The story behind Windows Solitaire

The story behind Windows Solitaire

By Alex J. Coyne © 2018 Gifts for Card Players

Even if you don’t consider yourself a regular card player, it’s likely that you will have spent some time clicking your way through a game or two of Solitaire that comes bundled with a standard installation of Windows ever since 3.0. But have you ever wondered just why it was Solitaire and who came up with it? Great Bridge Links and Alex J. Coyne took a closer look at the origins of Windows Solitaire.

Microsoft Solitaire: Then Versus Now

Microsoft Solitaire was first introduced in 1990 with the release of Windows 3.0. The whole idea behind it was to “soothe people intimidated by the operating system” – an actual quote from Microsoft at the time – and it gave people a chance to get used to the look and feel of Windows and test any issues with the mouse.

A later version of Solitaire was released with Windows 8 in 2012, called Microsoft Solitaire Collection instead – and was developed by Arkadium.

Solitaire has often been blamed with a loss in productivity by people who should have been working – notably, in 2006 a New York City employee was fired by Mayor Michael Bloomberg when he walked through the office and noticed that the employee was playing a game of Solitaire. (

Card Deck Design

The original card decks were designed by Susan Kare, a graphic designer who is credited with creating much of the graphical icon interface behind Mac machines, including the Smiling Macintosh icon users will know pretty well. Oh, and she was also responsible for creating icons like the Paint Bucket and many of Facebook’s “gift” icons in more recent times. (Now you know!)

The card decks only changed again with the updated version of Solitaire bundled with the release of Windows XP. And, of course, many newer features have been introduced with the expansion of Solitaire over time.

If you’d like the feel of the original decks in your actual card games, then Solitaire 3.0 decks are being made for real – here’s one produced by AreaWare. (

If you’re looking to see more work by artist and graphic designer Susan Kare, take a look at Susan Kare Prints (, Susan Kare’s official website ( and Susan Kare’s official Twitter account at the handle @SusanKare

Software Design

Credit for the software design behind Solitaire goes to Wes Cherry, who was working as a Microsoft intern at the time when he put the code together in 1989.

( In his own words, “I wrote it for Windows 2.1 in my own time while an intern at Microsoft during the summer of 1988. I had played a similar solitaire game on the Mac instead of studying for finals at college and wanted a version for myself on Windows…”

Eventually, someone spotted the game and included it in the installation of Windows. He wasn’t paid for this specific contribution apart from getting an IBM XT in return for his effort (anyone remember those?!), and he also mentions that he was fine with it then and still remains now – but that people still have a habit of sending him pennies in the mail.

What’s Wes Cherry doing today? He doesn’t program as much nowadays: Instead, he and his wife Laura own a cidery in Vashon Island and produce a little brew called Dragon’s Head Cider. From Cider to cards? Not bad, not bad at all!

You can find the official website for Dragon’s Head Cider here. (


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