Hewlett-Packard 1640A Serial Data Analyzer 
Written by AnubisTTP on 2006-09-17  


The 1640A Serial Data Analyzer is designed to be inserted inline between two serial devices, where it can be used to display and monitor the data being transmitted across the serial line. The unit can also transmit serial data, and has limited simulation functions that allow it to send and record data in response to strings of characters sent down the serial line by other devices.

1640A Datasheet (PDF)


The 1640A can store 2048 bytes of received data for review, and has an additional 1024 bytes available to store transmitted data. The unit's operating system is stored on ROM inside the machine, there are no disks to be lost or corrupted. Several additional pieces of software were also available in the form of PROM chips that could be installed on the analyzer's motherboard. The unit, when sold new, had a retail price of $5800.

The most interesting feature of this data analyzer is its plugboard, a wedge of plastic attached to the upper surface of the machine. The plugboard uses a matrix to allow the user to interface any of the 25 pins on the analyzer's serial connector to one of the units nine inputs. Patch wires can also be hooked directly into the plugboard to interface the unit with other types of connectors, as we have done several times to analyze Macintosh ADB transmissions. The plugboard also has a "High Speed Mode" button on its underside, though We are not sure what this button is supposed to do. Each of the inputs has an indicator LED to display its status, and there is also a separate bidirectional indicator diode that can be hooked to any of the pins on the device's serial connector through the plugboard.

Hewlett-Packard 1640A Serial Data Analyzer, with Option 002 (HDLC interface).

1640A, taking a peek at some serial data. This unit has a bad bit on IC U34, which does not appear to affect operation in any noticeable way.

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