Software developers makes ChatGPT client run on vintage IBM PC

The vintage PC released back in 1984

A hobbyist software developer and retro computing enthusiast has accomplished an impressive feat by bridging the gap between ChatGPT and the vintage IBM PC-XT computer, which released all the way back in 1984.

For reference, the PC in question is ancient compared to modern computers. IBM’s PC-XT runs on a 4.77 MHz Intel 8088 CPU and has 640KB of RAM. The average processor today runs from 3.50 to 4.2 GHz with 6-8GB of RAM.

Further, it’s worth noting that not everyone uses ChatGPT through a web browser like most users. Some access the tool through a client like a ChatGPT-powered smartwatch, and some have even been able to make it run with Microsoft’s Clippy. However, in this case, software engineer Yeo Kheng Meng was able to get the ChatGPT client up and running on the ancient IBM computer, a genuinely impressive feat.

Meng used the Open Watcom C/C++ compiler to span the 40-year gap between the PC-XT and ChatGPT, and tested the DOS application on a virtual machine on a modern PC. With Open Watcom C/C++ compiler, Meng was able to run modern platforms like the 64-bit Windows 11.

One of Meng’s biggest hurdles was networking and connecting the client to the ChatGPT service. They found a solution in MTCP, which facilitated the connection to ChatGPT’s Chat Completion API. Other obstacles that had to be overcome included JSON parsing, changing the ChatGPT output from HTTPS to HTTP, and working with the lack of multi-threading in DOS, as detailed by Meng in a blog post. 

As technology continues to advance at a rapid pace, it is fascinating to see enthusiasts like Meng take up projects that preserve the technology of the past.

In other ChatGPT-related news, a recent bug caused ChatGPT search titles to be visible to other users.

Image credit: Yeo Kheng Meng

Source: Yeo Kheng Meng Via: TomsHardware