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HP-IL Files: Where, What, Why, How, etc.

Posted by Dan McDonald on 7 Apr 2000, 12:34 p.m.

This is a piece that I have been working on for some time, and will probably never "finish," so I've decided to put it out to the public. If you have any questions about this, or would like any additional programs or software mentioned in the text, please email me at

Thanks, and happy reading and HP-IL'ing.

Dan McDonald

April, 2000

Rev. 2.1


Ancient Data – Modern Machines: Handling HP-IL Files on Today’s PC

Archive, store, transfer, and copy HP-IL files to and from your modern DOS computer, without the HP-IL/PC Interface Card (HP 82973A). Reach into the past; access and use the wealth of data and expertise that now quietly resides in the "Swap Disk" internet ftp archive. Thousands of files and programs exist for the HP-41, 71, and 75 and are easily available for (almost) immediate use.

Hardware required:

HP-IL capability for your HP-41, 71, or 75.

HP-IL disk drive (HP 9114B)

Any DOS-compatible PC (including Pentium)

Software required:

Public domain programs from the internet

Optional small programs (available on-line as well)


Table of Contents:

Introduction: *

Scope: *

Background: *

Today’s Status: *

How is this useful? *

Technical Background Information: *

Logical Interchange Format (LIF) Storage Structure and Information: *

The Files. *

The LIF Drive Directory. *

The Individual LIF Directory Entry. *

The HP 82973 PC/HP-IL interface Board: *

HP 82973 file storage: *

HP LIF2DOS Software *

Something Useful: Get and Run a file from the Swap Disk Archive *

Something Else Useful: Distribute Your Own LIF Files to Friends and Enthusiasts *

So That’s That *

Important Information: *

Useful Information, or "What do Those Files DO, Anyway?" *

A word or two on Formatting LIF Disks: *

Disks formatted with the HP-41: *

Formatting disks with the PC and LIFUTIL: *

A word or two on acquiring hardware: *

References and Resources: * PPC – LIF Storage Info (partial listing) *

CHHU – LIF Storage Info *

Swap Disks *

The Internet *

Acknowledgements and Special Thanks to: *

Appendix I – Basic LIFUTIL Instructions *

Appendix II – Automatic Extraction of Important File Info *

Appendix III: LIF File Types *

Appendix IV: HP-IL Ebay Prices, Summer 1999 *

Appendix V: HP-IL Device Info *

Appendix VI: Summary of On-Line Files and Information and Programs Referenced: *


The purpose of this paper is to describe how to transfer HP calculator files between DOS and HP-IL, without using the specialized PC/HP-IL interface board (HP 82973A). Background information will be presented to explain the context of this topic and show its relevance. Applications of these techniques will also be shown to illustrate their usefulness.


This paper refers specifically to files generated or used by the HP-41, HP-71, and HP-75 series of calculators. The same general procedures apply to other LIF files, generated by other HP equipment, but any subtle nuances of these files are not explored or explained.


The HP-41 calculator was introduced in 1979, long before desktop personal computers became ubiquitous. As an alpha-numeric, programmable, expandable calculator, it was a very powerful computational tool and became immensely popular. Some of its features that are important to this topic include:

Could do "long" programs

Had Input/Output capabilities

Expandable, to accommodate future, as-yet-undeveloped hardware

A devoted user community developed around this calculator, in many ways an extension of the devoted user community that had developed around earlier HP calculators. Specialized applications and programs were created to exploit the calculator's capabilities. The early means of distribution of these user-developed programs included the following:

Source-code printouts

Magnetic Cards

Bar Codes

Customized ROM

Each of these distribution methods has its advantages and disadvantages.
Source Code Listings:


No additional hardware needed except perhaps a printer for one person to create the listing

Each user would have to re-key in the entire program. Lengthy and prone to mistakes.
Magnetic Card Storage
No need to re-key in the program – quicker and mistake-free Requires additional hardware (Card Reader/Writer) to create or use the cards.

