This week in Mash History: Ada Lovelace invents Ctrl-Alt-Delete in 1848

TODAY alone, tens of thousands of PC users around the world will press three keys simultaneously, effortlessly forcing Windows to cease its frozen bullshit. 

But did you know that without Ada Lovelace they would be unable to, leaving them no option but to stare at frozen Excel spreadsheets until it was time to go home? Here’s how a plucky Victorian woman created the ultimate shortcut to turn it off and on again.

Lovelace, fascinated by mathematics from an early age, wrote notes on Charles Babbage’s Analytical Engine in 1842. And even then she had the vision to recognise the contraptions would, at times, require a kick up the arse.

Lovelace wrote in her journal: ‘Great progress has been made. I foresee a future where the engine’s use is not solely mathematical but across disciplines. Yet it can be efficacious to none if it cannot be stopped from ceasing all operation at seeming random.

“Why, just this morning, as I attempted to calculate a sequence of Bernoulli numbers, the engine froze in place and my ire was aroused to the point I swore at it and physically chastised it with the reckless passion of my father Lord Byron. Indeed, I did call it a twat.

“A more technical solution is needed. I hypothesise a sequence of three keys turned simultaneously to suspend functions and allow cessation of those are impeding progress. I have named them Contrarotulus, Alter and Deletus.

“A brotherhood could be trained in their usage, and sent across the world to help all those suffering jammed and groaning engines in their usage. But they must be tasked to do so ethically, charging no extortionate fee for an action so simple.”

And so Ctrl-Alt-Delete was created, saving many millions of hours frustration for all of us who use the shortcut every single day, all thanks to the Countess of Lovelace.

Next week: to 1972, when the Ronco Buttoneer ensured no shirt would ever be thrown away ever again.

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Your astrological week ahead, with Psychic Bob

Aries, March 21st–April 19th

The Atlantic says you’re fat, and even if you lost two stone that jacket would look shit on you. Well, you wanted to hear the latest from frank ocean.

Taurus, April 20th–May 20th

Your favourite tube line? Fallopian.

Gemini, May 21st–June 21st

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Cancer, June 22nd–July 22nd

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Leo, July 23rd–August 22nd

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Virgo, August 23rd–September 22nd

They need to develop a line of greetings cards for people who neither want to come across as cloying sincere nor call the recipient a fat, old twat. They’d make millions.

Libra, September 23rd–October 22nd

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Scorpio, October 23rd–November 22nd

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Sagittarius, November 22nd–December 21st

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Capricorn, December 22nd–January 19th

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Aquarius, January 20th–February 18th

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Pisces, February 19th–March 20th

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