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Ctrl-Alt-Del Inventor To Retire From IBM 459

Posted by simoniker
from the resetting-into-his-dotage dept.
wherley writes "AP reports that IBM'er David Bradley, who came up with the (in)famous Ctrl-Alt-Delete key combination, is retiring. The article mentions: 'At a 20-year celebration for the IBM PC, Bradley was on a panel with Microsoft founder Bill Gates and other tech icons. The discussion turned to the keys. 'I may have invented it, but Bill made it famous,' Bradley said. Gates didn't laugh. The key combination also is used when software, such as Microsoft's Windows operating system, fails'." We featured a story on Bradley a few months back.
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Ctrl-Alt-Del Inventor To Retire From IBM

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  • by Idou (572394) * on Thursday January 29, 2004 @02:33AM (#8121258) Journal
    I would be staring at blue screen all day at work.

    Thanks . . . I think . . .
  • don't you hate it when it's so wedged that even that doesn't work, and you need to pull the plug? -dB
    • I hate computers that don't have a reset button and pressing the power button doesn't always turn the computer off. So that when it's really stuck like that, and ctrl-alt-del doesn't work, you gotta pull the plug. I'd get really mad, it almost became personal, as if the computer was saying "You can't restart until I'm good and ready." Thank goodness for the reset button, for saving the effort of reaching behind the computer.
  • by telstar (236404) on Thursday January 29, 2004 @02:34AM (#8121263)
    Don't worry ... even if Bradley invented it, and Gates made it famous ... someone will be granted a patent for it a few years from now.
  • Salute! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Bombcar (16057) <racbmobNO@SPAMbombcar.com> on Thursday January 29, 2004 @02:34AM (#8121266) Homepage Journal
    Creator of the Three-Finger-Salute, we salute thee!

    (Anyone else get bit by the Linux will reboot with CRTL-ALT-DEL, but Win NT 4-XP will ask for Logon? I've rebooted machines on KVM switches by accident many a time, especially if I can't remap the salute like I usually do!)
    • Didn't Bill Gates purposely make the logon for Win NT use ctrl-alt-del as a sort of joke, as a way of saying to the computer world, "i know this is used all the time to reboot, but now windows is so good, it will handle ctrl-alt-del the way i want it to", or something to that effect? I heard this from someone but not sure if it's true or not.
      • I think it's because ctrl-alt-del creates an interrupt request. It goes straight to the OS and can't be intercepted by random software.

        Safer login--you know you are logging into the real deal and not some fake password box.
        • Uhh, the entire keyboard fires teh same interrupt, if I remember correctly.... int 09h I believe.
        • More precisely... (Score:5, Informative)

          by Ayanami Rei (621112) <rayanami @ g m a i l .com> on Thursday January 29, 2004 @03:20AM (#8121473) Journal
          it can't be handled by any input APIs (Win32/DirectInput)... it gets handled directly by the keyboard driver.

          This kind of keystroke is called SAK (Secure Attention Key), as it's not specific to Windows NT.
          SAK is an keystroke (or other event, for example sending "break" on a Sun serial port) that the OS guarantees only the Operating System can ever handle.
          • Re:More precisely... (Score:5, Interesting)

            by CTho9305 (264265) on Thursday January 29, 2004 @09:58AM (#8123012) Homepage
            it can't be handled by any input APIs (Win32/DirectInput)... it gets handled directly by the keyboard driver.

            Close, but not exactly correct. It gets handled by "msgina".dll, which is loaded before logon, before anything else. msgina hooks the keyboard IO, and then traps any ctrl+alt+del presses before they reach other running programs. Modified versions of msgina.dll can be used to allow other programs to receive ctrl+alt+del presses.

            This page [216.239.53.104] gives a brief explanation of how things like Novell catch ctrl+alt+del, by replacing msgina.dll.
    • Re:Salute! (Score:5, Informative)

      by prockcore (543967) on Thursday January 29, 2004 @02:51AM (#8121343)
      (Anyone else get bit by the Linux will reboot with CRTL-ALT-DEL, but Win NT 4-XP will ask for Logon? I've rebooted machines on KVM switches by accident many a time, especially if I can't remap the salute like I usually do!)

      You mentioned remapping the salute, but it was vague on which OS you meant, so I thought I'd just clarify.

      You can change the program that is run when you press CTL-ALT-DEL on Linux by editing /etc/inittab

      • Re:Salute! (Score:3, Informative)

        by piranha(jpl) (229201)
        You mentioned remapping the salute, but it was vague on which OS you meant, so I thought I'd just clarify.

        You can change the program that is run when you press CTL-ALT-DEL on Linux by editing /etc/inittab

        To actually change the key sequences, change what gets mapped to 'Boot' in your kernel keymaps file. On Debian, this is /etc/console/boottime.kmap.gz; I'm not sure about others.

    • by Dukael_Mikakis (686324) <andrewfoerster&gmail,com> on Thursday January 29, 2004 @03:00AM (#8121382)
      ... they just reboot.
    • by codepunk (167897) on Thursday January 29, 2004 @03:20AM (#8121475)
      One of the first thing a "REAL" linux administrator does is to disable that functionality in the hint, "inittab" . Change the binding to something like echo "Simulating stupid MCSE computer repair"
  • *jealous* (Score:5, Funny)

    by SinaSa (709393) on Thursday January 29, 2004 @02:35AM (#8121270) Homepage
    This is the only guy on the planet who can pick up girls in an internet cafe. Just walk in, smooth tone, slow walk.

    "You know I invented CTRL ALT DEL?"
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Especially if he tells them: "I used this combination because it is easy to do with one hand. I can even do it in the dark."
    • by gad_zuki! (70830) on Thursday January 29, 2004 @02:45AM (#8121323)
      >"You know I invented CTRL ALT DEL?"

      You just know that when he does try that line the girl will either be a mac user or still be running Win98 and the inevitable explanation will be even dorkier. Best to stick with, "I'm highly paid in the tech sector." Avoid saying 'programmer,' wear clean pants, and shower!
    • He doesn't give a flying fuck (pun intended) about the girls anymore.
  • I three finger salute you for your influence on my day to day computing.
  • by lunar_legacy (715938) on Thursday January 29, 2004 @02:36AM (#8121278)
    And who is the inventor of Ctrl-Alt-Backspace?
    • by commodoresloat (172735) on Thursday January 29, 2004 @02:53AM (#8121360)
      Command-Control-Power. Now that's a three-finger salute! The force reboot is where the manliness of the Mac really shines through -- all three keys signify dominance. Linux and windows users have to use the hippy-dippy "alt" key, as in alt.sex and alt.drugs, combined with the "delete" or "backspace" key to signify a total lack of confidence in their own decisions. You wussies don't even have a command key!!!
      • Macs have another great keyboard combo: Command-Option-Escape! On old-school macs it would generally not help, but on OS X it's the friendliest GUI to kill -9 I have ever seen.

        That also reminds me, on OS 9, you could press command-power, and escape to a prompt. The only command I know of was 'go', which would take you to the Finder. Great on the older installs of At Ease :)

        Does CMD-Power work on OS X? Here goes....
        • that prompt sucked, what needed to be installed was , then you could do all sorts of fun commands in the OS wide debugger :D [macupdate.com]

          the great thing about MacsBug is that it automatically invokes itself when anything even thinks about crashing. my server (runs OS 9) has MacsBug installed along with a script that will log debug information and then restart the computer.

          speaking of... that log must be getting pretty full after 4 years of this configuration... /me runs to his server to parse the debugger log
          • (stupid preview and submit buttons being right next to each other.... *grumble*)

            that prompt sucked, what needed to be installed was MacsBug [macupdate.com], then you could do all sorts of fun commands in the OS wide debugger :D

            the great thing about MacsBug is that it automatically invokes itself when anything even thinks about crashing. my server (runs OS 9) has MacsBug installed along with a script that will log debug information and then restart the computer.

            speaking of... that log must be getting pretty full after 4
      • You wussies don't even have a command key!!!

        As a OSX lover, I should laugh...
        As a Linux lover, I should be slightly ticked off...
        As a Windows disliker, I should roll on the floor while laughing...

        So I'll settle for a cross stare, while I laugh (2x) and roll on the floor.
      • by piranha(jpl) (229201) on Thursday January 29, 2004 @04:23AM (#8121682) Homepage
        My favorite mnemonic for that key combination is Control-Flower-Power.
  • Now (Score:5, Funny)

    by Popageorgio (723756) <popsnap@gmail.com> on Thursday January 29, 2004 @02:36AM (#8121279) Homepage
    So Bill, in a clever move, made us push this combination when we log into Windows, conditioning us to expect good things.

    Wait, when we push it, it puts me in Windows...so I'm still associating bad things here.