The Card Reader/Writer became notorious for consuming batteries

Could require several magnetic cards per program

Bar Code Creation
Cheap and easy to distribute (photocopies)

No need to re-key in the program – quicker and mistake-free

Requires additional hardware (Bar Code Reader) to read the code.

Time-consuming to create the bar code.

Requires additional hardware (ROMs, printer or plotter) to create the bar code. Plotting bar code tended to quickly wear out the tips of expensive plotter pens.

Customized ROM
Could include a lot of information with one ROM module

No additional hardware required (except the ROM itself)

Expensive to develop and produce

Since it is Read-Only, the contents cannot be easily changed

Table 1: Advantages/Disadvantages of Various Source Code Distribution Methods

As time went on, new hardware based on the Hewlett Packard Interface Loop (HP-IL) was introduced that provided additional options for storage and transfer of programs. This included a cassette tape drive at first, followed later by a floppy disk drive, as well as other devices.

The advantages and disadvantages of the tape and disk drives are summarized in this table:
Digital Tape Drive
Could store much information on one tape

Relatively easy to distribute

No need to re-key in each program.

Additional hardware required (HP-IL Interface adapter, and tape drive itself).

Slowish access time. Much winding and rewinding of the tape in order to read individual programs

Floppy Disk Drive
Could store much information on one disk

Relatively easy to distribute

No need to re-key in each program.

Much faster than the tape drive

Additional hardware required (HP-IL Interface adapter, and disk drive itself).

Table 2: Advantages/Disadvantages of Digital Tape Drive and Floppy Drive

The user communities would hold regular meetings and conferences where ideas and progress could be discussed, and programs exchanged. Even though additional hardware was expensive, there would usually be somebody amongst those gathered who could bring hardware to share, and programs could be disseminated readily at these meetings.

Additional calculators/computers were introduced that could use the HP-IL hardware: the HP-75C/D, and the HP-71B. These machines had strong followings as well, and masses of specialized programs were created to support these platforms. The files created for these machines became larger and more complex. They included large BASIC programs, and special Logical Extension Files (LEX) that greatly expanded the capabilities of the HP-71B. The LEX files took additional hardware (ROMs) to create, but once compiled could be distributed and used without any extra hardware necessary.

During these times, a user "Swap Tape" program was developed. New programs would be collected and copied onto tape, then the tape could be copied and distributed to users. At user conferences, each person would supply their own tape (and contribute programs), all the programs would be copied onto a master tape which would then be re-copied back onto the users’ supplied tape to be taken home.

The Swap Tape program evolved into a "Swap Disk" program, where the same thing would happen using disks for media instead of tape. A single disk would contain programs for the HP-41, HP-75, and HP-71.

HP produced test equipment that used the same disk formats as the HP-IL drive. This test equipment sold very ell, but HP-IL disk/mass storage devices never becam big, cheap, or widespread.

Later on, HP developed a card for the PC that would provide access from the PC to HP-IL devices. This card is called the HP 82973A. Having this card should allow the owner to easily transfer HP-IL files to DOS and back, making the procedures in this paper unnecessary. This card allows the user to do other interesting things, including using the PC keyboard as a keyboard for the HP-71B. (It should be pointed out that HP-71B BASIC files can be composed as text files on the PC, then transferred to the HP-71B using the techniques from this paper, and compiled into BASIC there.) While these 82973A cards are occasionally available on ebay, they were never widely popular, remain somewhat rare, are still relatively expensive, and come with a big warning. The warning is: these cards were designed for old-era PCs (16 MHz speed), and are reported to be unstable at best when installed in a modern PC.

Eventually with the progress in computing and handheld device technology, and for various other reasons, the user community for these devices has changed. Published journals and organized clubs no longer exist. Even the venerable HP Journal has ceased publication and moved "on-line." The years of dedicated enthusiasm by a large user community for the older machines have left behind a legacy of published documentation and archived specialized programs.

Publications and journals of the era from Hewlett-Packard and the user community have been preserved and are available from Jake Schwartz, at His set of CD-ROMs contains over 2,000 pages of tidbits, programs, history, insights, drama, and intrigue. Believe it or not, this can be fascinating if not essential reading for those interested in calculators, calculator history, or just trying to use and understand their good old calculator(s).

