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Model Information

[Hewlett-Packard Series II printer]

Model Data
Model NumberHP 33440
Introduction DateMarch 1987
Original MSRP$2,395
Replaces ModelHP LaserJet Plus
Replaced by ModelHP LaserJet III


The LaserJet series II was the first SX-based printer on the market. HP's initial orders were so large that Canon could not build enough to supply both HP and Canon's other customers. Other OEM customers, such as QMS and Apple, had to wait 6 to 9 months to get SX engines in production quantities while HP set industry sales records. For several months, Canon didn't even allow itself production quantities for the Canon LBP-8II. This situation effectively gave HP an exclusive on the SX for all of 1987.

The product was a stunning success from the start and seemed to appear on the front page of every computer magazine. By Fall Comdex of 1988, HP was celebrating the fact that it had sold over a million LaserJet and LaserJet II printers.

HP did an excellent job of positioning and marketing the Series II. The product had just the right features to work well with the most popular software applications of the time. HP provided prototypes to key software houses long before the II was announced. This insured a healthy library of compatible application programs by the time the II hit the streets. HP spent heavily on advertising and bankrolled the distribution channels. The LaserJet series II became the biggest revenue product in HP's history.

Distribution channels were very aggressive and discounted the product heavily. A large percentage was sold through the gray market. HP supported end users directly with HP service. No questions were asked about where it was purchased. HP just fixed it if the serial number was not too old. Low-overhead gray marketers became very efficient distributors and the product ultimately reached end users with a minimum mark-up despite the many middlemen involved. Dealers complained tirelessly that they couldn't make any money on HP printers, and many big HP dealers went out of business. It didn't appear to matter for HP, because there were always more new dealers lined up at HP's doors eager to carry the most successful printer product ever made.

From the beginning, the II was available at most computer stores for less than $2000. Discounted street prices dropped to about $1650 by mid-1988 and stayed at that level until the HP LaserJet III appeared in 1990. In the spring of 1990, HP anticipated that the introduction of the LaserJet III would result in an excess inventory of 30 to 40 thousand LaserJet II printers. They therefore dropped prices to dealers to blow out the IIs. The printers sold so fast that HP had far more orders than printers and was even unable to meet some non-cancelable orders. During the blowout, the street prices dropped to only $995. Within a few weeks, most dealers were out of stock, and the few that had product were able to sell it for about $1400. This seemed ridiculously high considering that the LaserJet III was already discounted to only $1550.

With well over a million LaserJet series II printers sold, one would think that used ones should be available from many sources at low prices, but they're not. HP II printers rarely need repairs, lots of add-on products are available, and users seem to be quite attached to them. In 1991, dealers who had used IIs could easily sell them for $995.

The Series II features both controller and engine improvements over the original CX-based LaserJets. The operator control panel features a 16 character Liquid Crystal Display (LCD) panel instead of a two digit LED display. The front panel's extra characters make it easier to operate that the original LaserJet without referring to the manual. Still, the Series II does have a VCR-like quality that makes it difficult for most users to program.


The Series II has only 6 different bitmapped fonts, but this deficiency is made up for by the availability of thousands of font cartridges and by the fact that many software packages come with built-in HP II-compatible soft fonts.

See the Hewlett Packard A to Z Font Cartridge Series for a listing and part numbers for bitmapped font cartridges.

Font Cartridge Slots

The two font cartridge slots are useable for both font data and executable code. If the CPU sees certain special codes in the font data, it begins executing code from the cartridge. In this way any characteristic of the printer can be changed. Using this feature, cartridges have been developed that change the printer from PCL to HP-GL or to PostScript. Pacific Data Products was the first company to take advantage of the executable code feature of the font cartridge slots when they introduced an HP-GL emulation product called "Plotter in a Cartridge." They followed that product with the successful Pacific Page cartridge, which added Phoenix Page (a good clone of PostScript) for only $695. In 1989, when Phoenix Page was introduced, this was an astonishingly low price. JetWare, UDP, and, eventually, Adobe came out with similar PostScript cartridges.

The hardware of the Series II controller wasn't designed to execute PostScript programs. It was designed for printing bitmapped fonts on the fly, and it doesn't have anything comparable to the ASAP technology for PostScript that Adobe and QMS developed for their 68000-based controllers. Because of this, the first PostScript add-on cartridges were very slow (about 1/4 the speed of the original Apple LaserWriter). Improvements in the art of coding PostScript interpreters allowed the Adobe version and other new implementations to perform at close to the speed of a LaserWriter II NT. Early versions of PostScript cartridges required the user to power-down and extract the cartridge to get back to PCL mode. New versions offer host-based emulation sensing and switching. With any kind of PostScript cartridge, users must add RAM.

