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VIDEO: Bill Gates admits ‘Control-Alt-Delete’ on Windows PCs was a mistake

Andrew Sadauskas /

Tech tycoon and philanthropist Bill Gates has admitted the infamous ‘Control-Alt-Delete’ shortcut was a design mistake by IBM, during an interview at Harvard University.

At the 16-minute mark of the interview about his career and philanthropic efforts, Gates says that IBM had turned down a Microsoft request to put a single button on its keyboards that handles the functionality of the ‘Control-Alt-Delete’ key combination.

The combination, originally used to restart a computer running MS-DOS, is now used to log users in and out of Windows.

“You want to have something you do with the keyboard that is signalling 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,” Gates says.

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Andrew Sadauskas

Andrew Sadauskas is a former journalist at SmartCompany and a former editor of TechCompany.

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