O.T.: HP 9000, HP 9133 programs



#10

This was a full fledged desktop microcomputer early on from HP and to program it, a HP proprietary version of BASIC was used, called Benton Harbor BASIC.

A friend still has one of these systems and has some programs on it that he wants to use on a current model PC, but alas, this language is not used anymore anywhere.

Is there a translator that might be able to read the source programs and put it into a current version of BASIC or some other extant language, or a compiler, perhaps?

The problem is that when he tries to retrieve the programs themselves, the computer overwrites the output with asterisks so he cannot read what the real lines are.

I know this is off topic, but I thought some of you knowledgeable folks, enthusiasts, or the really knowledgeable enthusiasts ;) might know something or have some leads.


#11

"Benton Harbor BASIC" was the BASIC for the Heathkit H8 computer, not HP. The HP 9000 computers run Rocky Mountain BASIC, except the HP 9807A (Integral), which runs Technical BASIC.

What is he doing to "try to retrieve the programs themselves"?


#12

Quote:
"Benton Harbor BASIC" was the BASIC for the Heathkit H8 computer, not HP. The HP 9000 computers run Rocky Mountain BASIC, except the HP 9807A (Integral), which runs Technical BASIC.

What is he doing to "try to retrieve the programs themselves"?


I am not too sure; I'll have to ask him ASAP. I got the impression he was just trying to get the computer to print the lines, but all he got were lines of asterisks.

Sounds like you have notion of what can be done, so I'll get back to you here. Thanks much.


#13

Hi Ed,

I only know of one BASIC compiler for Windows/DOS that is compatible with RMB BASIC for the HP-9000 -- have your friend take a look at HTBASIC. There's also a downloadable pdf on this page offering support for porting legacy HP-9000 code.

Note: I have no relationship with the company other than as a recent satisfied customer. I also have never ported any code myself, so I can't comment on how difficult it is or how well it works. TransEra claims 99+% compatibility.

Hope this helps,

Chris

#14

Quote:
"Benton Harbor BASIC" was the BASIC for the Heathkit H8 computer, not HP. The HP 9000 computers run Rocky Mountain BASIC, except the HP 9807A (Integral), which runs Technical BASIC.

What is he doing to "try to retrieve the programs themselves"?



Ah. He has the compiled programs on some 3.5" floppies, and no copies of the originating BASIC programs. He would like to know if some existing compiler or other software may re-translate them back to BASIC or something else he can use on one of today's PCs.

Outside of trying to read them with some old text editor on that HP 9000, he hasn't tried anything else.


#15

Ed Look wrote:
> He has the compiled programs on some 3.5" floppies, and no copies
> of the originating BASIC programs.

So are the programs in HP Basic or Heathkit Basic? If the former,
then the term "compiled" may not be appropriate, since HP Basic simply tokenizes the program leaving variable names and comments intact. The original Basic source code can thus be reconstituted from the binary. Detokenizers exist for the Series 80 and IPC Basic variants and may exist for other HP Basics as well.

If your Basic is indeed from a Heathkit system, then this forum may not be your best way of helping your friend, as people here are more familiar with HP *calculators*.

**vp


#16

If it's an HP 9000/200 or /300, and the files reside on a 9133, then it is very likely Rocky Mountain BASIC.

If he's getting asterisks on printouts on an HP 9000/200 then the programs may be marked private. This is implemented with a different file type in the file's LIF header on disk. I don't know the file types for RMB BASIC programs, but here's a sample from the HP-71B's file types: (from some Perl code I have, based on Tony Duell's lifutils toolkit)

0xE214 + 0 => "BASIC71",
0xE215 + 0 => "SBASIC71",
0xE216 + 0 => "PBASIC71",
0xE217 + 0 => "SPBASIC71",

So plain old BASIC files are type 0xE214, "secure" BASIC (meaning encrypted with a 16 bit key) are type 0xE215, "private" BASIC files are 0xE216 and "secure" and "private" BASIC files are type 0xE217.

The 16-bit encryption is trivial to crack with brute force, but the "private" files are unlistable merely as a matter of OS policy. That is, if you change the file type of a "private" file to that of a plain old file (0xE216 to 0xE214, in the above example) using a utility on another OS, you then can list the file's contents, print them out, convert them to LIF text format and so forth on the 9000 system itself. You could then transmit them to the 21st century via RS232 or through the listings, to name two possibilities.

Regards,
Howard

Edited: 27 June 2006, 7:59 p.m.


#17

Wow.

Messrs. Owen, Prevelakis, Bennett, and Smith, thank you all deeply. I must confess I'll have to wade through and digest all your replies to be sure Iunderstand it enough to relay it to my friend.

Incidentally, once he decodes his programs he is offering the HP 9000 and 9133 free to anyone who wants it. I would take it except I think I'll get it at home for bringing home another old (to me historically priceless, but the other half doesn't see it that way; at least old HP calcs can be slid into a drawer) piece of equipment.


#18

Probably the easiest way of going about such recoveries is to
tranfer the entire partition (or partitions) to
a modern machine and arrange for this copy to be sent to
someone who can extract the files and try to convert them to
ASCII. In this way the primary disk and its contents remain
safe, while the copied image is taken apart.

I have utilities to extract files from an HP-UX partition of
that era and there are detokenizers that can convert binary
files into ASCII. So the process is failry straighforward if
you have done it before.

You did not mention the exact model of the 9133 drive, but AFAIK drives in that family were less than 20Mb, so you can even upload it over the Internet (or put on a little corner of a CD :-).

The advice I give to people who want to recover data from an old system is to stop using it till the data are off the medium! These things are old, they can die at any moment and you do not want them to give up the ghost while they contain your data. Once the data is off the disk, go ahead and use it all you want, thats whats its there for.

I was really annoyed recently when a 9153A drive died just as I was ready to do an image copy onto my HP9000/345 running OpenBSD. The fault lies in the internal hard drive which is a proprietary HP model (custom bus, in-house design, etc.). So the data is lost for good.

**vp


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