The "Swap Disk" program, although "dead," has been archived and lives on-line at and subdirectories. Thousands of files for the HP-41, 71, and 75 are stored there to be downloaded and used.

Today’s Status:

The HP-75C/D, apparently never very popular, is even less so now. The HP-71B has some life today as an excellent handheld implementation of BASIC and a unique and powerful calculator. The HP-41 series of calculators remains popular in the engineering and survey worlds as an excellent easy-to-use programmable RPN calculator. Continuing the tradition of independent user groups, there is strong widespread user support and dedication to HP’s modern calculators (HP-48 series). Hewlett Packard released a new calculator (HP-49G: in stores mid-August, 1999) which initially received mixed reviews from the user community.

Today’s computing world is filled with cheap and plentiful computers with capacious hard disk storage. Email and networks are pervasive and available. Calculators are no longer the only option for the center of the personal computing universe. The old calculators, however, still have just as much computing power as they ever did, and what’s more, most of the extra hardware for them that was way too expensive at the time is still available now but is much more affordable.

So for a moderate investment, the hobbyist of today has the option of owning top-of-the-line equipment from an earlier era, equipment that may satisfy or exceed all of their needs. A person may have, for example, an HP-41 calculator that they want to "trick" out, or use to perform some type of special function. This person may be interested to know that perhaps what they want to do has already been done and resides peacefully in an archived file easily accessible by ftp. This paper will help them find out if that is true, and show them how to get and use that file.

How is this useful?

There are many people who still use and enjoy their old calculators. If this seems unbelievable, a check of ebay prices for HP calculators and HP-IL equipment will show that there is some value left in these devices. Perhaps also of interest are the ebay prices of TI calculators. It should be found that the TI calculators command a much smaller price than HP calculators do. Reasons for this are open to debate, but the point that people collect (and presumably, some are collected to be used) and pay good money for HP calculators should be well taken.

There are several advantages to the HP calculator user of being able to transfer files between the HP-IL file system and the PC/DOS environment. Some of them are listed below:

  1. Mass Storage of HP-IL files. Important files should be stored outside the calculator somewhere, as calculator memory can be lost or inadvertently cleared. The HP-IL storage devices are, small, old and slow. DOS storage devices are ubiquitous, faster, and big. If HP-IL files could be easily kept on DOS instead of old and slow HP-IL, they could be stored, backed up, and handled easily in bulk on a reliable hard drive
  2. Distribution of files. DOS files can be emailed around or stored on-line for easy retrieval. This avoids the old problems of messing with cards or bar code, or sending disks or tapes via surface mail.
  3. Access the Swap Disk ftp archive. Thousands of files of legacy software files are out there waiting to be used again. You can get to them with the PC/HP-IL interface card if you have it, or using methods like this.
  4. Save some time. Imagine typing that entire 16K Startrek Basic program into your 71B, then debugging your typos, only to find out that the whole thing SUCKS. With these procedures, you can take a minute or two to pop it over to your machine and play around with it. Then, when considering the amount of time you have invested in it compared to the amount of time it took somebody to write it, it’s not that bad, and actually kind of fun.
Technical Background Information:

Now that we see how useful it can be, we need to have some background information so the rest of it makes sense.

Logical Interchange Format (LIF) Storage Structure and Information:

LIF is the format used to store data on the HP-IL storage devices (tape or disk). A discussion of LIF can be found on-line at

LIF storage is fairly simple to understand. The first implementations of this system were on tape, so it makes even more sense. At the start of the tape –or disk– space is set aside on the media for the directory: to record how many files there are, what are their names, where they are located, how long they are, whether they’ve been deleted or not, etc. After the directory space comes the files stored one right after the other, like on a tape. One thing about LIF, it’s entirely one-dimensional: there aren’t any of those confusing (or useful) hierarchical directory structures. There’s just the files, one right after the other. Of course, LIF must include other details like the volume label, the number of bytes per record, number of records per file, trying to write a new file over the space vacated by a deleted file, etc, etc, but these are not important to this paper. So on the disk (or tape), there’s the directory and there’s the files.