    • to be pendantic... (Score:2, Informative)

      by eidechse (472174)
      ...that sequence was chosen for security. From http://www.xfocus.net/articles/200103/winnt.pdf :

      "After the SAS [Security Attention Sequence] is triggered in Windows NT, all user-mode programs stop. No program can trap the SAS sequence; it is the sole property of the security subsystem. If a user presses Ctrl+Alt+Del, he can be assured that his information is secure."
      • "After the SAS [Security Attention Sequence] is triggered in Windows NT, all user-mode programs stop. No program can trap the SAS sequence;

        Yeah? Tell that to a misbehaving MSIE or Media player that has decided to arbitrarily start thrashing disk and doing something that on a very old 'nix system I would call a fork() bomb... Press the three-finger salute, and it merely ignores you.

        Of course, both of those, as MS programs, no doubt have special exemptions to any sort of rules keeping normal user-mode c
  • by smu johnson (309071) on Thursday January 29, 2004 @02:37AM (#8121286)
    Yeah... I lost my job cause we were trained to use CTRL-ALT-DELETE to get into some S$S+3M hacking tools for NT but tried it on Linux for a web server computer and not only lost the company a lot of money, but my job as well... :(
  • Credit (Score:5, Funny)

    by decipher_saint (72686) on Thursday January 29, 2004 @02:38AM (#8121290) Homepage
    He should also be credited with solving thousands of Windows support calls...

    "Well, I just don't know... Have you tried rebooting?"
  • by patdabiker (710704) on Thursday January 29, 2004 @02:40AM (#8121302) Homepage
    You know you rely on the ctrl alt del keys if you use windows. About time someone made a keyboard fit to your needs [mac.com].
  • Ctrl-Alt-Del Movie (Score:5, Informative)

    by Rufus211 (221883) <[rufus-slashdot] [at] [hackish.org]> on Thursday January 29, 2004 @02:42AM (#8121311) Homepage
    I don't remember where I got it from, but I have an ASF of the movie. Decided to throw it up on my CMU webspace so lets see if we can /. andrew =)

    CtrlAltDel.asf [cmu.edu]

    Oh, the movie doesn't start 15 seconds for some reason. Wasn't me.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 29, 2004 @02:42AM (#8121313)

    'I may have invented it, but Bill made it famous,' Bradley said.

    Note that Bradley claimed to be referring to the NT logon procedure. Full quote is from this video. [techtv.com]

  • If only Gates knew how many times I had to give it to his windows os.
  • by midshipman_geek (741181) on Thursday January 29, 2004 @02:48AM (#8121334) Homepage
    Why not Alt-Ctrl-Delete or Delete-Alt-Control?

    Not that we can change it now...
  • by Xiar Prime (721325) on Thursday January 29, 2004 @02:51AM (#8121346)
    The most I ever give to Windows is one finger.
  • State of computing (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Lord_Dweomer (648696) on Thursday January 29, 2004 @02:52AM (#8121353) Homepage
    "Bradley was on a panel with Microsoft founder Bill Gates and other tech icons. The discussion turned to the keys. 'I may have invented it, but Bill made it famous,' Bradley said. Gates didn't laugh."

    And thus sums up the state of computing today.

  • by Rolman (120909) on Thursday January 29, 2004 @02:53AM (#8121358)
    I remember Dave Cutler (the man in charge of WindowsNT, also the main VMS developer for DEC), when asked on why did MS use the CTRL-ALT-DEL keyboard combination to log on an NT machine, he said something like: "this combination is sure to be never used by any application". This was taking advantage of the tradition of using it to reboot the computer as everything in the DOS era was running in real mode, so nobody would use it for an application and the NT architecture enabled for the system to intercept it and use it in a supposedly better way. It was thought to be a neat idea.

    Still, I think it was not really clever to teach the end-users such an important keyboard combination. I also remember some users back then thinking it would work the same in 95 as in NT, since both systems' GUI looked so similar.
  • by Rallion (711805) on Thursday January 29, 2004 @02:53AM (#8121359) Journal
    On your typical XP install the salute just brigs up the task manager. Nothing more, nothing less. Doesn't even halt (or even take precedence over, as far as I can tell) other processes.

    I take issue with that, really. I need something a bit more forceful when the program I write does NOT do what it's supposed to.
  • Three keys (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    PrtScn SysRQ
    ScrLk
    Pause Break

    Anyone can tell me what these do???
    • Re:Three keys (Score:3, Informative)

      by Gwala (309968)
      PtrScrn - Used to be used to send the current screen of characters to your printer. Now copies the equivilent of the windows framebuffer to the clipboard.

