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

Model Information

Brother's improved laser printer offers more features than the competition

[Brother HL-8e printer]

Model Data
Model Number HL-8e
Introduction Date February 1989
Original MSRP $2,895
Replaces Model Brother HL-8
Replaced by Model Brother HL-8V


The Brother HL-8e is an improved version of the HL-8. It continued Brother's mission to offer significantly more value for only a few more dollars. Its main competition when introduced was the HP LaserJet II. All other non-PostScript printers had only a minuscule market share. With 36 fonts, an extra half megabyte of RAM and HP-GL emulation, the HL-8e succeeded in stealing some market share from the HP II.

The addition of HP-GL was the most important new feature offered by the HL-8e. At the time the HL-8e was introduced, the market needed HP-GL because many CAD/CAM applications did not have PCL drivers or, if they did, PCL was painfully slow. The vector-based HP-GL language reduced the amount of data needed to describe engineering diagrams. Built-in HP-GL represented significant value added, because the other HP-GL options for HP LaserJet II owners were either to buy a LaserMaster CAPcard (cost was over $1000) or a Pacific Data Products Plotter in a Cartridge (cost was about $300). Eventually, HP obsoleted the HL-8e and all of the HP-GL add-on products when they introduced the LaserJet III, which included HP-GL as part of PCL 5.

Many review articles rated the Brother printer superior to the HP II and gave it Best Buy accolades. Dealers started recommending it and gradually it began to garner market share. Computer users were often hesitant to buy the HL-8e because it didn't have the HP name. Customers suspected that it wasn't 100% HP compatible.

As it turned out, they were right. The HP emulation worked extremely well, but the font cartridges could not accept all of the upgrades designed for the LaserJer II. Font-only cartridge slots worked fine, but the cartridges offering new operating programs, such as Pacific Page that gave the HP II PostScript compatibility, didn't work at all. This severely limited the upgrade options and many dealers stopped recommending it. PostScript upgrades from Pacific Data Products, JetWare, and Adobe Systems became the hottest selling printer add-ons ever, and none of them worked with the HL-8e.


The HL-8e has basically the same set of fonts as the HL-8, with the addition of a 10-point Helvetica font called BR-HLV and a 10-point Times-Roman-like font called BR-TMS. There is also a font for HP-GL called Stroke. There are actually only 18 fonts, but each one can be rotated for portrait or landscape which gives the HL-8e the equivalent of 36 HP fonts.

Comparison articles found the HL-8e to be superior to the HP LaserJet II in every way except print quality. The fonts in the HP LaserJet were hand tuned for 300 dpi by experts at Bitstream. Brother fonts were clones created by less experienced artists and they didn't look quite as good.


The Brother HL-8e 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-8e Controller]

Controller Specifications
Part Number U13611001
Designer/Mfg. Brother
Design Similar to Brother HL-8
Std. Emulations LaserJet+, Brother HR (Diablo 630), Twinwriter, IBM Proprinter XL, Epson FX 80, HP-GL (HP 7475A)
Opt. Emulations None
Emulation Brand Brother
CPU & Clock Rate HD68000-8 @ 7.9872 MHz
Bitmap Resolution 300 X 300
RET None
Base RAM 1 Megabyte
Max RAM 3 Megabytes
ROM 384KB (2 x 27512 + 2 x 271024)
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 HL-8e controller is a new design that can accommodate up to 768K of ROM. To distinguish an HL-8e board at a glance from an HL-8 board, notice that the ROM sockets and the CPU have pin one placed towards the left side of the printer on the HL-8e and they are arranged in a 1x4 block of four. HL-8 boards have pin one of the CPU and ROM towards the front of the printer (towards the font cartridge connectors) and the ROMs are arranged in a 2x2 block.

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-8e uses the same toner cartridges as all other SX-based printers.


The Brother HL-8e 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-8e can be converted to any of the other Brother models (HL-8PS, HL-8V). These upgrades can usually be accomplished with nothing more than a controller board exchange (sometimes a control panel overlay is also needed). See the next section for more information about the capabilities of the HL-8PS and HL-8V.

The HL-8e can use most of the font cartridges for the HP II, but it cannot use any of the emulation cartridges. For this reason, you may want to convert the HL-8e into an HP LaserJet Series II or an HP LaserJet III by installing an HP controller and control panel. See the HP II and HP III Printer & Controller sections for general model and part number 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-8E Printer, Brother HL-8e
U13611001 Controller, Brother HL-8e .5M
U12152001 PCBA, Memory, 1MB for HL-8/8e
U12157001 PCBA, Memory, 2MB for HL-8/8e
594320001 Manual, Operation, Brother HL-8e

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

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