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Everyone who's ever used Windows knows how to use the shortcut Control-Alt-Delete. The handy key combination can salvage a frozen program or slow performance in just a few moments. But it's not actually that easy to push, requiring two hands to carry out its function. Have you ever wondered why? Bill Gates recently revealed that the command was actually a mistake.
ABC News reports that in an interview at Harvard University, Gates admitted, "We could have had a single button, but the guy who did the IBM keyboard design didn't want to give us our single button. We programmed at a low level. ... It was a mistake."
David Bradley, the IBM PC engineer who designed the computer in 1980, also revealed that the function was only supposed to be accessed in the development of the computer. "It was originally intended to be what we would now call an Easter Egg," he said.
Originally, Control-Alt-Delete was created to efficiently reboot a computer, reports Geek Wire. Now, the function is used for logging in to a computer.
So why did the command stick? “Why they used it for the log-in also, I don’t know,” Bradley said. “I guess it made sense for them.”
Gates did comment on the reason for having a three-key combination for the function, saying that they could have used just a single button for login.
“You want to have something you do with the keyboard that is signaling to a very low level of the software — actually hard-coded in the hardware — that it really is bringing in the operating system you expect, instead of just a funny piece of software that puts up a screen that looks like a log-in screen, and then it listens to your password and then it’s able to do that,” Gates said.
The command continues to be used in Windows systems, including Windows 8.
Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons