On that morning, 23 year old John C. Beck, while working in the US Embassy in Tokyo, inadvertedly hit the wrong key and caused the loss of all ongoing work on a report on the incident being prepared by diplomats and translators for President Reagan, a fact which delayed the official statement from the US administration and caused several unfortunate side effects.
[...] I highlighted her workstation and hit the F6 key to reset. But my screen went temporarily black and then seemed to be starting again. I realized that I had mistakenly hit F7 and reset all the workstations in the embassy.
[...] I, naturally, felt terrible and was, appropriately, fired.
It was only weeks later that I began to comprehend the effects of this single keystroke mistake.
He seems to have taken this incident in stride and accepted the consequences. But it doesn't change the fact that the user interface design seems horrid: it made it possible to destroy the work in progress on the entire network with a single keystroke, without even a confirmation, and furthermore placed that key right next to one used much more often and with less severe effects.
It would be very interesting to see if this design was simply bad or if it was intentional – if for instance they wanted to be able to destroy everything at the touch of a button in case of a security emergency.
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