Three-finger salute

The Indianapolis Star caught up with David Bradley, Ph.D the other week. Who’s he, you ask? Apparently, he’s the IBM engineer that gave the world “Ctrl-Alt-Del”, the three-key sequence that allowed users to reboot their crashed IBM PCs (and now, used for logging into Windows and opening Taskman).

Seems Bradley is on a crusade to promote careers in science and technology to the young ‘uns. A noble mission, alas I think he has his work cut out for him. We are a society that worships the hockey player, the singer, the artist. When you think “scientist”, you think of a balding white-haired man with a smoking purple potion in his lab coat and a DeLorean in his garage. An engineer is a problem solver, and a problem solved is out of sight, and out of sight means out of mind. Even though science can make you happy, apparently.

I remember having a homework assignment in Gr. 2 where I had to write down what I wanted to do when I grew up. I felt scared, because I had no idea. All the books I read depicted policemen, firefighters, pilots, artists, and writers. The closest approximations to sci-tech jobs were doctors and dentists.

I was in a fugue about this. Those vocations didn’t interest me in the slightest. Was that all there was in life? Chasing crooks or painting? I had to write “I don’t know”, while my classmates beamed that they wanted to be firefighters or nurses.

And then one day, my father brought home an Intel 286 PC, and my world was turned on its ear.