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The Origin of Control-Alt-Delete

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Control-Alt-Delete (often abbreviated to Ctrl-Alt-Del) is a computer keyboard command on IBM PC compatible systems that can be used to reboot the computer. It is given by simultaneously pressing the Control, Alt, and Delete keys. It can also be used to summon the task manager or Windows Security in more recent versions of Windows. This keyboard combination was designed by David Bradley , a designer of the original IBM PC. Bradley originally designed Control-Alt-Escape to trigger a soft reboot, but he found it was too easy to bump the left side of the keyboard and reboot the computer accidentally. He switched the key combination to Control-Alt-Delete, a combination impossible to press with just one hand (this is not true of later keyboards, such as the 102-key PC/AT keyboard or the Maltron keyboard). More advanced operating systems use its status as a "reserved" combination for various purposes, but often retain the ability to trigger a soft reboot in certain configurations or circumstances. David Bradley is also known for his good-natured job at Bill Gates, at that time the CEO of Microsoft, and also the creator of many of Microsoft's programs: "I may have invented Control-Alt-Delete, but Bill [Gates] made it famous", alluding to the three keystrokes required to reboot a crashed operating system or close crashed programs in most Microsoft operating systems.