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Controller Notes | Supplies and Accessories | Ordering Information | Text Only

Model Information

Brother's first laser printer offers HP-PCL 4, daisywheel, and dot-matrix emulation

[Brother HL-8 printer]

Model Data
Model Number HL-8
Introduction Date June 1987
Original MSRP $2,895
Replaces Model Brother HR Daisywheel
Replaced by Model Brother HL-8e


The HL-8 was Brother's first laser printer. It was designed to be compatible with HP applications as well as with programs written for the Brother daisywheel and dot matrix printers. It included a full-function control panel based on the standard PCBA used for the LaserJet II and Canon LBP-8II. The control panel overlay and the programming are unique to Brother. The HL-8 was considered a reasonable deal because it was only $200 dollars more than the HP II and it included more RAM, fonts, and emulations. The HL-8 can accept the original HP font cartridges A to Z as well as downloadable softfonts, but it cannot accept any of the third-party PostScript emulation cartridges.

The HL-8 was private labeled by Syntrex Corporation under the model name Laser One. Only 0.5M of RAM came with this model, and the firmware and documentation were changed. The control panel and everything else stayed the same.


The HL-8 contained 15 resident bit-mapped fonts. Each font can be rotated 90 degrees for portrait or landscape, so the font package is equivalent to 30 HP fonts.


The Brother HL-8 has been discontinued, but The Printer Works can build them from parts at special request. Refurbished printers are in like-new condition and come with a Six-Month Warranty. For a price quote, select the printer's part number in the ordering information table.

Controller Notes

Model Information | Supplies and Accessories | Ordering Information | Text Only

[Brother HL-8 Controller]

Controller Specifications
Part Number U12161001 (1MB) or U12160001 (.5MB)
Designer/Mfg. Brother
Design Similar to None
Std. Emulations LaserJet+, Brother HR (Diablo 630), Twinwriter, IBM Proprinter XL, Epson FX 80
Opt. Emulations None
Emulation Brand Brother
CPU & Clock Rate HD68000-8 @ 7.9872 MHz
Bitmap Resolution 300 X 300
RET None
Base RAM .5 or 1 Megabyte
Max RAM 3 Megabytes
ROM 256KB (4 x 27512)
Font Cartridges 2 Slots, Std. Full Size HP Compat.
Control Panel Type Full Function with 16 Char. LCD
Control Panel Part No. U12450001
Standard Interfaces RS-232, Centronics Parallel
Optional Interfaces Video
Compatible Replacements Can be replaced by HL-8e or HL-8 PS

The story goes that Brother's controller was designed by an engineer who had previously designed only daisywheel and dot matrix printer controllers. If this is true, the engineer was a genius, since the HL-8 not only has excellent HP compatibility, but is also astonishingly fast considering its small amount of ROM memory and its slow (less than 8 MHz) CPU.

Expansion memory comes on a custom circuit board. The board is expandable from 1MB to 2MB by adding eight more 256Kx4 DRAMs. This board has been cloned by third party manufactures.

Supplies and Accessories

Model Information | Controller Notes | Ordering Information | Text Only
You can check prices or order these items from the ordering information table below.


The Brother HL-8 uses the same toner cartridges as all other SX-based printers.


The Brother HL-8 printer uses the same shaped paper trays and high-capacity feeders as all other SX-based printers. All versions are physically interchangeable, but there are slight color differences. (See also Diagram 300.)


The Brother HL-8 and HL-8e use unique memory boards. Long-term availablity is questionable. Several third-party suppliers made clones, and some old stock may still be available. Please check with our sales department for current information.


The Brother HL-8 can be upgraded to any of the other Brother models (HL-8e, HL-8PS, HL-8v). These upgrades can usually be accomplished with a simple exchange of controller boards, although sometimes a control panel overlay is also needed. See the next few pages for more information about the capabilities of the other Brother printers.

The HL-8 can also be easily converted into an HP LaserJet Series II or an HP LaserJet III by installing an HP controller and control panel. With an HP controller, a wide variety of PostScript language cartridges and various font cartridges are available. See the HP II printer portion and the HP Font Cartrigdes page of this catalog for more information.

Ordering Information

Model Information | Controller Notes | Supplies and Accessories | Text Only
For price and ordering information or to place the item in your shopping cart,
select a Part Number in the table.
Part NumberDescription
HL-8 Printer, Brother HL-8
U12160001 Controller, Brother HL-8 .5M
U12161001 Controller, Brother HL-8 1M
U12160008 Controller Syntrex (.5M)
594310001 Manual, Operation, Brother HL-8

Model Information | Controller Notes | Supplies and Accessories | Text Only

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