Prior to 1995, CD-ROMs could not be used for booting a computer. The CD drives required software drivers to be loaded first from a floppy or hard drive with an operating system. In early 1995, the manufacturers of PCs, CD-ROM drives and discs, and the software industry finalized the El Torito standard.

The El Torito standard required three parts to function.

  • A CD-ROM drive with a boot mechanism, normally using IDE or EIDE type interfaces.
  • A motherboard that had a new BIOS that supported the CD-ROM directly.
  • A CD-ROM disc with boot code and an operating system.

    The El Torito standard is commonly used to install an operating system onto a new computer or one with a reformatted hard drive. Customized install discs can also be made, where corporations can set up a standard PC for their employees just by popping in a bootable CD disc.

    Update: As Gorgonzola noted, there was/is an americanized Mexican restaurant called El Toritos. Unfortunately, the history of the name of the standard is not as well documented as the High Sierra one is, but it is generally suspected and assumed that the original group of the standards development folks met at the mutually equidistant and easy to find restaurant.