bootstrap loadertoggle in via the front panel switches. It was just clever enough to read in a slightly more complex program (usually from punched cards or paper tape), to which it handed control. This program in turn read the application or operating system from a magnetic tape drive or disk drive. Thus, in successive steps, the computer "pulled itself up by its bootstraps" to a useful operating state. Nowadays the bootstrap loader is usually found in ROM or EPROM, and reads the first stage in from a fixed location on the disk, called the "boot block". When this program gains control, it is powerful enough to load the actual OS and hand control over to it. A diskless workstation can use bootp to load its OS from the network.
Last updated: 2005-04-12