The protocol enables computers to get the IP address without any disk operations against floopy disks or hard disks. Historical UNIX-like diskless workstations tended to use BOOTP to obtain their IP address as well as the name and location of their boot image or kernel.
DHCP (Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol) is a new and advanced protocol based on BOOTP. Because BOOTP is considered rather obsolute, DHCP is usually recommended to use.
See also: RARP.