The Files.

The files as stored are just themselves – ASCII, binary, whatever. If you were to examine the non-directory part of the tape or disk byte by byte, you’d see them all there. And, while you could probably tell where one file stops and another begins, you’d have to be pretty good to tell what each is supposed to do, and you’d never be able to tell what any of them are called (the filename is stored in the directory, NOT with the file). So we all need the Directory.

The LIF Drive Directory.

Here’s what part of the directory of one of my disks looks like.

Figure 1: LIF Directory HEX Dump

This (Figure 1) is a hex dump of the directory. Hey – we can see what looks like file names in this mess. And, it looks like there’s a file name on every other line. Each file stored on the tape or disk has a directory entry, which takes up 32 bytes of space in the directory area. This is how the size of the directory affects the number of files that can be stored on a disk – if there’s not any more room for a directory entry, then even if space is available for storage, you can’t put any more files on your disk.

The Individual LIF Directory Entry.

Here’s what the directory entry for one file looks like:

Figure 2: Individual LIF Directory Entry

So here’s what the directory entry for one file contains:

What we care about right now:

It has the File Name (bytes 01-09)

It has the File Type (bytes (0A-0B)

It has the essential File Implementation Bytes (1C-1F)

These implementation bytes (1C-1F Hex, 29-32 Dec) are very important. They represent various things about the file (relating to size, file type, number of bytes in file, etc.), but what exactly they represent is not important. What is important is that the file can not be used if these bytes are in any way different from what they should be. Programs will not run, data will not be read: the file will be useless. Even though it may have been copied to disk correctly and exist there byte-for-byte identical to its original, if these File Implementation Bytes in the directory are incorrect, the file will not work.

What else the directory entry has:

32 bytes in total

It has the starting record number and file length (in records)

It may have the date/time of file creation (not supported by HP41)

It has the 2-byte value of 80 01 at (1A-1B)

The HP 82973 PC/HP-IL interface Board:

This board was designed by HP to get your PC hooked into the HP-IL loop. Once that was done, you could do a lot of things, including use your PC keyboard instead of those tiny HP-71B keys or store any of your HP-IL calculator files on a DOS disk.

Warning about the HP82973: It was designed to run at the PC speed of its day (16 MHz), and reportedly will not run reliably on today’s PC!

HP 82973 file storage:

It was pointed out earlier that having just the file is not enough, you need the directory entry (and the File Implementation Bytes), too. When the HP 82973 board copies a file from HP-IL to DOS, it figures out the directory entry for the file, tacks that info onto the front of the file itself, then stores them together in one DOS file. Presumably, it separates them again when you bring the file back from DOS and puts it where it belongs. I wouldn’t know, as I have not used one of these boards.

HP LIF2DOS Software

As time has shown, LIF did not take the world by storm, did not become the de facto standard for disk storage format, and "…increasingly became a relic." (Read HP support’s version of this at To extend the life of their product, HP worked up a software package that would allow DOS systems to read LIF-formatted floppies. They called it the HP E2080 LIFUTIL which, although now obsolete, they still remember. HP has thankfully "public domained" this software product, and is giving it away. Refer to for HP’s word. There will be a link there to follow for your own LIFUTIL software. Download a copy of this software, and set it up so that it can be run on your computer. This is the software that will be used to copy files between DOS and HP-IL!

This is a super software product that will allow you to read and write to a LIF disk from your DOS computer. Despite what HP says about it, it has worked fine for me on Intel 486 and Pentium Processors.

Something Useful: Get and Run a file from the Swap Disk Archive

So now with a little bit of knowledge, let’s do something useful! Take a look at the swap file archives online at . Here, some kind person has taken the years of swap disks from "the old days," converted them to DOS format (using the HP 83973 board) and placed them on-line for anybody to look at or download. Hey, that’s great! There’s not just HP-41 programs there, but HP71 and 75 BASIC programs, 100’s of HP71B LEX files, and a bunch of other stuff. This is the true stuff from the glory days of HP calculators, programs and routines from the calculator crowd at their peak… so how do we get to them?

