Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) - Get Microsoft Corporation (MSFT) Report founder Bill Gates has made immeasurable positive contributions to the computing world, but the one thing he would change if given the chance is the control-alt-delete reboot function.
Gates said the Windows reboot function should have been assigned to a single button during an appearance at Bloomberg's Global Business Forum this week, adding that he would go back in time to make the change if he could guarantee it wouldn't "put other things at risk."
The decision to make the function a three-button process came from International Business Machines Corp. (IBM) - Get International Business Machines (IBM) Report engineers who created the first IBM PCs around 1980. The engineers only had one way to guarantee an interruption, and that was the infamous three-button, two-hand control-alt-delete command.
Gates said the engineers should have just added another key to the fledgling keyboard to make the reboot simpler. "A lot of machines these days do have that as a more obvious function," Gates added.
Gates hasn't ever been one to look backward on yesteryear's mistakes. Instead of dwelling on the laborious control-alt-delete, here are three of Gates' biggest contributions.
Establishing the Norm of the Home Computer
Gates and friend Paul Allen founded Microsoft in 1976, but before that, the two learned entry-level programming called BASIC at school in Seattle. Using the BASIC programming language, Gates and Allen created code that could work on the Altair 8800 microcomputer and sold it to Altair manufacturer MITS for $3,000. That very code sparked a revolution and became standard in IBM personal computers, Commodore VIC-20 home computers, the BBC Micro system and Apple Inc.'s (AAPL) - Get Apple Inc. (AAPL) Report Apple II models.
Launching Windows 95
This was the operating system that launched 1,000 others. Windows was Microsoft's biggest product and even today operates on around 90% of the world's computers, according to TechRadar. It powers personal computers, business servers, cellphones, retail displays and cable boxes.
Donating His Time and Money
For all Gates' incredible work in computing, his most shining achievement is his dedication to philanthropic causes. Through his Gates Foundation with his wife, Melinda, Gates has worked to eradicate poverty, increase access to healthcare, expand education opportunities and grow access to technology throughout the world. The Gates Foundation has a $44.3 billion endowment and employs over 1,300 people. Gates, who signed the Giving Pledge to donate the majority of his wealth before his death, has given over $28 billion to the Foundation.
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Editors' pick: Originally published Sept. 22.