Vulcan Nerve Pinch

What Does Vulcan Nerve Pinch Mean?

The Vulcan Nerve Pinch is a keyboard combination that hinders a user’s ability to complete complicated command functions with a single-hand or accidental keypress.


The Vulcan Nerve Pinch is also known as Control-Alt-Delete (Ctrl-Alt-Del) or a three-finger salute, which refers to the original "Star Trek" series and Bill Gates’ famed hand expression, respectively.

Techopedia Explains Vulcan Nerve Pinch

David Bradley, an IBM engineer, developed the Vulcan Nerve Pinch concept in the early 1980s as a means of allowing a reboot from the keyboard without the risk of accidentally causing a system restart.

The Vulcan Nerve Pinch enables user termination of hanging applications or operating systems. Accidental system reboots are rare because of specified actions, speed and key combinations.

In Windows, a Vulcan Nerve Pinch occurs when a user holds the Ctrl-Alt-Del keys at the same time to terminate a program or restart an OS. In Windows 95, Ctrl-Alt-Delete opens a window allowing program users to view running program status, manually delete tasks/programs and shut down, standby or restart the computer. If Ctrl-Alt-Del is pressed twice quickly in Windows 95 or 98, all running programs close and the system restarts.

The advent of Window NT based systems has meant that there is better process management so program threads are not lost when CTRL-ALT-DEL is pressed as there is no automatic reboot process initiated. NT-based systems suspend all applications and invoke the task manager instead, allowing individual processes to be managed without having to reboot. When a program crashes in NT, the system wraps the threads and can recover the memory and continue without a forced reboot.


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Margaret Rouse

Margaret Rouse is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical, business audience. Over the past twenty years her explanations have appeared on TechTarget websites and she's been cited as an authority in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine and Discovery Magazine.Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages. If you have a suggestion for a new definition or how to improve a technical explanation, please email Margaret or contact her…