      SysRq - Not sure on this one, never used it, - possibly from mainframe terminal keyboards.

      Pause - Paused the exeuction of the running program (remember: this was before OS's capable of multitasking), still used occasionally in games.

      Break - killed the current program, well at least it was supposed to. You had to add a CTRL to it when pressing. I believe
    • Re:Three keys (Score:5, Informative)

      by alchemist0405 (697664) <cameron@uniquekings.com> on Thursday January 29, 2004 @03:26AM (#8121499) Homepage
      Hmmm, google is your friend. This page [straightdope.com] covers all three keys, but here is a little description of each:

      The main intent of the Scroll Lock key was to allow scrolling of screen text up, down and presumably sideways using the arrow keys in the days before large displays and graphical scroll bars. You can see where this might have been handy in the DOS era, when screen output typically was limited to 80 characters wide by 25 rows deep. For some types of programs, spreadsheets being the obvious example, it's still handy now.

      In layman's terms [...], "You can make a multitasking program manager monitor a specific location in your computer's hardware so it can do something cool, such as letting the user switch tasks, when the SysReq key is pressed." As it turned out, the developers of Windows didn't use SysReq when implementing task switching. Some new keyboards no longer feature this key, and its days seem numbered.

      The Pause/Break key was used in the DOS command line environment to pause scrolling of text on the screen, which could, depending on the program and its method of text output to the screen, have the effect of pausing program execution.
    • by rsilvergun (571051) on Thursday January 29, 2004 @04:46AM (#8121763)
      to pause a booting system so I can read/write down useful info like bios versions. Just hit enter when your done and away you go.
    • Re:Three keys (Score:4, Informative)

      by zhenlin (722930) on Thursday January 29, 2004 @05:31AM (#8121919)
      The Magic SysRq key makes a Request to the Linux System -- Alt + SysRq + (on x86)

      For more details, study /usr/src/linux/Documentation/sysrq.txt

      Very useful. Far more convenient than pressing some chord that brings up a GUI screen with buttons to press. The framebuffer may be corrupted, for instance, or the mouse non-responsive, or the GUI server frozen, etc.

  • by Tokerat (150341) on Thursday January 29, 2004 @03:03AM (#8121401) Journal

    "I may have invented it, but Bill made it famous," Bradley said. Gates didn't laugh.
    Wow, my hero!
  • Back when I used Windos 95 and 98, I used "Ctrl" "Alt" and "Del" so often that my fingers rubbed them off.

    Thanks, Bradley, for your contribution to ruining my keyboard!

    Using a different OS nowadays, strangely enough the affected keys are now "W", "S", "L", "A", "H", "D", "O", "T", "R" and "G". The "." is already gone!!

    Thanks, UPTSO, McBride, RFID tags, Eugenia, Mars, Goatse and RIAA!

    • Using a different OS nowadays, strangely enough the affected keys are now "W", "S", "L", "A", "H", "D", "O", "T", "R" and "G". The "." is already gone!!

      Most browsers have this cool feature called bookmarks that allows you to get to slashdot using a single mouseclick rather than typing all that out!

  • The Origin (Score:2, Funny)

    by aynrandfan (687181)
    I suppose "control-alt-delete" was chosen as "work-you-fucking-program!" took to long to type in.
  • by mark-t (151149) <markt.lynx@bc@ca> on Thursday January 29, 2004 @03:12AM (#8121444) Journal
    The OS where you press Ctrl-Alt-Del to log in, and use the "Start Menu" to shut down.
  • by djupedal (584558) on Thursday January 29, 2004 @03:22AM (#8121481)
    but Bill made it famous
    • blue screen
    • DLL hell
    • Outlook mail virus
    • and then it crashed, and I wasn't doing anything!
    • guess I have to reinstall the system
    • do you really, really, really want to quit?
    • where do you want to go today?
    • and then Windows just quit!
    • I only use Windows at work
    • I hate Windows
    • microsoft sucks
  • Lisp machines (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 29, 2004 @03:23AM (#8121484)
    Lisp machines were using a 5-key chord for reboot way before IBM PC. The chord LCtrl-LMeta-RCtrl-RMeta-Del was used on TI-Explorer. The meta key is the alt equivalence in lisp machines.
  • by K-Man (4117) on Thursday January 29, 2004 @03:24AM (#8121489)

    He's just rebooting.
  • by Onikuma (699576) on Thursday January 29, 2004 @03:36AM (#8121533)
    If he hadn't come up with this, just maybe, Bill Gates would have had to write software that was somewhat reliable.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 29, 2004 @03:50AM (#8121583)
    How can we convince the old men of IT history to commit themselves to Open Source projects? We should assume that they do not need to work any more and that they have all the time they want to spend on Free projects.

