Here's the answer straight from the Oracle Utilities guide:
"You can create an Oracle release 7 export file from an Oracle8 database by running Oracle release 7 Export against an Oracle8 server. To do so, however, the user SYS must first run the CATEXP7.SQL script, which creates the export views that make the database look, to Export, like an Oracle release 7 database.
Note: An Oracle8 Export requires that the CATEXP.SQL script is run against the database before performing the Export. CATEXP.SQL is usually run automatically when the user SYS runs CATALOG.SQL to create the necessary views. CATEXP7.SQL, however, is not run automatically and must be executed manually. CATEXP7.SQL and CATEXP.SQL can be run in any order; after one of these scripts has been run, it need not be run again."
So...in order to import the data from 8.0 into 7.3, you must create the export dmp file using the Oracle 7 release of Export. Then when you use the Oracle 7 release of Import it will understand the contents of the dmp file. If you tried to just export from your 8.0 version and directly import that using 7, it would fail.
Hope this helps!
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This was first published in July 2002