Conversion HP87XM Basic & HP GL


Having just reactivated my first attempt at computing (an HP87XM), I am saddened by all the effort that was lost when the improved Basic of the 87XM was stored on disks that can only by recovered and ran in that obsolete version of Basic and on the mass storage systems of that machine.

In the early 1980,s a number of retired engineers,of which I am one, found they could buy these desk sized engineers work stations and program their life long experience into the specially formatted 5 1/4 disks of the related mass storage floppys. With time on their hands and literally a world of experience and data it was a natural thing to do at that time. My guess is that a lot of readers will think, So what, that era is past-get with the fun and games of the world today.

But I am not willing to concede the loss of all that effort so long as there is one fully operable 87XM system left which could read the old format and somehow be manipulated into producing these old programs in a modern lanquage and able to run in a PC machine. Because the 87XM disks had special track spacing and RPM this might at first have to be a small shop operation where the old programs would be processed in the 87XM to the most closely related current Basic and HP GL graphics and output to current floppys and in current format. If my guess is right, we are about out of time. The fellows who wrote those old 87 programs are not going to be around much longer nor have the energy to take on the effort of bringing them up to date. Plus the machines themselves are around 20 years old.

Open questions: How much interest exists among those with programs developed for the 87 to have a PC version of their earlier work and to what extent would HP support such an activity considering in hindsight that we followed them down a blind alley which ended about 1984 when they quit supporting the 87 and similar machines.



One of my personal projects has been to find as many HP 85 tapes with factory programs and resave the programs on 3 1/2" floppy disks since many of the tapes are literally falling apart.

However, I'm also interested in the old HP 87 programs. I have at least one 87XM around here and at least one of every floppy disk drive that HP ever made including the 5 1/4" and 8" floppy drives. I haven't had time to do much with the 85s and 87s but I'll help if I can.




Many thanks for coming back on this. It was not clear to me if you were proposing to save 87 programs on 3 1/2 inch floppys under HP enhanced basic and using the HP9121 mass storage or converting the old programs to normal IBM Basic or some other lanquage that could run on an IBM PC. I did get one response that led to getting a non-operable HP9121 which has one of the first Sony drives for 3 1/2 inch floppys and seems to be set up for reading only one side-any way it is not working so I am still in the market for an operating HP9121.

Incidently I started to list the HP87 enhanced Basic functions and statements and quickly found out that there were many that had no equivalent ones in any version of IBM Basic hence a simple lookup table program would not work. Probably the best thing to do for the present is to print out hard copies of all your proprietary programs and file them until the day comes, if it ever does, when someone comes up with the best way to make a conversion into some modern lanquage.

One final thought, Betty Roller sent me an e-mail message saying that she is sending a HP80 series 5 1/2 floppy to Oswego Software,Oswego, IL for conversion to IBM Basic so there may be some way around the lookup table approach that I tried.


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