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Access Internet with Your HP Palmtop

Access Internet with Your HP Palmtop

Send and receive e-mail, surf the World Wide Web, visit Newsgroups, up- and download files, and log on to another computer half-way around the world all from your Palmtop.

By Jesper E. Siig

With all the media hype about "the Net" you might get the impression that it's some complex, well organized, world-wide organization providing an information network. Well, there's no phone number you can call to talk to someone at The Internet Company. All Internet is, is a huge bunch of independent computers around the world linked together via phone lines, allowing them to exchange information. That exchange of information is what makes the Internet interesting, along with the possibilities that lie in the different services offered by Internet providers.

Internet grew from a military network called the ARPAnet, designed to be totally de-centralized. This is one of the reasons for the total anarchy which seems to rule the Internet. Fortunately, over the years a number of different services have been made available on the Internet to make order out of anarchy. Lately, five have emerged as the most important:

  • E-mail -- turning your computer into an electronic mail box.
  • The World Wide Web -- an Internet service that links hypertext documents between computers on the net.
  • Newsgroups -- Forums where a specific topic is discussed.
  • File Transfer Protocols -- A way to transfer specific text files and software programs from other computers on the Net to yours.
  • Telnet -- A way to connect and log on to another computer on the Net and make use of the files and programs on that system.



We'll look a these services in depth and discuss how they can be accessed from the HP Palmtop, starting on page 16. But first, let's look at what is necessary to physically connect an HP Palmtop to the Internet.

Connecting up to the Internet with the HP Palmtop

The way you choose to access the Internet influences what Internet resources will be available to you once you're connected. The rest of this article describes how to connect to the Internet via the HP Palmtop and what additional hardware and software you'll need to access the Internet services described above.

Hardware needed to connect to the Internet

You'll need the HP Palmtop PC, some type of modem and a cable to connect the modem to an active phone jack. There are many PC Card modems available that work with the HP Palmtop, including the Megahertz XJACK, Smart Modem, EXP ThinFax, and more. All you have to do is slip them in your Palmtop's card slot, connect them to a phone line and dial the appropriate phone number (more on that later). You can also use many external modems that use their own power source. External modems that draw their power from the computer they are attached to will not work with the HP Palmtop. (See the product index at the end of this article for price and contact information on the above products.)

You can also send and receive Internet e-mail from your Palmtop using wireless communications services like RadioMail. In addition, if you have access to a LAN (Local Area Network) that is connected to the Internet, it may be possible to connect your Palmtop to your LAN using a Silicom PC Card LAN Adapter and access Internet through your LAN.

Selecting an Internet service provider

It is possible to directly access the Internet. But this requires expensive equipment and dedicated phone lines. Most users go through an intermediary know as an Internet service provider (ISP). These service providers have the equipment and dedicated lines necessary to connect directly to the Internet and provide their subscribers access to the services of the Internet through their connection. Subscribers use their own computer and modem to log onto the service provider's computer and access the Internet through it.

Many large companies and educational organizations are already connected to the Internet, either through service providers or via direct access using their own equipment. If you're lucky, you may already have access to the Net and not know it. Check with your organization's computer systems administrator.

Whether you access the Internet through an ISP or via direct access, there a basically two ways of connecting to the Internet: a Shell Account or via an IP connection.

Access shell accounts using the HP Palmtop

A shell account is the most common way to connect to the Internet. The user connects up to the service provider's host computer from his or her computer via computer/ modem and a terminal emulator, is prompted for username and password, and is logged into his or her shell account.

The service provider's host computer is usually a Unix system (as opposed to a DOS or Windows system). The subscriber will either have to know his or her way around cryptic Unix commands, or run a Unix shell program that provides more user-friendly menus to access the features of the system. Service providers may also set up a menu system on the host to make it easier for the user to choose desired services. Either way, the user is limited by the Internet features and services installed on the service provider's host Unix system.

