The clipboard is nothing more than a temporary storage location maintained by the operating system into which things can be placed (copied), and from which things can be retrieved (pasted).
Things are placed into the clipboard by an operation referred to as a “copy”. For example a text selection in a document can be copied to the clipboard, which literally makes a copy of the selection and places that copy into the temporary storage location.
Things are retrieved from the clipboard by what’s called a “paste” operation. For example the current contents of the clipboard can be copied from the clipboard and placed at the location of the insertion or edit point when editing a document.
The “cut” operation which is often presented along site copy and paste is nothing more than a copy followed by a delete — the selected information is first copied into the clipboard, and then the original is removed.
In Windows the clipboard can be quite complex, as it also facilitates conversions between various formats of the same information, for example providing both rich and plain text versions of selections made in a word processing document.
A clipboard is a thin, rigid board with a clip at the top for holding paper in place. A clipboard is typically used to support paper with one hand while writing on it with the other, especially when other writing surfaces are not available. The earliest forms were patented in 1870-71 and referred to as board clips. Related to the clipboard is the Shannon Arch File, which was developed around 1877.