BootIt®: Quick History

BootIt 1.00 was released at the beginning of 1995 and contained several new innovative technologies such as the ability to:

  • Have more than 4 primary partitions
  • Position partitions on the fly
  • Swap diskette drive A: and B: a feature that makes it possible to boot either diskette drive.
  • Swap hard drives, a feature that makes it possible to boot DOS or NT from a second physical hard drive.

BootIt 2.00 was released towards the end of 1996 and contained even more innovative technologies such as:

  • The Extended Master Boot Record (EMBR): a standard for having more than 4 primary partitions on a hard drive as well as an extensible firmware interface for the Intel platform.
  • A complete partitioning and multi-boot product in one.

As time went on, new innovations were introduced such as:

  • Booting from the next BIOS device
  • Booting NT above 2GB

In May 1998 BootIt Direct and BootIt Lite were released to fill an existing gap between available features and those requested by users.

BootIt Next Generation was released in 2000 as the first ever all-in-one partition, multi-boot, and imaging utility. It included:

  • An attractive graphical user interface
  • Drive imaging for backup and restore
  • More features than all of the prior BootIt products combined

BootIt Bare Metal, released in 2011, was built upon the same reliable core TeraByte technologies as BootIt Next Generation. Including new features and a modern look, BootIt Bare Metal once again set the standard in advanced multi-boot software.

Today there is BootIt UEFI.
Built upon the same concepts and core TeraByte technologies in BootIt Bare Metal, BootIt UEFI broadens the BootIt product line to support modern UEFI systems.

The History of BootIt®

The original release of BootIt (version 1) in 1994 was created as a proof-of-concept solution to enable installation of more than four operating systems, each needing a primary partition, on the same computer. Since a standard IBM PC compatible hard drive only uses the first sector of the first track for the MBR and leaves the subsequent sectors in the first track undefined, the second sector was chosen as the location of the alternate partition table and could hold up to 10 entries. On each boot, BootIt would list the partitions A through J with a text entry field that allowed grouping of other partitions to add to the MBR when the selection was chosen. For example, afcj would group partitions listed as A, F, C, and J.

This proof-of-concept proved successful, but it was clear that the undefined and unused area within the first track needed to be standardized. This led to the creation of the EMBR (Extended Master Boot Record) specification that standardized the usage of the first track. It defines an EMBRI (Extended Master Boot Record Initiator), EMBRL (Extended Master Boot Record Loader), and EMBRM (Extended Master Boot Record Manager). It also includes a MPT (Master Partition Table) that can hold 255 partitions, a MBFT (Master Boot File Table) for OS specific kernel loaders that could be used to load different operating systems from a single partition using a boot record that was EMBR compatible, as well as a MDT (Master Driver Table) which defined the concept of having system level drivers to extended the capability of the system BIOS.

Side Note: In the 1998-1999 timeframe an anonymous tipster called and reported that Intel and Microsoft were reviewing and studying our EMBR specification and concepts;  this appears to have lead to the creation of the Extensible Firmware Interface (EFI) and GUID Partition Table (GPT).

BootIt Version 2 became the EMBRM for the new EMBR specification. BootIt 2 was designed with a common API (which morphed into a mini-OS) that was used by sub-applications to further extend the application. These sub-applications were listed as options from within the program and could do anything from provide a calculator to a memory testing application. BootIt 2 included sub-applications for partition management, boot management, and the like. It used the concept of “boot items” to configure the MBR on the fly when one of the boot items was booted from a boot menu it displayed. It was the first ever all-in-one boot and partition manager and became very popular among the tech industry.

Side Note: In its original design phase, BootIt 2 was to include the capability of running multiple operating systems at the same time with the ability to switch between them using the (previously unused) sysreq/sysrq key on the IBM PC keyboards. However, due to the amount of system RAM required and its high cost as well as the limited CPU speeds, TeraByte abandoned that capability.

After BootIt 2 came BootIt Lite, a standard boot manager with the ability to create boot items and boot multiple operating systems from within the same partition, and BootIt Direct, a very simple boot manager that displayed the standard MBR partitions and volumes from which could simply be booted.

In 2000, BootIt Next Generation was released.  Including a full GUI interface and disk imaging, it built upon and extended the functionality found in BootIt 2, BootIt Direct, and BootIt Lite.  It was the first ever all-in-one boot manager, partition manager, and imaging tool.

BootIt® Bare Metal, released in 2011, is the latest version of the BootIt Product Line first released in 1994 that supports the traditional PC BIOS.

BootIt® UEFI, release in 2018, is the latest version of the BootIt product line and the first to offer full UEFI multi-boot support. With the same dedication to quality, features, and ease of use, TeraByte continues to advance BootIt as the unparalleled leader in its category.