Generative AI like ChatGPT seems to be getting more advanced by the day. It was only a matter of time before someone decided to take the technology in the other direction. That’s happened thanks to a Singapore-based developer called Yeo Kheng Meng, who has convinced 2023’s most advanced AI to work in an MS-DOS environment.
A little context for the younglings who might not be aware of it — once upon a time, computers operated in a very different environment. Known as the Disk Operating System (DOS), computer users were expected to remember, understand, and correctly implement complicated command-line strings in order to get anything down. Then Microsoft Windows came along and introduced the world to the user interface. But yes, DOS was the computing equivalent of an old NES game — you really had to put in the effort.
ChatGPT is now history
Yeo Kheng Meng’s program has allowed ChatGPT to run convincingly on an old IBM computer from 1981. The monochrome PC features a mighty 4.77MHz processor and we don’t even want to speculate on how many KB of RAM (up to 640KB, as it happens) is tucked away inside there. But users can use the machine to talk to the world’s hottest technological property.
This is possible thanks to a newly-launched API that lets developers integrate the generative AI with a custom application. Meng, who has previously coded a Slack app for Windows 3.1, wrote just such an application. It wasn’t easy. ChatGPT is incredibly smart and the IBM Portable Personal Computer 5155 Meng used is very, very slow. Also, there’s a bit of a language barrier.
This was solved by using a selection of different programs gradually making their way toward mutual understanding. Meng explains the process in a blog post but he had to find a way to convince a Windows 11 compiler to chat to DOS. In order to get the AI system functional, he had to create an HTTP to HTTPS proxy for DOS (since the secure standard was never added to the DOS environment). It’s… quite an involved operation.
Still, it’s all functional and you can try it out for yourself if you happen to have some ancient hardware lying around. doschgpt is available on GitHub.