Before the CD-ROM was available to the general populace (around 1984), the industry realized that there had to be a standardized method of reading a CD's VTOC, or Volume Table of Contents. Without this standard, the marketplace would be flooded with CDs that had incompatible standards, which would continue until a generally accepted standard rose above the rest.

Manufacturers of PCs, CDs and software publishers came together in Lake Tahoe at the High Sierra Hotel to thrash out a common uniform standard. In 1986, the CD-ROM standard file format, dubbed High Sierra, was accepted by the hardware and software industries.

High Sierra was eventually replaced by the ISO-9660 standard, which was actually the High Sierra standard with minor differences. The ISO certification made the format compatible with systems worldwide, where the High Sierra format was mainly used in the United States.

Note that the High Sierra and ISO-9660 formats allow any system to read the VTOC. As an example, a PC can read a Mac CD-ROM, but it can't normally use any of the programs. This also explains why CD-ROMs can have Mac and PC information on them, such as discs that come with magazines.

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