See the HP Font Cartridges page for more information.


The Hewlett-Packard LaserJet series II printer 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

[Hewlett-Packard Series II Controller]

click on photo to see larger picture in color

Controller Specifications
Part Number33440-60001 (HP Number)
SG4-6212-050 (Canon Number)
Design Similar toCanon LBP-8II Series
Std. EmulationsPCL level 4
Opt. EmulationsAdobe PostScript, Epson, HP-GL
Emulation BrandHP
CPU & Clock Rate68000 @ 10 MHz
ASIC(s)Yes, Canon designed
Bitmap Resolution (max)300 X 300
Base RAM512KB
Max RAM4.5 Megabytes
Font Cartridges2 Slots, Std. Full Size
Control Panel TypeFull Function with 16 Char. LCD
Standard InterfacesRS-232, Centronics Parallel
Optional InterfacesAppleTalk, LAN

The HP LaserJet series II controller has the largest installed base of all SX controllers. The beauty of this controller is its compatibility and expandability. The two font cartridge slots are compatible with the single slot of the original LaserJet. The overall circuit architecture was made similar to the older LaserJet and Canon LBP-8A1/8A2 designs, allowing major parts of the firmware to be ported. Custom ASICs were developed to reduce the part count, manufacturing cost, and PC board real estate. The base of the SX engine has about 25% less area for a controller than the top cover of the CX engine.

Expansion Options

The expandability of the design is brilliant. The font cartridge slots, memory slots, and the video slots have all been used in ways that the original engineers probably never dreamed of, but it was their open architecture that made these exciting products possible. Counting the RAM expansion slot, there are four connectors that can accommodate expansion products, and all of them contain some of the CPU's bus.

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.
Click category name at right to see a current list of all compatible JetDirect cards we have in stock.

Show me all the JetDirect XIO cards in stock.


The Hewlett-Packard LaserJet series II uses the same toner cartridges as all other SX-based printers. HP Toner available


There are many font cartidges made by HP for the HP LaserJet family. When you want to increase your printer font collection, see Font Cartridges from Hewlett-Packard, as well as the Hewlett Packard A to Z Font Cartridge Series bitmapped font cartridge page.


The Hewlett-Packard LaserJet series II 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.)

You can also buy third party high-capacity feeders for paper or envelopes, as well as an output stacker, to add productivity to SX, RX and TX printers. The sheet feeders can hold up to 1500 sheets; the envelope feeder up to 250 envelopes. The stacker extends your printer's output hopper, allowing it to stack up to 500 sheets.


The LaserJet series II controller board is easier to expand than the controller of the original LaserJet. Up to 4 MB of RAM can be added with boards that conveniently plug in through a removable panel on the lower left side of the printer's base. The only way to expand the memory of on original LaserJet was to replace the expensive controller board with one that had either 512KB or 2MB of RAM soldered into the board.

The memory boards from HP for the Series II are not expandable. Original prices now seem exhorbitant. A 1 MB board used to cost $495, a 2 MB was $995, and a 4 MB board cost a whopping $1995! By 1991, third party manufacturers were offering 0 MB unpopulated cards for less than $50 and fully populated 4 MB versions for under $250. The opportunity created by the HP II encouraged many small companies to get into the business and over thirty firms made add-on memory boards for HP laser printers. See the table below for boards currently available from The Printer Works.


The third way an HP II controller can be expanded is through the optional video interface slot at the back of the printer. This slot gives direct access to the laser beam and printer control electronics so that an external controller can generate the image, bypassing the HP controller. This slot created many opportunities for third party add-on products. It was intended for external video controllers, and many variations were made and more are still being invented.

The video port slot has also been used for data buffers, sharing devices, and fax converters. The electrical contacts of the video slot have much more than the video signal and video synchronization strobes. They have an address and data bus that is connected to the CPU so that the external controller can use resources of the HP controller such as its memory and control panel. Power and ground are also available.

The optional video interface was used by QMS for the QMS JetScript, which added PostScript to the LaserJet II. The JetScript controller is an external printer controller that fits in an IBM PC. The JetScript is based on same ASAP technology that QMS and Adobe developed for the popular QMS-PS 810. The controller is basically a PS 810 controller (without AppleTalk), which has been scaled down to fit on a single IBM PC XT-size full-length card. The combination of the HP II with the JetScript gave users the best of three worlds: True HP II PCL plus true Adobe PostScript on the fabulous Canon SX engine. The JetScript controller had 3 megabytes of RAM and was originally priced at $2,495.

