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Model Information

Brother employs a RISC processor for fast PostScript emulation

[Brother HL-8 PS printer]

Model Data
Model Number HL-8PS
Introduction Date April 1989
Original MSRP $4,495


Brother International positioned the HL-8 PS to be competitive with the QMS PS 810 and the Apple LaserWriter II NT. It has the same 35 resident fonts but with different names so as not to infringe on the copyrighted names used in Adobe printers. The HL-8 PS was one of the first PostScript clones on the market.

Brother always intended to make its versions of a printer somehow better than the competition. The HL-8 PS's value added was that it was faster than the Adobe printers. Brother claims that on most benchmarks the HL-8 PS is about 20% faster than the Apple LaserWriter II NTX.

Engineers at The Printer Works tested some of the early versions and found a few bugs that Brother has since corrected. Also, at the time the HL-8 PS was released, Adobe was still protecting their font hinting algorithms. Printers that were not based on a true Adobe interpreter could not use Adobe Type 1 fonts. Adobe indicated that the technology was proprietary and that any company who copied them would be sued. The result was that many clones on the market worked fine until you tried to use an Adobe downloadable typeface. This was the basis of the "font wars" of 1989 and 1990.

Ultimately, Adobe backed off and published the specification for Adobe Type 1 fonts. This new policy was announced, and evidently decided, by Adobe's president John Warnock during a now famous speech in which he was debating with Bill Gates on the stage of the Fall 1989 Seybold Desktop Publishing Conference. Early HL-8 PS printers were not compatible with Adobe Type 1 fonts, but new versions are.

The printer is based on Brother's own clone of Postscript called BrotherScript. The Japanese engineers probably didn't realize the implications of what they were doing when they designed the interactive Postscript prompt to say: "BS" instead of Adobe's "PS."


The HL-8 PS has the unique feature of being able to accept HP compatible bitmap font cartridges for use in HP mode. Most other PostScript printers, following Apple's example, do not have font cartridge slots at all.


The Brother HL-8 PS 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 PS Controller]

Controller Specifications
Part Number B482288-1
Designer/Mfg. Brother
Design Similar to Brother HL-8
Std. Emulations BrotherScript (PostScript Compatible), HP LaserJet II
Opt. Emulations None
Emulation Brand Brother
CPU & Clock Rate TI 34010 @ 40.00 MHz
Bitmap Resolution 300 X 300
RET None
Base RAM 2 Megabytes
Max RAM 6 Megabytes
ROM 384KB (2 x 27512 + 2 x 271024)
Font Cartridges 2 Slots, Std. Full Size
Control Panel Type Full Function with 16 Char. LCD
Standard Interfaces RS-232, Centronics Parallel, AppleTalk
Optional Interfaces None

The controller design uses the Texas Instrument 34010, a processor designed primarily for CRT controllers. Using CRT controllers for laser printer controllers was an idea pioneered by LaserMaster. The result is always a fast controller that can convert vectors to rasters and transfer blocks of bits (called "bitblt" for bit block transfer) much faster than general purpose CPUs, such as the Motorola 68000. The tradeoff is that special high speed RAM is needed. Also, code originally written for a conventional processor must be ported so as to take advantage of the special features of the graphics processor. This can be challenging.

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 PS uses the same toner cartridges as all other SX-based printers.


Many of the font cartidges made by Hewlett-Packard for the HP LaserJet family can be used by the Brother HL-8 PS. When you want to increase your printer font collection, see our catalog page on Font Cartridges from Hewlett-Packard.


The Brother HL-8 PS 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 controller board can be upgraded to 6 megabytes, but the memory boards are not the same ones as are used with other Brother printers. The HL-8 PS needs special high-speed memory boards and fast RAM because the CPU runs at a blazing 40 MHz. This was a very fast clock rate even by today's standards and it is still more impressive when you consider that the controller was introduced in 1989!

Brother has typically been fast at cloning whatever it wanted to clone, but the AppleTalk interface seemed to bring trouble. It wasn't available for about a year after the HL-8 PS began shipping. (Even Apple was a year late in shipping AppleTalk software for PostScript.) Implementing AppleTalk has been a traditional stumbling block for PostScript printer manufacturers.

The Brother HL-8 PS uses 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-8PS is a fast PostScript controller with AppleTalk capability. Early versions were not compatible with Adobe Type 1 fonts, only Type 3. Adding RAM to its controller will improve performance when printing font-intensive documents. AppleTalk is available from Brother as an option.

For PCL 5 compatibility instead of PostScript, the printer could be converted to the HL-8V or to an HP III. Either conversion is easy, since only a controller board and control panel are required, but most users would consider going from PostScript to PCL a step backwards. The HP III upgrade offers Resolution Enhancement Technology (RET).

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
RHL-8PS Printer, Brother HL-8 PS, Refurbished
B482288-1 Controller, Brother HL-8 PS
PS-910 PCBA, Memory, 1MB for HL-8 PS
PS-920 PCBA, Memory, 2MB for HL-8 PS
PS-940 PCBA, Memory, 4MB for HL-8 PS
594330001 Manual, User's Guide, Brother HL-8 PS

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

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