ChatGPT on a 1984 PC – it works!

An incredible technological feat has been achieved! A user has managed to run ChatGPT on a PC dating back to 1984. This achievement underlines the fact that AI remains an easy-to-use and compatible tool on a variety of media, even the oldest.

The PC uses an 8-bit processor and has just 128 kilobytes of memory. This configuration is considerably less powerful than that of modern computers in terms of computation and storage. However, thanks to optimization and compression techniques, the computer scientist was able to install the natural language processing model on the machine.

ChatGPT on a 1984 PC: a retrocomputing enthusiast’s challenge

Yeo Kheng Meng, an enthusiast of retro programming and vintage computers, recently developed a DOS client for ChatGPT. OpenAI developed this chatbot to provide virtual assistance and enhance the user experience by offering precise answers.

The PC Vieillot user also posted his theory on YouTube last Sunday. He presented his conversation with the AI model using a 1984 IBM 5155 laptop.

For those interested, the code created by Yeo Kheng Meng is available at GitHub. Although DOS was not originally designed for use on the Internet, the programmer saw this challenge as an opportunity to develop his skills. In a blog post dedicated to the project, he explained that programming for this platform was particularly difficult. He pointed to the lack of native network capabilities and the systems’ inferior processing performance as additional challenges.

To create the program, Yeo Kheng Meng took advantage of the Open Watcom C/C++ compiler. Although DOS has no network code, developers have been working for some time to find solutions to fill this gap. They have developed their own strategies to meet this need. For this reason, Yeo Kheng Meng employed MTCP, a scalable network stack specifically developed for DOS machines.

ChatGPT on DOS: how to get around the difficulties of cryptography

The use of cryptography posed difficulties for the management of ChatGPT. Indeed, the lack of a modern library on DOS posed a problem despite the APIs designed according to the HTTPS protocol. Yeo Kheng Meng had already encountered this situation when he tried to install Slack on Windows 3.1. To solve the problem, he used a similar trick which consists in creating an http-to-https proxy in Golang. It acts as a transparent intermediary, redirecting HTTP requests in HTTPS to the OpenAI servers without altering the results. Although this method is not universally appreciated, it is the fastest way to run ChatGPT under DOS. To test this trick, Yeo Kheng Meng used the IBM 5155.

IBM sold this in 1984, and it was one of the first portable computers. Referring to this computer, ChatGPT noted that its compact size and its integrated monochrome monitor have contributed to its popularity with mobile professionals. The program thus highlighted the features that have made this device such a success.