The Awesome HP 9845


I worked for NASA back in the early 1980s, where I had access to an HP 9845A/B desktop computer.

For its era, it was an awesome machine: 560 x 455 monochrome graphics, a fast, onboard interpreted BASIC, dual tape drives, a built-in thermal printer, plotter/digitizer tablet, and two external 8″ floppy disk drives, with an astonishing 256K each (the twin cabinets on the left of the picture below, each almost as big as the HP!). Our machine was decked out with a bunch of additional ROMs, boosting the machine’s capabilities even further. Of course, the $70,000 price tag might have been a bit excessive for the average consumer….

Without going into the gritty details, I will mention only that our boss allowed me and a friend to work on the machine after-hours, doing whatever we wanted. What we wanted, of course, was games. (The experience we gained showed up in our technical software, which is probably why he was so tolerant.) We just wished we could have talked into upgrading to the HP 9845C–with the color display!

Anyway, this web site is dedicated to the old HP. And to Brad.

Some of our games:

  • Lunar Lander Simulator: More simulator than game. It featured navigation failures/degradation, engine failures, fuel leaks/loss, computer malfunctions, etc. It pretty much required two people (pilot and systems). Surviving required both analytical thinking and quick reactions. I rewrote the game a few years ago, using exact copies of the original graphics, into C++ for the PC. (More…)
  • Baseball: The American classic! Customizable teams and players. One person selected pitch and controlled the defense; the other guessed which pitch (which varied how far you hit the ball) and controlled the baserunners. Lifetime stats were kept for each player. This game even featured crowd movement in the stands!
  • One-on-One: I loved this game. Both people create players according to the skills they choose and play against each other. Included real (and random) officiating–just like the real thing.
  • Star Trek: An exact recreation of the USS Enterprise and her systems. Okay, maybe not: but you did have to control navigation, life support, sensors, and weapons, all while under attack from pesky Romulans and Klingons.(More…)
  • Sub Hunt: The was the precursor to Search & Destroy. Find and sink the sub before he does the same to your fleet (and you!).
  • Jets & Tanks: Two games here: tank vs. tank or F-16 vs. tank. (More…)
  • Auto Racing: Grand Prix or Drag Race. More often than not, Grand Prix became Demolition Derby.
  • Cards: Solitaire or Blackjack–name your game.
  • Others: We had numerous other games in various stages of completion, before our career paths went in different directions: shooting gallery (pictured), where you shot at vehicles from every other game (including Klingon battlecruisers!), Mastermind, and probably others I’m forgetting.

Here’s to you, Brad.

Fellow computer genius


10 Responses to “HP 9845 Software”

  • Francois Lanciault:

    Hi!

    Those games look GREAT ! Do you still have the original tapes/disks ? I would really like to try them on my 9845.

    Have a look at http://www.hp9845.net on how to transfer old 9845 program to PCs. The guy running this site (Ansgar) is trying to preserve every software ever written for this amazing machine. Maybe you already know him.

    If you only have the 8″ disks, I could make the transfer for you as I have the same disc drive as those on the picture (Ansgar does not!)

    Regards,
    François Lanciault

  • Brad:

    Hey Burlison, thanks loads for fingering me on this s/w stuff! The Feds were here today with an arrest warrant (you know the deal… black SUVs, dark glasses, etc.). Something about using government resources and time for personal pursuits. I tell ya buddy, I ain’t goin’ down alone!

  • No hablo Ingles, Señor

  • Don:

    Hi terry,

    I’m wondering if you could help me.

    I’ve been looking everywhere for a game i used to play in my child hood, I’m pretty sure it was on a monochrome screen because the game was green on black.

    The computer was ancient, definitely one of the first PCs.

    The game was pretty much a line that was constantly falling and you had to use the spacebar to make the line go upward. the objective of the game was to avoid a bunch of stars spread out by navigating with this line and to get from one side of the screen to the other.

    Every level the speed and amount of stars would increase and the exit gap on the other side would get smaller, in later levels the stars would also begin to flash in and out of existence making it near impossible.

    I have literally searched the entire web for this game and cannot find it, i even made it on a software processing programme but its just not the same.

    I really hope you know what game I’m talking about, or can at least find out though the extensive network in the computing field I’m sure you have.

    please HELP!!

  • Hmm, sorry; it doesn’t ring a bell!

  • Mark Adams:

    Hi Terry,

    Fond memories of Lunar Lander any chance I can have a copy for the PC?

    Happy to contribute as I would love to play it again!

    Are there any HP9845 emulators out there that can run on a PC

    Thanks

  • Hi!

    Those games look GREAT !

  • Thanks. They were so much fun to play–and to write. Some of the best times of my life back then!

  • Patrick:

    I programmed one of the fantastic computers back in ’88
    I had two games…
    One was a WW one biplane dogfight and the other a Cold War bomber. Both great fun. The bomber crossed the screen – you raised or lowered its flight and dropped bombs on targets silhouetted on the ground. The biplane …. basically a 2D dog fight. I don’t recall their names.

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