Don’t download them straight from the internet onto your 9114B disk drive and expect them to run…they won’t. No! DO download them from the internet to your hard drive. Then, use your little bit of knowledge and spend some time with the file of your choice. Take a binary editor if you have to, and check out the first 32 bytes of the archived file… why it looks like a LIF directory entry! See Figure 3 - HEX Dump of HP41 Program File (DOS ftp file) for an example of what you should see in these ftp files. Write down the things you need (File Type, File Implementation, File Name) then get rid of those 32 bytes and save the file. NOW, take this truncated file and pop it over to your 9114B disk drive. Refer to Appendix I – Basic LIFUTIL Instructions for help copying files using LIFUTIL, you have to use the special user-defined option for file type conversion.

Voila! Now the file is on HP-IL and ready to be run!

Recap and Summary of Steps to Take: (It is easier than it appears, try it yourself)

  1. Download the file of interest to a local drive
  2. Binary edit the file
    1. Record the Important Info
    2. Delete extra 32 bytes at start of file
    3. Save the file back to disk
  3. Copy the edited/shortened file to the LIF disk.
    1. Follow the guildelines in Appendix I – Basic LIFUTIL Instructions
  4. Copy the file from the LIF disk to your calculator
  5. Run the file.
Figure 3 - HEX Dump of HP41 Program File (DOS ftp file)

You may be thinking, "hey, that’s really super but there’s 1,000’s of files in that archive, and I want them all NOW! To open each one, write down the good bytes, then to delete 32 bytes, save, and copy… well… that’s WORK!" At least that’s what I thought. So I wrote a routine in Visual Basic to open the files, make a record of the file type and implementation, and delete those 32 extra bytes AUTOMATICALLY! AND, I found out another LIF to DOS routine from HP (LIF.EXE) that can be called from a DOS Prompt Command line, so it can be run from a Batch File (remember those?). Check out Appendix II – Automatic Extraction of Important File Info for a summary of instructions on how to do this. Follow these instructions, and you can retrieve files like crazy from the old-time swap disk program!

Something Else Useful: Distribute Your Own LIF Files to Friends and Enthusiasts

Swap disk files from way back running on my machine now! Way cool! But what if I have my own file that I want to distribute? Bar code is still so slow and cumbersome! My 41’s batteries don’t have the juice left to record cards! What do I do? Well… How about using DOS? How about using email? How about using the internet? All the recipient needs is a 9114B disk drive and some knowledge.

Here’s what you have to do: (Refer also to Appendix I – Basic LIFUTIL Instructions)

  1. Put your file onto a LIF Disk.
  2. Copy it to DOS, using LIFUTIL or LIF. Leave the file type "as-is." This will be the file only, without any of the directory entry information.
  3. Find your file’s entry in your LIF disk directory. It’s OK to use LIFUTIL’s hex dump utility for this. Just dump the first 10 or so blocks to the screen, and page through the directory entries until you come to the one you're looking for.
  4. Make a note of the File Type and Implementation.
  5. Include this information in your email or web page so the recipients can get it to their systems correctly. Since you didn't add the 32 bytes to the file, they don't have to delete them. They do have to know the File Type and File Implementation bytes, though.
So That’s That

Now we know how to access/use files that have been DOS-ified by the 82973A board, even if we don’t have one. And we know how to DOS-ify HP-IL files on our own, and what information to include with them so they can be used later on by ourselves or others – given that we have HP-IL disk drives.

Important Information:

If you have the HP-IL/PC Interface Board HP 82973, you can ignore most of this.

If you love creating bar code or magnetic cards, you can ignore some of this.

If you don’t have a 9114B Disk Drive, keep looking for one.

If you get a 9114B Disk Drive, it will need a new battery, located inside the plastic battery holder. Get a direct replacement from Digi-key for $16.36 (Digi-Key Part No. P262-ND, Panasonic Part No. LC-R062R4PU).

