Everybody knows that IBM engineer David Bradley invented the Ctrl-Atl-Delete key combination used to reboot the IBM PC. But who first described this key combination as the "three-finger salute"?
I think I was. In the February 25, 1986 issue of PC Magazine (Volume 5, Number 4) is a cover story I wrote entitled "Operating in a New Environment," which introduced readers to the new world of Windows, TopView, et. al.. On page 114 is the following paragraph:
THE THREE-FINGER SALUTE Some people stick with a few standard applications. They don't bother with resident programs, and they never play around with DEBUG and POKE. If the above description fits you, you may not be accustomed to having your computer crash — to suddenly find that your keyboard is frozen or to watching the screen fill up with garbage. You may not even be aware of the two different types of crashes, the soft crash (recoverable by the three-finger salute, Ctrl-Alt-Del) or the hard crash (big red switch and count to 5 slowly).
I'm pretty sure that when I wrote that paragraph over 24 years ago, I had never heard or read anyone else referring to Ctrl-Alt-Delete as the "three-finger salute." I know it's a miniscule contribution to our culture — and I'm not even that proud of it because "salute" suggests honoring someone or something while rebooting seems like a more hostile act — but I'm holding on to it.
Of course, I will graciously cede neologistic priority if anyone can find a previous printed use of the term "three-finger salute" in this sense.