The traditional way to connect to a Unix system uses a VT emulator (a.k.a., character cell video terminal emulator). A terminal is simply a screen and keyboard along with the circuits necessary to connect it to a computer. In the days of main frame computers, everyone worked on a terminal that was connected via cables to the computer that was located off in a room somewhere.

A VT emulator (like the Palmtop's built-in DataComm program) is a small software program that teaches your Palmtop how to behave like the terminals used by Unix systems. It emulates VT100, VT220, and ANSI terminals. This allows the Unix system to recognize the Palmtop's keystrokes, and display information on the Palmtop's screen. Some terminal emulators like DataComm have scripting capability. This allows users to write small scripts that automatically call up the host system and perform certain tasks.

To copy files between the service provider's host computer and the user's computer, both systems have to have the same file transfer protocol available. The most common protocols are Kermit, Xmodem, Ymodem and Zmodem. All are built into the HP 100/200LX and can be selected from Datacomm's File Transfer Protocol screen by pressing (MENU) File Protocol.

As mentioned above, the most common file transfer protocols are built into the Palmtop and accessible through DataComm. Listed below are some additional programs that provide terminal emulators or file transfer protocols:

{COMMO} (COMMO.ZIP) This small, robust communications program, has a very decent VT102 terminal emulator built-in. {COMMO} is a shareware program and can be found on-line at the following locations:


ftp://eddie.mit.com/pub/hp95x/NEW/commo641.zip ftp://oak.oakland.edu/Simtel/msdos/modem/commo641.zip


HPHAND 100/200LX

DataComm COMMO.ZIP (V6.6)

Kermit (KERM2.ZIP) This freeware communications program supports VT102 emulation. This earlier version of Kermit take up much less RAM than the most recent one, and will probably provide all the capabilities you need. Kermit can be found in the following locations:


ftp://eddie.mit.com/pub/ hp95x/comm/kermit2.zip



Access Internet Protocol connection (SLIP/PPP) using the HP Palmtop

Recently more and more service providers allow users to make a temporary direct connection to the Internet. This is done using either the Point-to-Point Protocol (PPP) or the Serial Line Internet Protocol (SLIP).

As was the case with shell accounts, the user dials up and logs onto the service provider's host system using either a terminal emulator (described above) or a dedicated dialer program. After the user connects with the host system, either the host automatically starts the PPP or SLIP program, or the user runs the program from his Palmtop. From here on, the user can access the features of the Internet just like any other system on the Internet.

Listed below are one PPP and one SLIP program that can be used on the Palmtop:

EtherPPP (in INETDOS.EXE) -- This program can be used in connection with DosLynx (a DOS-based Web browser) and Minuet (a suite of Internet applications, developed at the University of Minnesota) to establish a PPP connection from the HP Palmtop to a service provider's host system.


ftp://ftp2.cc.ukans.edu/pub/ WWW/DosLynx/support/etherPPP.zip


CIS: Internet New Users / CIS Dial PPP PCs / ETHPPP.ZIP

Slipper (SLIPARC.ZIP) -- If your service provider only allows a SLIP connection, you can use SLIPPER to establish the connection.


ftp://ftp2.cc.ukans.edu/pub/ WWW/DosLynx/support/slippr15.zip


Internet New Users / CIS Dial PPP PCs / SLIPARC.ZIP

MyIP (in INETDOS.EXE) -- When you create an Internet Protocol connection using the SLIP or PPP protocols, you are assigned a TCP/IP address. (TCP/IP is the standard protocol with which two machines on the Internet talk to each other.) The Internet programs you run will need to know this address and MyIP will set it for you automatically.


Internet New Users / CIS Dial PPP PCs / MYIP.ZIP

Five important Internet services

These services can be accessed by any computer user, not just Palmtop users.

1. E-mail

Electronic mail is probably the most important and utilized feature of the Internet. It turns your computer into a mailbox from which you can send and receive short or long messages to anyone in the world with an e-mail address.

