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Bill Gates says he'd do CTRL-ALT-DEL with one key if given the chance to go back through time

Gives two-fingered salute to IBM designers for forcing us to use three-fingered salute

Bill Gates has said that if he could decide again, he would not have chosen CTRL-ALT-DEL as the keypress to interrupt a PC's operations.

Speaking at the Bloomberg Global Business Forum, as recorded from about the 8:30 mark in this video, Gates looked a bit amused when Carlyle Group co-founder and CEO David Rubenstein asked about the infamous three-finger salute.

He nonetheless answered the question directly, and in a very Bill Gates way, saying: "The IBM hardware PC keyboard only had one way it could get a guaranteed interrupt generated. So clearly the people involved, they should have put another key on in order to make that work."

Gates also observed that "a lot of machines nowadays do have that as a more obvious function." Rubenstein pressed, asking whether Gates regrets having chosen CTRL-ALT-DEL.

"I am not sure you can go back and change the small things in your life without putting the other things at risk," Gates responded, before adding: "Sure, if I could make one small edit I would make that a single key operation."

Gates also used his time on the panel discussion to take a small swipe at "Silicon Valley billionaires who want to live forever", saying that his current focus is on problems such as the fact an African child is 100 times more likely to die of a preventable disease than an American child. He also opined that the "digital revolution" has many years to run, with effects aplenty to be felt across all industries. ®


The three-finger-salute was the work of IBM engineer David Bradley, who programmed the original IBM PC BIOS to forcibly trigger a system reboot when the keys were pressed – and there wasn't much Microsoft could do about it.

In 2001, at a party marking the 20th birthday of the IBM PC, Bradley, while sitting next to Gates, quipped to his audience: "I have to share the credit [for ctrl-alt-del]. I may have invented it, but I think Bill made it famous.”

The Redmond billionaire was not amused.

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