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I just picked up one of these (along with 10 typewriters) at an auction for $5 (about $2.50 US).

It came with a 128K memory expansion, a ROM expansion (with IO ROM) and 2 serial port expansion modules as well as an HP-IB cable (I saw the disk drive at a previopus auction but didn't recognise it at the time DAMN!!!!)

Anyway, it came without any manuals or display.

Any idea if it needed a certain dedicated display, or whether something else could be pressed into service?

The HP-86B used a composite video ouput that is NTSC compatable. You could try using a PAL TV that has an NTSC input option (I had one of these in my hotel room in Singapore this past July). The HP-86B had an 80 colume display and, if the TV is lacking the required bandwidth, the characters may be badly blurred. Good Luck!