Thanks Doug. You were someone who really clicked with the world.

Arpanet Directory

What the internet looked like in 1982: A closer look at Danny Hillis’ vintage directory of users

Today we lost another pioneer in the computing world, Jack Tramiel 1928 – 2012

He wasn’t nearly as well-known as Steve Jobs or Bill Gates but Jack Tramiel, founder of Commodore, was just as important. Mr. Tramiel gave his computers exactly what they needed and nothing else. Commodore’s popular C64 was functional, inexpensive, and downright ugly. This is exactly what Tramiel wanted. He wanted products that got the job done with no regard to aesthetics. Tramiel was forced out of Commodore and bought Atari where he produced the Atari ST in direct competition with Commodore, Macintosh, IBM PC platforms of the time. From his humble beginnings making typewriters and LED watches, he made a lasting contribution to the world of personal computers. He is survived by his wife Helen and three sons.

Commodore C64


Four great BBC Radio shows on the early days of computing

The Strange Birth and Long Life of Unix

Thank you very much Steve

Sad Apple


Life Before Computers

It looks like LifeBeforeTwitter is not that long ago as it just turned 5 today, March 21st, 2011. Happy Birthday Twitter!

Happy 5th Birthday Twitter

Happy 5th #Birthday @Twitter

(CNN) -- The message was cryptic. Two words. No context, no punctuation, just: "inviting coworkers"

But that short statement proved to be enough to launch a global phenomenon that has launched careers, reunited long-lost relatives, and even, some would argue, topple dictators.

It was the first tweet.

Since Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey posted it on March 21, 2006, Twitter has registered nearly 200 million users who now post more than a billion tweets every week.

Dorsey has spent the last few days tweeting a timeline of sorts, sharing what he was doing just before the big launch.

On Sunday, he tweeted: "5 yrs ago today, the eve of launching twttr to the company. Moving from @Biz, @florian & me, to all of our peers using it. Nervous. #twttr"

His anxiety certainly paid off.

Since its launch, Twitter has played a role in a wide range of headline-making events, from the Egyptian revolution to Charlie Sheen's battle with CBS.

It's also become a business tool, with many major companies now using accounts to advertise deals and encourage word-of-mouth marketing.

Twitter's importance in communication was made plain during the moments after Japan's earthquake and tsunami this month.

Twitter says it set a record of 6,939 tweets per second immediately after the 9.0-magnitude quake struck on March 11, and 177 million tweets went out as the day wore on.

It took three years, two months and a day for Twitter to get to one billion tweets. The site now averages 140 million tweets a day.

Twitter is a privately-held company, so its finances are not made public. Last month, the Wall Street Journal reported that suitors were valuing it at $8 to $10 billion.

This is friggin awesome:


Thanks to my friend Joshua Hatton for posting this.

Great article by Guy Kawasaki about the different Twitter Types.

Life Waaaaay before Twitter. Did Archie marry Veronica? What was the outcome of that recent announcement? Confused? Just Gopher it. That's what we used to say before Google became a verb. Archie, Veronica and Gopher were the terms for some of the tools that I used to search the Internet for articles and files. Just around the same time that one of my favorite movies, Groundhog Day was released, there was a different kind of Gopher running around. This article is also from 1993 and offers some definitions.

In honor of the 40th anniversary of the occurrence this event, I am posting this New York Times Op-Ed article: How the Internet Got Its Rules. Enjoy.