Bill Gates Says Ctrl+Alt+Delete is IBM's Fault

Ctrl + Alt + Del. You've probably done it hundreds of times over the years you've been using computers. But did you know that Bill Gates never wanted that sequence to exist in the first place? Apparently, Gates wanted the function of Ctrl + Alt + Delete to be taken care of with a single button. Unfortunately, IBM's keyboard design didn't allow for it.

"It was a mistake," the Verge quotes Gates as saying during an interview at a Harvard fundraising campaign. "We could have had a single button, but the guy who did the IBM keyboard design didn't wanna give us our single button."

Despite Gates' admission that he sees the combination as a mistake, it still exists on Windows machines today. The engineer that came up with it is David Bradley, who worked as a designer on early IBM computers. According to CNN, Bradley says they didn't mean for it to be available outside of development.

"I originally intended for it to be what we would now call an Easter egg -- just something we were using in development and it wouldn't be available elsewhere," Bradley said in 2011. "But then (software publishers) found out about it. They were trying to figure out how to tell somebody to start up one of their programs, and they had the answer. Just put the diskette in, hit Control-Alt-Delete, and by magic your program starts."

Bill Gates left Microsoft Gates stepped down from his position as CEO of Microsoft in January of 2000 and instead filled the role of 'Chief Software Architect.' In 2008, he stopped working full-time at Microsoft to focus more on his philanthropy.

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  • funguseater
    There were a number of functions attached to ctrl + alt. How would adding an extra key simplify the user experience without endangering your data (its easy to hit a single button by mistake but a combo is much harder to accidentally push)? Not sure of the point to this story, Bill Gates doesn't like it... who cares. And Ctrl+Alt+Delete was for rebooting the machine not specifically for starting a program unless it had its own boot environment.
  • sean1357
    Windows 8 couldn't sale much, so he blames IBM for that...
  • weierstrass
    How about writing less buggy software and making the combination useless?
  • Kieran Warren
    they still could have changed it to a single button years ago. Just have support for both so that old keyboards can do ctrl+alt+del and the newer ones would do button 'x'
  • dextermat
    I think Ctrl+Alt+Delete is a great mistake. On windows 98, if you do it twice, it reboots the computer. How many times did win 98 froze and the only thing that worked was "Ctrl+Alt+Delete"

    Same thing with xp, vista, 7 and 8. If your trouble shooting, removing viruses. Most of the time it's a great tool!
  • giovanni86
    That combination is used by me more than a hundred times.. More likely I've hit those 3 keys thousands or even a million times. It does what it was intended to do. Get me out of pickles with my PC.
  • PhilFrisbie
    The suggestion that Ctrl-Alt-Del could have been replaced with a single key is ignorant of its function. I don't care who is saying it!
  • AMDRadeonHD
    It's awesome what people learn in life.
  • anonymous_user
    "Bill Gates left Microsoft Gates stepped down from his position as CEO of Microsoft"

    Ummm what?
  • stevejnb
    Meh, I'm with whoever designed the IBM keyboard. Ctrl-alt-delete as one button would be worse than the accidental clicks of the sleep mode buttons some keyboards have. Huge pain in the arse and then you're trying to figure out what the heck happened as your screen suddenly goes blank.