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Steve Ballmer wrote the Blue Screen of Death message

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Former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer wrote the text for the original Blue Screen of Death (BSOD). Microsoft developer Raymond Chen revealed the surprising fact in a blog post earlier this week, detailing Ballmer’s dissatisfaction with the original text that flashed up when a program wasn’t responding in Windows 3.1. Ballmer was head of the systems division at the time, Chen recalls, and when he visited the Windows team he thought the wording didn’t "sound right" for the ctrl+alt+del dialogue. The Windows team challenged Ballmer to do a better job, and he did.

A few days after the initial interaction, Ballmer emailed his own take on what the ctrl+alt+del should say and the Blue Screen of Death was born. 22 years ago, when Windows 3.1 was on desktop computers, it was a fairly basic BSOD, but today Windows 8 flashes up an frowning face if something goes wrong. While Ballmer might have been responsible for the ctrl+alt+del text, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates admitted last year that forcing Windows users to use ctrl+alt+del was a mistake. Gates blamed IBM for refusing to add a single button to its keyboard for the command, and millions of people still use the ctrl+alt+del combination to log into Windows computers around the world.