Useful Information, or "What do Those Files DO, Anyway?"

Pulling out files at random from the ftp archive can be fun but frustrating. Some, but by no means all, of the files include a .TXT file that tells what it does or have text information inside them that explains what they are. For the rest, how does one tell what a file does just from its title? You could load it onto a calculator and print out a listing, but that’s work, too. I’ve written a 41C program "decompiler" that will take a DOS-ified 41C file and create a text source code listing. Special fonts have been created to address the classic "how do you print a ‘sigma’ or an ‘append’ character" problem. The other classic problem still exists: how to print out the correct function name instead of XROM(xx,yy). This problem is being solved, but needs more time. Ask me for more information on this program which is still being developed.

A word or two on Formatting LIF Disks:

Disks formatted with the HP-41:

The HP-41 does not recognize or require disk volume labels, so it does not create them when formatting a disk. The problem is that LIFUTIL does require them. Since LIFUTIL expects to see a volume label, it will not acknowledge a disk formatted by the HP-41/9114B combination. I have modified an old program to allow the HP-41 to add a volume label to an already-formatted disk. It requires the Extended I/O module, and details are available upon request. It’s easier to format disks with the HP-71 (if you have one) and put a label onto it right away.

There are some limitations regarding the maximum space or number of files that the HP-41 can address on one disk. This seemed to cause come consternation (or at least some programming challenges) in the days of yore, as people wanted to get the most storage possible out of each and every floppy. With today’s diskette prices, without a growing number of HP-IL files, and with the capability of using DOS storage devices for mass storage, I am choosing to view this limitation as a non-problem. Solutions and workarounds of the day are available in the journals, if one is really concerned about it.

Formatting disks with the PC and LIFUTIL:

I have not had much success formatting disks on the PC. The program seems to stop with an error before formatting is completed. Others have not had this problem, so try your luck and see what happens.

A word or two on acquiring hardware:

Keep your eye on your local junk sources and government surplus auctions. Buy what you find, keep what you need, sell the extras!

As of summer, 1999, Jim Carter of Interfab had available some HP41/71/75 accessories leftover when Educalc went out of business around December 1997. Most applicable, he had quantities of the HP41/HP-IL Interfaces (HP 82160A) available for $8.95 each. Call Jim at 949-582-2631.

I monitored ebay for a couple of months (summer 1999), just to see what things were going for at the time. The results are shown in Appendix IV: HP-IL Ebay Prices, Summer 1999 for your information.

References and Resources:

PPC – LIF Storage Info (partial listing)
V9 N4 p42-44 Inside the Cassette Tape Marty Backe (7703)
V9 N6 p3 (letter) –short correction  Bruce Bailey (7115)
V9 N6 p4 (letter) –short correction Marty Backe (7703)
V10 N6 p28-29 Inside the Cassette Tape – Revisited Tom Cadwallader (3502)
V10 N10 p9-11 HP82161A Cassette Utilities – DIRectory Backup Cary Enoch Reinstein (2046)
V11 N9 p55-56 TFSIZE – A Tape Data File Size Finder Larry Lavins (7310)
V12 N1 p6-8 Sizing and Reading Interchange Files John S. Chipman (8801)
V12 N1 p8-13 "Disco Skwid" – Disk Drive Limitations and workarounds Skwid
V12 N2 p15-17 Cassette Drive Problem Turner Morgan [283], (5766)
CHHU – LIF Storage Info
V1 N3 p5 Logical Interchange Files Michael Markov [3]
V1 N3 p12-14 HP-41 Mass Storage Utilities Michael Markov [3]
V2 N1 p28-29 HP-41 Mass Storage Utilities Part II Michael Markov [3]
V2 N3 p62-64 HP-41 Mass Storage Utilities Part III Michael Markov [3]
Swap Disks
Swap07 Lifdata.txt (LIF Directory Entry Info) Michael Markov [3]
The Internet "HP Forum" discussion list, HP Calculator Museum, HP Calculator Classified Ads Archive of HP-IL and swap disk programs and files HP’s freeware of LIF 2 DOS Utilities


