In October 1982, the U.S. printed computer magazine “Softalk” ads, which showed little sense. Southwestern Data Systems, and has been since 1978, and became a prolific Apple-Software-suppliers, campaigned for “the first game was programmed by Aliens.” To be purchased for 34,95$, by direct order or in the trade. There, the display, you should just ask after the game.

The Problem: You might not know what you should ask.

the Name of The game was shown, as are the instructions in the game itself, in a font, to dance looked to have put the foot “of a dreizehigen denebischen mucus-Greeb in a pot of ink, and taught him on paper”. The David Durkee, described in the first Review of the game. In clear text: You had to find out by deciphering how and what you should play, actually. The early Digital Community was thrilled by this highly intellectual imposition.

Who made it, the Alien Code in “Bezare” or “Brought to Earth” or “Alien Game”, as it soon was called, to crack, was a game that introduced the popular “Space Invaders”-variants on the head: You controlled a peaceful alien ship that was attacked by aggressive people with Space Shuttles, rockets, and tanks. To defend themselves because adequately, found Durkee, requires a “schizophrenic attitude” of a people.

Powerful, cool, not only that, but also a highly innovative Feature that was first experience in “Bezare”, however, was: The Boss button, which replaced the game screen by a supposed Business application.What an obvious idea!

Gaming as the main purpose

What had the early home PCs to commercial Software, it was almost cosmetically: elementary text processing and the first spreadsheet programs, provided the factual justification for the purchase of the exorbitantly expensive machines. But used, in practice, often enough only for one thing – to Gamble. Basically, the first Apple, Altair, Commodore were demanding toys.


It is also the “Softalk”, one of the first successful public-PC magazine made no secret of the fact. Here are the global Elite, the programmer is debated, here are Business applications were discussed, but mainly just games. They tested finally, the limits of the feasible. No wonder that in “Softalk” in addition to games Charts also lists the achieved scores of the play the audience found their permanent place.

And the number of computer fans grew up at that time especially powerful, as PCs began to take over the world of the offices. There, more and more people have learned now, with computers deal with it – and many discovered that you could have which also fun. Thus, a Problem arose: How could prevent to be not approved to Gamble?

A spontaneous idea in beer

The solution to Roger Wagner, chief of Southwestern Data Systems found that in the case of a hang-glider-course in Cantamar, Baja California, in March 1981. He suggested in fun-illustrious round that included the Tech-Cracks such as Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, a Keyboard shortcut that should make the games screen under a businesslike-looking graph or table to disappear.

Actually, told Wagner in an Interview with Chris Torrence in the year 2015, have you sat in beer and joking. Because at the table, game developers were sitting and he himself had been as a Publisher, his first game in order, he came spontaneously to the idea with the Boss-Key.

He earned warm laughter and decided to take the idea as soon as possible. Wagner persuaded the developer John Besnard, the “Boss button” in his Alien game.

The first Boss of the screen, called up using the keyboard command Ctrl+W, recalled a VisiCalc chart and looked for work. Apparently, employees of the computer user with a Budget (the”income, mortgage, telephone, food…”). In the first moment of credible Illusion – that is, if you ignored that on the table, “Outer Space Calculations” written on it.

Sober thing: the first Boss-Screen of the computer history

The sly-an ironic Simulation of work should be the style of the Boss-Key shape. Objectively looking bar graphs visualized bullshit statistics. This detracted from their success, not The idea spread rapidly and was recorded from a large number of programmers.

Already in 1983, soon held “panic button” is called the Boss Key in the IBM PC world (“friendly goods, PC Arcade”). In the same year, was disappointed in the Atari, the first great Publisher of a mainstream title is a Boss-key (“Star Wars”).

The PC-Boom: The office-playing games as a “gateway drug”

For PC manufacturers and game publishers the panic button idea was a blessing. You made it possible that people who had not yet home PC, not began to as to play, where you should: in offices. There, more and more employees wanted to afford, until then, no Computer or could zockten now.

But that changed rapidly. Commodore C64 (1982) and, even more, models such as the Amiga 500 or Atari’s PC-1 (both in 1987) under the price level of Apple computers, and IBM offered PC solid, even though they offered similar opportunities. “Today,” he said Atari boss Sam Tramiel, son of Commodore’s founder Jack Tramiel, the gathered press at the launch of his first IBM-compatible PC, “we explain to the computer industry the war!”

That was no Exaggeration. First, the former game machine manufacturers, made home PCs, to the true mass-produced goods. Not by the well-established manufacturer of extruded, but because you attack the prices for PCs could crash – Commodore like Atari failed, ultimately, themselves.

In the Wake of the resulting mass distribution was booming and the market for games, which could be via floppy disk, “in-between” times in the shop. Without a Boss-Key for a game came as hardly and at the end there is hardly a player without a Computer.

“Leisure Suit Larry”: you played in 1987

Not only popular dirty games like “Leather Goddesses of Phobos” (1986) or “Leisure Suit Larry in the Land of the Lounge Lizzards” (1987), the messengers rose to their players of the emergency. The classic game “Tetris” (1984) had an emergency exit and for the next 25 years, the epitome of the “to be inconspicuous in-between” game Casual Games.

Only in 2000 was overtaken by the popularity of “Tetris” in the German offices of the “Moorhuhn” – also, this game had a Boss from “Moorhuhn 2” button.

But soon, the Boss of the shortcuts disappeared. In the shipping trade physical “panic were still get buttons” or “chief Fußtasten”, with which screen content could overlap. Long but they were to become nostalgic-ironic joke articles.

Since 1990, Microsoft introduced Windows 3.0, the principle of Multitasking in the world of the IBM PC (Commodore Amiga: 1985; Apple 1987). Until the mid-nineties but have not been sold systems that were able to; many of them were used until the end of the Millennium. At the latest from there, but you could change it by shortcut (Alt+Tab) between the different “Windows” – the Boss-Key was superfluous.

However, if you will, lives on in the commands of the operating systems. If you just sit in front of a Windows machine that also has a panic Button, boss key, exit. You can be the Desktop appear but don’t panic, your open programs are still there: you need to open the window again (same command again or Alt+Tab).

Try it: Press the Windows key and “D”.

Sam Yoon has many years of experiences in journalism. He has covered such areas as information technology, science, sports and politics. Yoon can be reached at 82-2-6956-6698.