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I saw the HP-85 presentation at the HHC 2013 conference and bought one from Larry Atherton of La-Tech-Renewal. It works great and is fun to use. I remember when I bought my first 41C there was an 85A but I could never afford it on my military salary. I wanted one so bad. I could barely afford the 41!
So now I have an 85A. I also acquired from Larry an HP 82901M 5 1/4" dual-disk floppy drives along with an HP-IB I/F and Mass Storage ROM. It all works great.
So, how do I get programs from the Internet and onto the 85A? Do I need to use Lif2DOS or LIFUTIL programs? Then I would need an old PC with 5 1/4 floppy drives. Is there another way?
I also want to get the HP 82938A HP-IL interface so I can use my IL peripherals like my 9114B 3 1/2" disk drives. But I understand that an HP-85 can talk to a 9114 only if it has the Extended Mass Storage ROM which is only available for the 86 and 87. The HP 82901M uses the Amigo protocol over HP-IB and the 9114 uses the SS-80 protocol. That's what I love about standards, there are so many to choose from! I wonder if an HP-IL to HP-IB on the 41C loop would make a difference?

Anyway, if you have any suggestions to ease my headache, I would appreciate it.


First off the 85A with or without the extended the Extended Mass Storage will not be recognized a 9114 in my experience, I have tried it both with a HPIL adapter for the series 80 and also with a HPIB to HPIL adapter.

LIFUTIL will work but you will likely need a DOS machine with a diskette drive the same format as your 82901M to create the diskettes
this would probably be the easiest way.

You may also wish to look at HPDIR and HPDRIVE at http://http://www.hp9845.net/9845/projects/ these programs where created to provide emulated disks for HP9845 but do support LIF format and will work with Series 80 machines, the HPDIR program can be used to
copy DOS files into virtual disk images.

You can have the extended Mass Storage on your 85A, there was a version for the 85B that will work on the 85A, but there is a catch. To make it work you need the 85B version of the Mass Storage ROM and the 85B Electronic Disk ROM and on the 85B those two ROMs where built in, so the only way to have them on your 85A is if you have an EPROM card, with EPROMs burned with the appropriate images, this is what lead me to design my first EPROM card that I used with my 85A to talk to a 9122C diskette unit. There is a person commercially making EPROM cards see http://vintagecomputers.site90.net/hp85/prm85.htm . If you are handy and interested I posted my designs at Paul's ROM Cards
I have never gone beyond making hand wired prototypes of mine, I only created them for my use but made my designs public.

Edited: 17 Oct 2013, 8:47 a.m.

About the headache, new glasses and/or scotch (18 yr single malt).

Have you tried talking to Dave Ramsey?

Is the 85 in the bedroom or the den?


Check out the following websites, I believe your questions can be answered here.


There are other links and resources at the Series80 site.

I'll have you know sir that the HP 85 is in the living room! Seriously, thank you for your suggestions and feedback. I found a PDF of the Extended Mass Storage ROM and it says it will work on an HP-85B, 86 and 87. There is an upgrade kit to convert an 85A to an 85B, the HP 83972. Here is a chart I found while searching about the upgrade kit:

I set up the following combinations to confirm Jan's report, OK means CAT worked, FAIL means disk access fails and a 'time out' error occurs.

9121D = Amigo protocol drive
9122D = SS80 protocol drive
85B has built in I/O and Mass Storage ROMs

85A + I/O + Mass Storage + 9121 = OK
85A + I/O + Mass Storage + EMS + 9122 = FAIL
85B + 9121 = OK
85B + EMS + 9122 = OK
85B + 9122 = FAIL

I will follow up on your suggestions.


The Extended Mass Storage ROM used on the 85B is different from the one used on the 86s and 87s, in fact all the ROMs are different between the 83/85 and the 86/87.

As I mentioned previously while not officially supported the 85B Extended Mass Storage ROM can be made top work on the 85A.