First you have to get an account and e-mail address with an Internet service provider. Many business and educational networks interface with the Internet, allowing their members access to the Net. Once you have the e-mail address and the appropriate software on your computer, you can send e-mail to any other e-mail address around the world.

For example, my e-mail address is jesper.siig@dmo.mts.dec.com. The first part of this address, jesper.siig identifies the name of the person to whom you want to send the message. This part of the address can also be an I.D. number, or an alias. The second part of the above address, @dmo.mts.dec.com identifies the Internet service provider or organization where the individual's Internet account is located.

2. World Wide Web

This is also known as WWW or simply The Web. It came in late, but has played a very essential part of the popularization of the Internet.

You can conceive of the World Wide Web as one large hypertext document, made up of an almost infinite number of smaller documents on subjects too numerous to conceive. It's a little like walking into a spider's web. It's easy to get caught there, and hard to extract yourself.

Various programs have been written to help you find your way around the World Wide Web. Most of them run on Windows PC's, but programs also exist for Macs, DOS PCs, MOTIF and VT terminals.

The key to finding something on the WWW is a Uniform Resource Locator, or URL. A URL combines information about the address of the site where the resource is located, the subdirectory location of the resource, (where used) the name of the file, and the type of protocol being used. (A protocol is a set of rules that govern the way one machine communicates with another.)

Take a look at the following sample URL describing the location of a document that provides information on connecting a Palmtop to a UNIX shell account:


This URL is a single line address. Understand the above URL as follows:

http -- An Internet protocol used for transmission of hypertext information.

:// -- Standard URL punctuation separating the protocol from the domain name.

netmar.com/ -- Domain name of the system where the resources are stored.

users/doc/local/ -- Description of the directory and subdirectory path leading to the resource.

inet200.txt -- Name of the file to be retrieved.

3. Usenet Newsgroups

Usenet is not a formal network, but a large number of systems (known as news servers) that exchange messages (referred to as articles) organized into subjects (known as newsgroups). Communications between news servers is done using the Net News Transfer Protocol (NNTP).

An individual Usenet newsgroup is a forum where a specific topic is discussed by members sending messages back and forth. Almost any topic you can think of has a newsgroup devoted to it. At the present more than 14,000 newsgroups exist.

No single person or organization controls Usenet. Individual Usenet nodes are maintained by corporations, educational institutions or individuals who implement a newsgroup at their own expense.

To access a Usenet newsgroup, you need to know its name and the name of the system hosting the newsgroup, know as the news server. Different news servers host different newsgroups. You may be able to access a specific newsgroup from a number of different news servers. However, not all news servers provide access to the same newsgroups.

Usually your network administrator or Internet service provider will be able to supply newsgroup and news server information. You'll probably also be using a newsreader on your computer. This software helps automate the process of connecting to the desired newsgroup, downloading and uploading messages, sorting them into threads, and displaying the articles. Most newsreaders can generate a list of newsgroups for you.

Newsgroups are named following an accepted set of rules, leading off with an identifier that tells the type of newsgroup it is, and followed by a more specific name. Take a look at the following newsgroup name:


Understand the name of this newsgroup as follows:

news -- Not part of the newsgroup name, but tells a web browser that you will be using the NNTP protocol to access comp.sys.palmtops.

comp -- a computer related subject concerning a specific

sys -- computer system,

palmtops -- palmtop-related information.

Some newsgroups support the sending and receiving of binary files as well as text files. Text files contain messages and information. Executable software programs are typical binary files. Binary files must be UU encoded to prevent file corruption during transmission. (See page 21 for more on UU encoding.)

4. FTP

The File Transfer Protocol (FTP) is the protocol used between the systems that exchange files. For example, you might see an address like this:


The ftp in the above address indicates that the File Transfer Protocol will be used for communications. The rest of the address indicates the exact location where a specific file is on the world-wide library of the Internet. This information lets you make an FTP request to access not only text files, but great freeware and shareware programs for all sorts of computer systems.

