HP 9111A tablet

From: Glenn Sherwood <gvsher_at_netzero.com>
Date: Sat Jan 10 02:36:51 2004


I saw your query on a web search for the 9111A.
I worked in the HP factory where these were made
and they were a high-quality piece of equipment!
It's too bad that HP doesn't support it now.

Some 9111A manuals had example programs for the
85A and other GPIB system setups. The 9111A was
used with the HP300/9000 computers and EGS, which
was quite a powerful CAD system in its day and
you can find some of these systems still working.
The HP EGS software was written in Pascal.

The HP86B had a software program that would use
the 9111A tablet for some drafting work. And it
would plot out a tablet overlay, similar to EGS.
It was called the "Series 80 9111A Tools, Graphic
Tablet System, HP-86/87 Editor" and I still have
a single-sided disk here that was usable on the
old HP 9121 3.5" dual-floppy drive. I also have
a disk of the 9111A HP85 System Tools, but I don't
know if the disks are still good. I might have
the HP85 tools on a cassette also. My HP86B died
and so did my two HP85s. The HP86B might still
work somewhat, but I haven't had time to fix it.
The advantage of the HP86B and the HP87 were
that they had larger screens than the HP85, so
you could see a drawing on the screen better.
The 8-bit systems were pretty slow, however,
so it made any kind of CAD difficult.

One other idea on this is that CEC (Capital
Equipment Corp. in Massachusetts) made a GPIB
interface for the PC called the IEEE-488 and
in their promo literature it gave a GW Basic
program for using the 9111A with a PC. They
claimed to have used the tablet with an early
version of AutoCad but they would not sell a
driver and said it wasn't being marketed. It
gave some code examples in Basic & Pascal.

I've tried to find a PC mouse emulator for the
9111A tablet with no success, but a programmer
might write one without too much trouble. The
mouse protocol is published in some places. It
would require a system with GPIB, or a GPIB to
Serial bus converter like those made by IOtech.
You can find converters on eBay occasionally.

I've got a file of all this tablet stuff here
somewhere and have wanted to do more with this
since I own a 9111A and it sits here unused.
I used an Appoint MousePen with TurboCad once
and thought it worked better than an ordinary
mouse device. It has a feel more like the
tablet, but having used the 9111A with EGS,
I thought it made CAD drafting easier. Some
other types of tablets exist out there too
and some CAD magazines have printed reviews.

Using the 9111A depends on what you want to do.
I'm seeing more of a need for a digitizer, but
HP made some larger units for that task. The
HP7470A and HP7475A plotters can also be used
as digitizers with the Digitizing Scope. It
was an optical view finder that looked like a
plotter pen, only a bit larger in size. You
could put a drawing in the plotter and move it
around with the direction arrows and press the
"enter" button to log a point when you had the
Scope over the position wanted. The plotter
manuals had HPBASIC example programs to do
this. The X,Y data could be stored in arrays
and printed out or stored on disk or tape.

If you find out anything more on the HP9111,
I would like to know what you find.

Glenn Sherwood <gvsher_at_netzero.com>


Vassilis Prevelakis cctech_at_classiccmp.org
Tue Aug 5 22:52:50 2003

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I bought an HP 9111A digitizing tablet on eBay for my HP-85
and I was wondering if anyone has the software needed to drive it.

Alternatively, if anybody has info on the communications protocol
used by the 9111A to talk to the HP-85 over the HP-IB bus, please
let me know.

Received on Sat Jan 10 2004 - 02:36:51 GMT

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