    How would the world benefit from their insights and contacts?

    What would motivate them?

    Would a "mentor" scheme help to organise OS projects? Would it work?
  • by Spoing (152917) on Thursday January 29, 2004 @07:49AM (#8122401) Homepage
    The first x86 computer I owned -- an 8086 lugable -- had a keyboard that linked directly to the CPU and no virtualization hardware. Pressing CTRL-ALT-DEL was handy on that system, and over time moving on to 286s, and 386s it still had a function till both the hardware and the operating systems started to trap it. At that point, CTRL-ALT-DEL stopped being a reliable override and started to become a function of software.

    When Windows NT came out, touting that it supported MIPS and Alpha processors, the system boards for those chips did not have even a hint of this original hardware design. I thought that it was reasonable to drop support for that keyboard combination entirely on the software side, and special case trap it for any of the remaining hardware under x86. Drop it as a historic oddity and move on.

    Instead, it was retained as a "security" feature in the NT line for logging in to a machine and locking the machine as if there were something special about pressing CTRL-ALT-DEL on all hardware -- if the keyboard even had those keys or they mapped to anything resembling the hardware on Windows NT came out, touting that it supported MIPS and Alpha processors, the system boards for those chips did not have even a hint of this original hardware design. I thought that it was reasonable to drop support for that entirely on the software side, and special case trap it for any of the remaining hardware under x86.an x86!

    This alone was a big red flag to me that Microsoft didn't get it. Add to it the heavy x86 virtualization used on the other hardware and it was clear MS wasn't entirely serious about portability let alone real security.

    With that, can anyone give a good reason to keep CTRL-ALT-DEL around for any function except as an old-time legacy habit for DOS/Windows users? Is there a technical reason why that combo is more valuable? I can't think of one...

  • Retired (Score:3, Funny)

    by ch-chuck (9622) on Thursday January 29, 2004 @08:41AM (#8122594) Homepage
    So what is he going to do now? Travel the college lecture circuit? "Tonight at 8PM in Simpsons Hall: The Man Who Invented CTRL-ALT-DEL"

    Or his last performance review at IBM: "I know you invented CTRL-ALT-DEL, but what have you done for us lately?"

    At least now he has time to spend in the garage on his latest invention, SHIFT-ESC-HOME.

  • HP Calculators (Score:3, Informative)

    by Detritus (11846) on Thursday January 29, 2004 @09:16AM (#8122778) Homepage
    Many HP calculators have their own version of ctrl-alt-del, which can be used to reset the calculator to a known state, as it was when shipped from the factory. Try pressing and holding the key in the lower-left corner, and then simultaneously press the key in the top-left corner and the key in the top-right corner.
  • by The Fun Guy (21791) on Thursday January 29, 2004 @09:45AM (#8122934) Homepage Journal
    Down at the bottom of TFA is a quote from Bradley about what exactly led to the PC hardware revolution, i.e. cheap, interoperable, expandable hardware. First was IBM's decision to outsource development of the OS (Microsoft) and CPU (Intel) [giving them expertise which they later used to markey directly to clone vendors].
    Bradley: "Second, we made it an open system. We published a user manual that made it easy for other people to develop software."

    The parallels with the prospects for a PC software revolution are obvious.

    Another quote (by Grove): "It's hard 20 years later to realize how drastic a departure this was from the computer industry's standard practices. Computer companies at that time tended to base everything on differentiation. My software will run only on my platform. The thinking was, 'If I don't differentiate, I'm just in a commodity business.' ... if IBM senior management had fully understood what it was unleashing in 1981, I don't think it would have done this.""

    I think Microsoft realizes exactly what happened with IBM... they lost control of the PC hardware business, but the open platform they originated blossomed in a hundred creative directions. MS has no intention of losing control of the PC OS business.
  • by gregarican (694358) on Thursday January 29, 2004 @02:31PM (#8125752) Homepage
    Bill getting cream pied while in Europe. [xohost.com]

    Bill getting slammed about the three-fingered salute [xohost.com]

    Bill at the Windows 98 premiere watching the demo blue screen [xohost.com]

    I'd almost feel sorry for the guy, but he's worth more than most countries and can do whatever the hell he wants.

System checkpoint complete.

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