Acknowledgements and Special Thanks to:

Michael Markov –

for continuing the Swap Disk program, and for particularly useful articles in the journals.Hewlett-Packard – for the LIFUTIL program, for "public-domaining" the LIFUTIL and LIF.EXE program, and for the obvious…Wlodek Mier-Jedrzejowicz – for his tremendously useful and resourceful book, Extend Your HP41, as well as continued support and encouragement for off-beat little projects such as this.Richard Nelson – for his organizational efforts over the years, especially the editing/publishing of the club journals.Jake Schwartz – for the PPC CC-ROM project, which made the years of journals available to all.???? – for starting and maintaining the ftp archives of HP-IL/LIF/Swap disk files.My wife – for tolerating, if not necessarily understanding, activities like this!
Appendix I – Basic LIFUTIL Instructions

Most of the LIFUTIL instructions are self-explanatory or at least easy to understand. When it comes to copying files from DOS to LIF, however, some additional information is helpful. Because LIFUTIL was not written with these HP-IL files specifically in mind, some extra effort is needed to transfer them correctly.

To Copy from DOS to LIF:

  1. Select "DOS to LIF Copy" Option
  2. Fill in the correct information as requested (file source, destination, etc.)
  3. *** IMPORTANT *** for "File format conversion:"
    1. Press F1 and/or F2 until this option appears:
      "Binary image: No format change, user-def. Type"
    2. Then press F6 to get the special input box that says:
      " User-defined LIF file type: E94B
      Implementation specific field: hhhhhhhh"
    3. Enter the correct FILE TYPE (e080 for HP41 programs), press RETURN
    4. Enter the correct FILE IMPLEMENTATION (viewed with a hex editor), press RETURN
  4. Press F5 to start copying.
  5. Other, minor yet important notes:
    1. File names are CASE sensitive, UPPER case is BEST!
    2. "Fn" keys are instrumental when using LIFUTIL
      1. F1 and F2 are used to cycle through pre-determined choice of options
      2. F3 and F4 (also arrow keys) are used to move between fields
      3. F5 usually starts something
      4. F7 returns a field to its default option
      5. F8 usually returns to a previous menu
    3. Safest to keep "Append to end of disk" for the last option while copying DOS to LIF
To Copy from LIF to DOS:
  1. From the main menu, Select "LIF to DOS Copy" Option
  2. Fill in the correct information as requested (file source, destination, etc.)
  3. For "File format conversion:"
    1. Use this option: "Binary image: No format change (all file types)"
      This is the default option (F7), or press F1 and/or F2 until it appears.
  4. Press F5 to start copying.
Special Considerations for TEXT files:
  1. DOS to LIF
    1. Select File format conversion: "DOS text as HP BASIC ASCII"
    2. Entry of File Type and File Implementation information is not required
  2. LIF to DOS
    1. Select File format conversion: "DOS text (ASCII, HP-UX, S80 DATA, Pascal TEXT)

Appendix II – Automatic Extraction of Important File Info

Files you will need:

Hpilhead.xls – this Microsoft Excel file has a Visual Basic Macro which will read from a source file (with extra 32-byte "header" info) and write the truncated file to a destination file, while saving the file name, file type, and file implementation bytes into a text file for later use.

Lif.exe - Another great public domained software program from HP. This one allows DOS command-prompt execution for copying files between DOS and LIF. This program supports user-specified file types and file implementation bytes. These features can be combined to make a DOS batch file (.BAT) that can handle fast copying of multiple files at once.

