Bootstrapping is an English term that originated in the 1880s as an accessory to help put on boots , and gradually acquired a collection of additional metaphorical meanings. The theme common to all these meanings is the realization of a process without external help, but with internal facilitation steps.
Some boots are made with leather straps protruding from the back of the barrel, making the process of putting them on easier.
Nowadays, the most common uses of the term are in the field of computer science, where it has become a widespread metaphor for systems initialization. There are other uses, at least in English-speaking countries, in areas as diverse as biology and business administration.
Straps on leather boots
Boots that can be worn
High boots can have a flap, loop or strap at the top known as a bootstrap, allowing the person to use their fingers or a tool to provide a better lift when pulling on the boots when trying to put them on. The English saying “pull your bootstraps” [ 1 ] was already in use during the 1800s as an example of an impossible task. Bootstrap as a metaphor, meaning to improve yourself by your own effort and without help, was used in 1922. [ 2 ] This metaphor generated other metaphors for a series of self-sustaining processes that occur without outside help. [ 3 ]
Main article: Boot
The term computer bootstrap started as a metaphor in the 1950s. Pressing a bootstrap button would cause an embedded program to read a bootstrap program from an input drive and then run the bootstrap program that reads more program instructions and becomes if a self-sustaining process that proceeds without outside help from manually entered instructions. As a computing term, bootstrap has been used at least since 1958.
The bootstrap concept was used on the IBM 701 (1952-1956) computer that had a “load button” that started reading the first 36-bit word from a card punched in a card reader, or from a magnetic tape drive, or drum memory unit (predecessor to the hard disk drive ). The last 18-bit semi-word was then executed as an instruction that read additional words in memory.
Main article: Bootstrap
In Administration, the concept is used in the field of Entrepreneurship, to designate the beginning of new businesses without large volumes of financial investments. The bootstrap entrepreneur uses his own resources, usually scarce and limited, to start his business. The figure of the entrepreneur who starts his business in the garage of his house or in his own room characterizes the concept of bootstrap.
In this sense, bootstrapping is a path chosen by entrepreneurs who do not want to be subject to the limitations imposed by an investor, who can give an opinion on their business. Bootstrapping is the path expected for the entrepreneur who does not want to lose autonomy over his business and prefers to start small and grow slowly than to have rapid growth, but without control over his business.