Solitaire: A Look Back at the Original Single-player Game

Solitaire Hero image

Solitaire has been the computer game for longer than some of us have been gaming and is one of the most iconic Windows features ever. To celebrate its 25th anniversary as your favorite game on Windows (or second-favorite – shout-out to Mahjong!), we’re taking a look back at where Solitaire came from, and why it’s here to stay.

As a card game, Solitaire dates back to the late 1700s, originating in France before spreading worldwide. Even Napoleon Bonaparte was a reported fan. Hey, when you’re exiled to an island 200 years before Candy Crush Saga gets invented, what else are you going to play?

For many people, Solitaire was their introduction to computer games. Since Windows 3.0 came out in 1990, Solitaire has been a featured program on every version of Windows. The program was originally designed as a way to ease people into the then-unfamiliar operating system. Solitaire got new computer users acquainted with the mouse and drag-and-drop controls. There’s one humorous anecdote about a politician who was caught playing Solitaire during a debate claimed that she was doing some mouse dexterity homework – which is one of the greatest excuses ever given.

Since its inception, up through the Windows Vista version, Solitaire used the same card designs, made by computer industry legend Susan Kare. There were multiple options for players to choose from, and everyone had their favorite (the correct answer, of course, being the beach scene with its rapscallion sun – and we will fight you about it).

Over the last two decades, Solitaire – in its Klondike, Free Cell, and Spider variations – has remained the king of an ever-growing gaming hill. Despite the massive library of games available for every age and taste, Solitaire is the most-played computer games ever, to this day. Whether it’s the simplicity, or the ability to play it anywhere and everywhere without an Internet connection, Solitaire is where it’s at.

Even Microsoft’s own employees got really into it when they recently ran a global internal tournament to determine the best Solitaire player at Microsoft (you can play the same challenges the Microsoft employees played in the tournament by playing the 25th Anniversary Tournament Collection in Microsoft Solitaire’s Star Club). In 2016, there will be a public global tournament, so be sure to check out the Microsoft Solitaire Collection Facebook page for more information.

At this point, Solitaire’s functionality as a “mouse dexterity” tool is no longer necessary, but we could never imagine Windows without it. So, here’s to Solitaire – the one game that was always on the computers in the school library. Here’s to the hours we spent playing it on long flights. And here’s to that thrill you get when you see the cascading cards tumble across your screen.

Solitaire is free and ships worldwide with every copy of Windows 10.