The only problem with this world-wide library is that there are no librarians around to help you find what you need. This sometimes makes it difficult to know where to look when searching for something specific.

Most systems on the Internet have the potential for serving FTP requests. All it requires is that the administrator of a particular system lets the outside world access (parts of) the disks and directories of files on the computer.

To access a FTP library you have to know which system has the file you want, the directory in which the file can be found, and the name of the file. If you know all of the above what you do is:

  1. 1. Connect to the system.
  2. 2. Log on as a guest (using anonymous' as user name and your e-mail address as password.
  3. 3. Ask the system to transfer the file to your machine.



If you have access to e-mail, but not FTP, you can still make use of FTP. Some systems allow you to send e-mail requesting that the file you're interested in be sent to you. One such service is FTPmail, provided by Digital Equipment Corporation. For instructions on how to use this service, send an e-mail to: ftpmail@decwrl.dec.com.

5. Telnet

Telnetting allows you to connect to someone else's computer anywhere on the Internet, log in, and make use of the programs that are available on that system.

To use Telnet you need to know the name of the system you wish to connect to. Additionally, you'll need a valid username and password to log onto that system. Some systems have public accounts that allow anyone to log on. Others require you to open an individual account (i.e., CompuServe).

Accessing Internet services from the HP Palmtop

All of the important Internet services described above can be accessed from the HP Palmtop.

1. Accessing e-mail from the Palmtop --

UQWK and Qua!-LX (QUALX13.ZIP)

 The Palmtop's built-in cc:Mail has little practical value for most Palmtop users since it requires a dial-up cc:Mail post office. However, H. Shrikumar of the University of Massachusetts has written a program called Qua!-LX that lets you make use of the cc:Mail program on the Palmtop to access the Unix Mail system. It requires that you are able to run a program called UQWK on the host system and that you have a shell account. Either the user or the independent service provider must install it on the host system. Then the user can access it.

The way it works is that you use UQWK on the host Unix system to format the mail messages for your Palmtop. Then you use Kermit, Zmodem or another terminal emulator to download them to your Palmtop. Finally, you run Qua!-LX, which in turn will convert the UQWK files into a format that can be used by the cc:Mail program. Qua!-LX will also convert cc:Mail messages into UQWK format for uploading to the Unix host.

Qua-LX! is a freeware program that can be found in the following location:




As described above, you cannot access the Internet with the built-in cc:Mail program. However, a California company called palmtop.com has overcome that obstacle. What they do is to provide their customers with a cc:Mail post office, which functions as a relay to Internet mail. palmtop.com can only be accessed through a telephone number in California, USA. The dialing and login sequence is set up in cc:Mail.

Internet Suites

A suite is a single program that combines a group of different applications. A common example is Microsoft Works, a suite that combines a word processor, a spreadsheet, a database, etc. A number of Internet suites are available that let you access e-mail and the other important Internet services from the HP Palmtop.

2. Accessing the World Wide Web from the HP Palmtop

On the World Wide Web documents are written in Hypertext Markup Language (HTML). You can download those documents to the host system and then download them to your Palmtop using WWWmail (see below). Then you can view them on your Palmtop using an HTML viewer.

HTML Viewer (HV)

Andreas Garzotto has written a program that will let you read HTML documents on the Palmtop. It will not access the World Wide Web itself, but once you've downloaded the HTML document to your Palmtop, can read them on the Palmtop with this program.




HP Handhelds 100/200LX HV.ZIP


 This DOS-based Web browser was written by Garrett Arch Blythe for the University of Kansas and designed to provide support for as many DOS users as possible. Its modest system requirements allows for its usage on the HP Palmtop.

DosLynx allows access to the following type of Uniform Resource Locators, including: file, ftp, gopher, http, news and wais. To use DosLynx on the Palmtop you need a SLIP or PPP connection. For PPP connections, DosLynx only works with EtherPPP.




