THE BLOG
09/27/2013 04:16 pm ET Updated Nov 27, 2013

Bolt From the Blue (Screen); Does it Matter Now?

Let's admit it. After decades of computing, today, we get to hear the truth. And, knowing it isn't going to help anyone. Neither the man in question, who is also the man who's answerable. Nor the person who is deemed responsible for it. Number of losers runs into millions, who have already paid a price for something that didn't help them much, all along. All it seems, is like a bolt from the blue. Exactly the color of the screen that one's computer would turn into, in case you pressed this combination on the live keyboard.

Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates' recent confession at a Harvard Fundraising campaign that 'Ctrl-Alt-Del' was a mistake, which was made by David Bradley of IBM left a lot of computer users wondering about the timing of the confession. The only company that leveraged on better computing while MicroSoft (MS) went feverishly about 'a PC in every household' drive, Apple perhaps looked away and looked into creating better computing experience in the eye.

Say, why are we hearing this now? As per Gates' confession (if it is one) MS wanted a single key to perform this operation of locking the login, or access task manager. "But, the guy who did IBM keyboard didn't want to give it to us" said Gates at the event, amidst chuckling by the audience. The combination was originally deployed to avoid other apps from faking the login prompt, and accessing the password. There's a lot of explaining to do, when one gets to know that David Bradley originally designed this combination to reboot a PC.

But, what happened eventually was a different story altogether. The rather odd combination lived on, and was morphed to perform other tasks too, leaving the users all confused and red-faced. While Gates has a lot to explain, Bradley has already used the first-strike advantage. "I may have invented it, but Bill (Gates) made it famous," he reportedly said.

Notwithstanding this retrospection, MS Windows still deploy this combination on millions of PCs. It allows users to lock a machine, or access task manager; not to restart the computer. As a result, this rather clunky combination, which is embedded in the minds of PC users since decades, turned into a challenge of 'decision' rather than a reflex action, which it should have been. As a result, this infamous combination lives on, whether or not for Gates' confession.