If you have an old Windows 3.1 PC lying around, you might be surprised to learn that you can now chat with a GPT-powered AI on it. WinGPT is a new app that brings a very basic version of OpenAI’s ChatGPT responses to the ancient operating system.
WinGPT is created by the same anonymous developer who made Windle, a Wordle clone for Windows 3.1. The developer says they didn’t want their Gateway 4DX2-66 from 1993 to be left out of the AI revolution, so they built an AI assistant for Windows 3.1, based on the OpenAI API¹.
WinGPT is written in C using Microsoft’s standard Windows API and connects to OpenAI’s API server using TLS 1.3, so there’s no need for a separate modern PC¹². The app supports any 16- or 32-bit version of Windows 3.1 or newer but won’t run natively on 64-bit versions of Windows².
The main challenge of running ChatGPT on old hardware is memory rather than processing power. Windows 3.1 generally won’t boot with more than 256MB, and a period-appropriate 386 or 486 PC would be more likely to use between 4MB and 8MB². To save on memory, WinGPT asks ChatGPT to be as brief as possible in its responses, and it doesn’t send in the text of previous queries when asking new queries. This means ChatGPT can’t use the context of previous chats to inform its responses².
Another problem with getting any Internet-connected software running on old versions of Windows in 2023 is that most of the modern web is encrypted, and older operating systems don’t support modern SSL/TLS protocols. Many retro projects rely on some kind of proxy to get around this, using a modern system to talk to the internet and decrypt data, and passing that decrypted data to the old PC on your local network².
To get WinGPT working without a proxy, the developer has also developed a 16-bit port of the WolfSSL library to support TLS 1.2 and 1.3 connections on the ancient operating system. This port is not secure, not reliable, and there is no warranty, and it should be used for entertainment purposes only. The port doesn’t verify security certificates and uses a fake random number generator to function².
WinGPT is an impressive feat of retro computing that shows how far AI technology has come in recent years. If you still have a Windows 3.1 machine gathering dust somewhere, you can download WinGPT from dialup.net and chat with an AI from the past¹²³⁴.
(1) WinGPT is a new ChatGPT app for your ancient Windows 3.1 PC. https://www.theverge.com/2023/6/26/23773756/wingpt-chat-gpt-app-windows-3-1.
(2) Person who made the Windows 3.1 port of - Ars Technica. https://arstechnica.com/gadgets/2023/06/wingpt-is-a-windows-3-1-ai-chatbot-for-your-old-ibm-compatible-desktop/.
(3) WinGPT: la app para tener ChatGPT en el añejo Windows 3.1. https://es.digitaltrends.com/computadoras/wingpt-chatgpt-windows-31/.
(4) WinGPT | Alguém criou uma versão do ChatGPT para Windows 3.1 - Terra. https://www.terra.com.br/byte/wingpt-alguem-criou-uma-versao-do-chatgpt-para-windows-31,9ddf1eb523dded463cf2c922b694e344vcuojviq.html.