Internet New Users / CIS Dial PPP PCs / DOSLYNX.ZIP


For those with access to e-mail, but no WWW access, it is still possible to download information from the World Wide Web. The way it works is that you send an e-mail message to a special WWWMAIL account requesting the WWW pages you desire. The downside of this approach is that you still need a way to find out what it is you want and where it is on the Web. Sometimes that information is furnished at the end of an article, or in a note someone sends you.

Below are some e-mail addresses you can use to request Web pages:

agora@dna.affrc.go.jp (Japan)

agora@kamakura.mss.co.jp (Japan)

agora@info.lanic.utexas.edu (USA)

agora@mx.nsu.nsk.su (Russia ONLY)

agora@www.undp.org (Restricted to developing countries)

You send mail to a specific e-mail address (the subject is ignored). For example, to request WWW pages from Shier Systems, Inc., you would send:


send http://www.shier.com/

 source http://www.shier.com/

 deep http://www.shier.com/

The first lines gives you a help file. The second line gives you a text version of the HTML document. The third line gives you the HTML code itself (which can be viewed from an HTML reader). The fourth line gives you a text file of the home page and all pages it references.

3. Accessing Newsgroups from the HP Palmtop


(See UQWK and Qua!-LX above) -- This program can also be used to read News offline, but because cc:Mail slows down when you have many messages in the inbox, I do not recommend using Qua!-LX for this purpose.


Tiny News Reader and Palmtop News Reader are both offline readers that rely on using the UQWK method described earlier. They are written by Michael J. Leaver. PNR is System Manager compliant, while TNR is designed specifically to run on the HP Palmtop and other old and/or slow systems.


ftp://eddie.mit.com/ pub/hp95x/NEW/pnrv10.zip

ftp://eddie.mit.com/ pub/hp95x/NEW/tnr105.zip

4. Using FTPs with the HP Palmtop

When using a shell account with a service provider, you will have to copy files from the FTP archives in two steps. First you copy the file(s) to your service provider's host computer using the FTP protocol. Then you use the Palmtop's terminal emulator (DataComm or third party software) to download the file to the Palmtop.

5. Accessing Telnet from the HP Palmtop

As mentioned earlier, Telnet lets you connect to another computer on the Internet and run programs on that computer or access its data files. The necessary software is run on your service provider's host and the system you are telnetting to. You are using the Palmtop simply as a terminal (via DataComm or another emulator) to connect up to the service provider's host.

Internet Suites allowing IP connections via the HP Palmtop

A suite is a single program that combines a group of different applications. A number of Internet suites are available that let you access e-mail and the other important Internet services from the HP Palmtop. The following Internet suites work with the HP Palmtop:

Minuet (in INETDOS.EXE)

 The Minnesota INternet User's Essential Tool is a DOS application that combines the following Internet functions into one integrated package: POP mail client, Gopher+ client, Telnet, FPT, NetNews reader and WWW browser.



Net-Tamer (N103-PT.ZIP)

This suite, written by David Colston, is the most popular among Palmtop users. It provides the five internet functions mentioned earlier and works with PPP connections. Unlike DosLynx and MINUET, it does not require additional programs for setting up the connection, since it has built-in support for this. There is a special version available for the Palmtop, which has been optimized for the limited hardware.





Accessing the Internet via the CompuServe Information System

Many Palmtop users are familiar with CompuServe, the home of the HPHAND Forum which supports the HP Palmtops. CompuServe is a commercial network which also offers a gateway to Internet, allowing CompuServe subscribers some access to Internet's resources.

CompuServe is a world-wide network and can be accessed through local phone numbers in a large number of cities around the world. It is thus ideal for very mobile Palmtop users.

Once connected to CompuServe the subscriber will either use a VT emulator or CompuServe's proprietary Host-Micro Interface (HMI) which is supported on different platforms including DOS systems, such as the Palmtop.

CompuServe also offers true Internet connectivity using PPP.

