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Famous keyboard shortcut was a mistake, says Bill Gates

Flickr user Johan Larsson

Photo by Flickr user Johan Larsson

So you’re browsing NewsHour’s Rundown Blog and all of a sudden everything freezes. Your computer doesn’t want to respond. Your fingers snap to reboot action, hitting Ctrl + Alt + Del, before your brain can even compute.

That combination, however, was a mistake, says Microsoft founder Bill Gates.

“We could’ve had a single button, but the guy who did the IBM keyboard design didn’t want to give us our single button,” said Gates during a discussion at Harvard University on Sept. 21. “It was a mistake.”

It turns out the shortcut was created during the creation of the original IBM PC by designer David Bradley. When the architects were testing software, it often froze, requiring a quick reboot. Bradley programmed in the three-button shortcut as a quick fix and left it in as an easter egg. The rest is history.

“It was like a five-minute job,” said Bradley, “I didn’t realize I was going to create a cultural icon when I did it.”

H/T Justin Scuiletti

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