The optional video interface of the Series II also allowed companies such as LaserMaster, DP-Tek, and Tall Tree Systems to create controller boards that produced higher resolution and better gray scales. Instead of merely using uniform 300 dpi dots on 300 dpi boundaries, these controller boards improve resolution by making smaller dots when needed and by positioning the dots on finer vertical boundaries than the standard 300 dpi scan line.


For improved print quality and PCL Level 5, we recommend replacing the controller with a LaserJet III controller. This is easy to install, since the control panel does not need to be changed.

The HP II is well supported by a wide variety of upgrade products. For PostScript capability we recommend a QMS JetScript. The advantage of Jetscript is that it is faster than any of the cartridges and it allows automatic switching between PostScript and PCL.

Note regarding memory and the controller upgrade:
If you purchased extra memory for your HP II/IID, which comes with only .5 MB on board, please remember that this extra memory will not work with the III/IIID controller. However, the III/IIID board does come with 1MB of memory standard. If you want more than that, you will need to buy III/IIID compatible RAM. You can add up to 4MB to the III/IIID controller board, which gives you two RAM expansion slots. But the II/IID printers only have one memory access panel, while the original III and IIID printers have two access panels. If you expand your RAM using a single 4MB RAM board, this will not matter. But if you want to expand the memory using two equal RAM boards to reach the maximum 4MB, you will have to remove the printer's bottom panel to access the second memory slot on your new controller. Therefore, it would be easiest to install a two-board RAM expansion at the same time as the new controller board.


[External Video HP PCBA for LaserJet II]

These video interface cards for the HP LaserJet series II were originally built for the QMS JetScript. They convert the video slot on HP II printers from the CPU's bus to the Canon standard video using a DB-37 connector just like the other VDO printers. These cards are the only ones we know of that provide for automatic switching between the external controller and the HP controller. Also, unlike systems from LaserMaster and others, these cards don't need to be used with a parallel or serial cable interface from the host computer for printer control and status.

If you are a controller board manufacturer looking for a way to access the video interface on HP II printers, don't waste engineering time and money designing your own when you can buy these excellent cards from us at a very low price.

Ordering Information

Model Information | Controller Notes | Supplies and Accessories | Text Only
Click category name at right to see a current list of all compatible JetDirect cards we have in stock.

Show me all the JetDirect XIO cards in stock.

HP Toner available

For price and ordering information or to place the item in your shopping cart,
select a Part Number in the table.
Part NumberDescription
33440A Printer, HP LaserJet II 110/115V
33440AB-AU Printer, HP LaserJet II 220/240V
click on camera icons to see pictures & more details
SG4-6212-050 Controller, HP LaserJet II
MAINTENANCE KIT --->Contents of Kit
click on camera icons to see pictures & more details
ONLY NEED A FUSER ?   Check here
33449-37904  Maintenance Kit, 120V, 100K Pg. Rpl. Parts: HP LJ 2 / 2D / 3 / 3D
5157444PCBA, External Video HP II to Canon Std.
33443BMemory Card, 1MB for HP LJ II/IID
33444BMemory Card, 2MB for HP LJ II/IID
33445BMemory Card, 4MB for HP LJ II/IID
33443B-CLNMemory Card, 1MB, Generic for HP LJ II/IID
33444B-CLNMemory Card, 2MB, Generic for HP LJ II/IID
33445B-CLNMemory Card, 4MB, Generic for HP LJ II/IID
LCS-SX-USP Feeder, Sheet, Genesis JetTray 1500 for SX
LCSEF25-SX Feeder, Envelope, Genesis JetTray 250E for SX
33440-90904HP, LJ II Getting Started
33440-90901HP, LJ II Users Manual
33440-90905HP, LJ II Technical Reference Guide
33449-90906HP, LJ II & III Combined Service Manual
5021-8943 Manual, LJ Family Quick Ref. (Volume I of III)
5090-3390 Manual, LJ Family Quick Ref. (Volume II of III)
5961-0953 Manual, LJ Family Quick Ref. (Volume III of III)

ONLY NEED A FUSER ?   Check here

Regular preventive maintenance will help keep your printer in top condition! See links below for details.

SX maintenance kits contain:

Maintenance Kit for SX printers

 see photograph and details

  • 1 SX Fuser Assembly
  • 1 Transfer Corona Assembly
  • 1 Separation Pad
  • 1 Paper Pick-Up Roller Assembly
  • 1 Fuser Cleaning Wand
  • 1 Delivery Coupler Assembly
  • 1 Upper Fan Assembl


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

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