How to do it:

  1. Collect and gather files from the ftp archive that you wish to copy to LIF.
  2. Create a listing of these files (including their directory path) in a column in a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet.
  3. In the adjacent column to the right, create a listing of where you would like the truncated versions (without the LIF directory info as the first 32 bytes of the file) to be created.
  4. Run the Microsoft Visual Basic macro contained in the HPILHEAD.XLS File
    1. You have to have the current cell be the topmost one in the SOURCE file column
    2. You have to specify the number of files to be examined inside the VB source code
    3. Feel free to make a better user interface for this code! I don’t have the time right now to do it.
    4. Bear in mind that a text file with the file names, file types, and file implementation bytes will be created in the default directory. Feel free to make a better user interface for this, too!
  5. Use the information in the newly created text file to create a DOS batch file with lines of the following format:


    LIF CP <source> <dest> /R /T:0x<bbnn> /I:0x<aabbccdd>


    1. <source> = the file without the 32-byte LIF directory info in it. Include the path.
    2. <dest> = the LIF floppy drive you are copying stuff to (example -- A: )
    3. /R = for "raw" option. Otherwise you will get extra bits in the file that will make it not work. Trust me on this, or try it yourself and see!
    4. 0x = Number-zero, letter-x (Not LETTER-o, letter-x). This tells the program that the following numbers are in HEX.
    5. <bbnn> = File Type bytes. Include leading and trailing zeros, if any.
    6. <aabbccdd> = File Implementation bytes. Include leading and trailing zeros, if any.
  6. Run the batch file you created, and watch the files fly back to LIF!
Appendix III: LIF File Types

This table shows a listing of all the LIF File Types that I could find information on. These come from various locations in the journals and the ftp archive. I have not verified them all, as I have not seen some of the file types.

File Type HEX Bytes
71 Data E0 F0
71 BIN E2 04
71 LEX E2 08
71 KEY E2 0C
71 BASIC E2 14
71 FORTH E2 18
71 ROM E2 1C
File is Purged 00 00
ASCII/TEXT (HP41 AS, HP75 I (LIF), HP71 TEXT) 00 01
Unused, or End of Directory FF FF
HP41 ROM (ERAMCO) or Extended Memory Files (PANAME) E0 70
HP41 WALL E0 40
HP41 KEYS E0 50
HP75 Text and Key Assignment E0 52
HP75 Appointments E0 53
HP75 Mass Storage Data base files E0 58
HP41 Status E0 60
HP41 Programs E0 80
HP75 (P) BASIC Files E0 88
HP75 LEX Files E0 89
Visicalc Worksheets E0 8A
PMS ROM Files E0 8B
HP41 Data, HP71 SDATA E0 D0
HP71 Secure Text E0 D1

Appendix IV: HP-IL Ebay Prices, Summer 1999

Table 3 - Individual Ebay Item Prices

Description ebay Item # Price
82973 HP-IL/PC Interface 121833884 $159.49
  128412244 $51.00
  125128684 $159.49
  118017680 $208.51
  --- $103.50
82160A HP-41 HP-IL Interface 132761340 $31.00
  11866153 $40.99
  111685256 $20.50
  115351333 $38.00
  119551017 $20.00
  121221637 $11.25
  127418052 $31.00
  127760393 $7.50
(with CTW book) 135799453 $41.00
(with 9114B drive) 125735914 $66.42
9114 Drive Only 128924492 $51.00
82164A HP-IL/RS232 Interface 113498321 $72.99
  131563951 $178.50
  127274796 $135.50
Series 80 HP-IL Interface 121163184 $21.00
82169A HP-IL/HP-IB Interface 127285752 $73.00
  134917689 $28.72
  132445017 $46.00
  132634597 $41.00
  136334922 $32.00
HP 3468B HP-IL Multimeter 112370258 $219.89
CMT 128K Ram Disk + 82160A 127247656 $59.51
82162A HP-IL Thermal Printer 127253522 $25.00
2225B HP-IL Thinkjet Printer 128928162 $6.00
82165A HP-IL/GPIO Interface 133733044 $179.00


Table 4 - Summary of Ebay Prices
82973 HP-IL/PC Interface
82160A HP-41 HP-IL Interface
(with CTW book)
(with 9114B drive)
9114 Drive Only
82164A HP-IL/RS232 Interface
Series 80 HP-IL Interface
82169A HP-IL/HP-IB Interface
HP 3468B HP-IL Multimeter
CMT 128K Ram Disk + 82160A
82162A HP-IL Thermal Printer
2225B HP-IL Thinkjet Printer
82165A HP-IL/GPIO Interface


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