1. Sending and receiving e-mail via the CompuServe/ Internet connection.

acCIS -- The most popular application for accessing CompuServe with the Palmtop is a commercial program called acCIS. acCIS is System Manager compliant and while it is designed for accessing CompuServe internal mail and discussion forums the gateway allows CompuServe subscribers to write and receive Internet mail. acCIS is written by Thomas Rundel and Ernst Abresch.

acCIS is available from Shier Systems in the U.S. and Rundel Datentechnick elsewhere (see product index at the end of this article).

2. Accessing the WWW via the CompuServe/Internet connection

The Web can be accessed with the DosLynx browser or the Internet suites mentioned earlier on this page.

3. Accessing Newsgroups via the CompuServe/Internet connection


CompuServe subscribers that use acCIS, can install the acCIS add-on USENETAC =, which will allow them to read Usenet Newsgroups and CompuServe forums using the same interface.


HP HAND Lib. 12, Usenetac.zip

4. Using FTP via the CompuServe/Internet connection.

To access the FTP archives Palmtop users can use DOSCIM, supplied by CompuServe. The program works on the Palmtop, albeit slowly.

For more information, see CompuServe Information Service in the product index at the end of article.

5. Accessing Telnet via the CompuServe/Internet connection


 This package lets you use CompuServe as Internet Service Provider. It contains MINUET, and the required helper applications EtherPPP and MYIP for setting up the PPP connection. All the needed configuration settings have been made except for Username, Password, and the telephone number. With some small modifications, it is also useful for subscribers to other Internet Service Providers.




Internet New Users Forum Using Web INETDOS.EXE

Internet Helper applications

The following applications may come in handy, when working with information on the Internet.

1. Encoding and Decoding to prevent file corruption and data loss.

Because of the "Lowest Common Denominator" nature of the Internet, sending anything other than pure text messages and files with a limited character set requires some workarounds. In principle, only 7-bit ascii files can be sent using SMTP (Mail) and NNTP (News). Therefore, there is a need to convert files containing special characters and binary files (programs) to the 7-bit format before transmission. This is called encoding. After the transmission of the information, it needs to be converted back to 8-bit files. This is called decoding.

Two similar methods are employed to solve this problem: UU and MIME Encoding.

UU Encoding

Unix-to-Unix encoding is a method of converting files and messages to 7-bit ASCII, that can be sent over the Internet without damage. It requires that the sender uses a program to encode the message or file before sending it and that the receiver decodes the message after receiving it.

Several UU programs are available for the Palmtops and other DOS systems. A suitable small program is Super UUdecoder (SUUD10.ZIP) by Trevor Ryder.


ftp://oak.oakland.edu/ SimTel/msdos/decode/suud.zip


Internet New Users/Using USENET/UUDVD04E.ZIP

MIME Protocol

 Multipurpose Internet Message Encoding is similar to UU Encoding, but a more sophisticated method of encoding messages. Many PC e-mail programs understand the MIME protocol and will automatically decode the files, saving the user from decoding manually.

MPack (MPACK15D.ZIP) is a program that can code and decode files in the MIME format. It will also UU decode and encode.




CIS: Internet New Users Using USENET UUDVD04E.ZIP

2. Data encryption to protect confidential information

If you're paranoid or just plain cautious, you might make everything you send via the Internet less public. To aid you in that desire Phil Zimmerman has developed PGP (Pretty Good Privacy), which is a highly secure public key encryption program. It can be used to encrypt your mail messages, so that only the receiver will be able to read it. It, of course, requires that he or she also uses PGP.

Please be aware that U.S. government export regulations prohibit the export and use of the U.S. version outside of the U.S. (Editor's Note: Because of this, we will not include this program on the HP Palmtop Paper ON DISK.)


ftp://net-dist.mit.edu/pub/PGP (for US use only). ftp://ftp.ifi.uio.no/pgp/pc/msdos (for non-US use)

Connecting the Palmtop to the Internet using PPP

Contact Information for products mentioned in this article

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