A system is provided for adapting one of a number of different types of instruments to a common protocol. Each instrument has a serial input-output (I/O) port, a control for the serial I/O port, and an input for operating power to the instrument. The system includes a different type of housing for each different type of instrument. Each different type of housing includes openings through which selected controls and displays of a respective one of the instruments are accessible. Each different type of housing includes couplers for coupling to a respective type of instrument's serial I/O port, and to a respective type of instrument's operating power input, and a data processing module including a first multiple conductor. Each type of housing includes a complementary second multiple conductor connector for connecting to the first multiple conductor connector when a respective housing is mated to the data processing module.