David Bradley '71

You can thank a Flyer when you're able to unlock your computer. Best known for inventing the three-key sequence "Control-Alt-Delete," David Bradley holds 10 patents related to computer design and was one of the original 12 engineers who began work on the IBM personal computer in 1980.

Distinguished Alumnus Award 2013

For National or International Achievements

The Distinguished Alumnus Award is the highest honor accorded by the Alumni Association and recognizes a graduate of the University of Dayton who has earned special distinction, thereby reflecting great honor on the University of Dayton and its alumni.  

The award is given to a person who has sustained a record of accomplishment and whose reputation is widespread.  

In selecting the distinguished alumnus, special attention shall be given to the accomplishments that embody the University’s goal to participate effectively in the quest for a more perfect human society. To be eligible, a person must be a graduate of the University of Dayton with an associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s or doctoral degree, and must have received the degree at least 25 years prior to being nominated for the award.  Unless there is a compelling reason to merit an exception, only one award will be given each year.

David Bradley '71
Bachelor of Science, Electrical Engineering

The next time your computer freezes, you can thank a Flyer when you’re quickly able to unlock it. Best known for inventing the three-key sequence known as “Control-Alt-Delete,” David Bradley holds 10 patents related to computer design and was one of the original 12 engineers who began work on the IBM personal computer in 1980.

He was responsible for the Basic Input/Output System, known as “BIOS,” writing the code that controlled the display, keyboard, diskette drive, printer and other system hardware devices. Because two of his patents were critical to IBM’s success, he was honored with IBM’s Corporate Patent Portfolio Award. He also wrote a technical manual for the PC and founded a PC architecture group to assist in establishing consistency across IBM products.

After earning a bachelor’s in electrical engineering from UD, Bradley earned a doctorate in electrical engineering from Purdue University. With a busy schedule, keyboard shortcuts are still his favorite time-saver.

“I started using PCs when everything was entered on the command line; no drag/drop/click. So, the shortcuts I’ve learned through the years, like Control-C to copy, or Control-V to paste, make a difference. I hate moving my hand to the mouse to do those things,” he said, noting that he’s not immune to a computer’s time vacuum, either.

“My favorite time wasters are probably just like everybody else. Reading blogs by people I don't know about things I really don't care about, just because they are interesting, reading things discovered while looking something else up,” he said. “One not like everybody else — I love taking a PC apart to make it run faster or better.”

On top of a 30-year career at IBM, Bradley has been an adjunct professor at Florida Atlantic University and North Carolina State University.