Exploring hp roman: history, variants, and significance

Hewlett Packard (HP) is a well-known technology company that has been in the industry for several decades. Throughout its history, HP has introduced various character sets to support different languages and facilitate communication across different devices. One such character set is the HP Roman family, which includes HP Roman Extension, HP Roman-8, HP Roman-9, and several variants. In this article, we will explore the HP Roman character sets and their significance in the computing world.

Content Index

The Overview of HP Roman

The HP Roman character sets are single-byte character encodings that support Latin script-based languages in Europe. Initially introduced by Hewlett Packard in the late 1970s, these character sets were used in HP workstations, terminals, calculators, and printers. The HP Roman Extension was the first variant introduced in 1978, followed by the 8-bit HP Roman-8 in 198Over the years, these character sets underwent revisions and expansions to accommodate more characters and improve compatibility with different systems.

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One of the significant milestones in the development of HP Roman was the standardization of the 1985 revisions as IBM codepages 1050 and 105This standardization ensured that HP Roman character sets could be used across various systems, including third-party printers. The versatility and widespread adoption of HP Roman made it a popular choice for many HP devices, including the HP-UX operating system and PCL printers.

The Character Set of HP Roman

The HP Roman character sets consist of different characters assigned to specific code points. Let's take a closer look at the different variants and their character sets.

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Roman Extension

The Roman Extension was the initial variant of the HP Roman character sets. Introduced in 1978, it was an extended ASCII 7-bit codepage that worked alongside the primary character set, which was identical to ASCII except for character 12The Roman Extension included graphical non-control alternatives for the first 32 characters, which could appear during self-test or display functions mode. Switching between character sets was done using the Shift Out and Shift In characters or the high bit of the character in systems supporting 8-bit mode.

The Roman Extension was later revised and expanded to include more characters. The final revision in 1985 was standardized by IBM as code page 1050. Although not strictly part of the Roman Extension, the primary character set also had some differences from ASCII. These differences included graphical representations for certain control codes and alternate interpretations for some characters. Overall, the Roman Extension played a significant role in the early development of the HP Roman character sets.


The Roman-8 variant of the HP Roman character sets was introduced in 1983 as the 8-bit version of the character set. It was widely used on HP-UX and various HP and PCL compatible printers. The name roman-8 was officially established in 1983, but a precursor of the character set had already been used in HP workstations since 1978/197

The original version of Roman-8 had some undefined code points, but a 1985 revision addressed this issue by adding new characters and modifying the appearance of certain characters. The final revision of Roman-8 was standardized as codepage 1051 by IBM in 198However, unlike the newer HP Roman-9, Roman-8 does not include a code point for the euro sign.


The HP Roman-9 character set, also known as HP Roman 9 or R9, is a modification of the Roman-8 character set. It was introduced in 1999 to include the euro sign, replacing the general currency sign. HP Roman-9 is similar to Roman-8 in terms of structure and compatibility but includes the euro sign as an additional character.

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As of 2017, HP Roman-9 does not have a specific code page number assigned to it. Nevertheless, it remains a significant variant of the HP Roman character sets, especially for applications requiring support for the euro sign.

The HP Roman character sets, including HP Roman Extension, HP Roman-8, and HP Roman-9, have played a crucial role in facilitating communication and language support in HP devices. These character sets have been widely adopted and standardized, ensuring compatibility across different systems and printers. Whether it's the early days of the Roman Extension or the inclusion of the euro sign in Roman-9, HP Roman character sets have evolved to meet the needs of users and provide efficient communication solutions.

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