Nowadays many people are worried about the amount of hours they lose in social networks when they should be working. It is the so-called procrastination, dealing with irrelevant things and leaving the truly important tasks for later. But in reality these distractions in front of the PC started in the past, before Zuckerberg launched Facebook and the kitten videos dominated Instagram. It started with a very popular game in its day: Windows Solitaire. Considered the most used Microsoft application in the world by the company itself, this innocent entertainment has a fascinating history full of surprises.
28 years ago, in Redmond (Washington) ..
We all have a vague image of Solitaire as a card game that came with an old version of Windows. Yes, the computer-based Solitaire was introduced in Windows 3.0 in the year 1990. This version of Windows was not the first one that included a graphical interface, but it did introduce many new features and was the first that reached great popularity worldwide. It is necessary to clarify before, yes, that in reality solitaire is something that can be played without the company of other players, and that generally challenges the player to finish with all the letters organized in one way or another. But to note, Free Cell is the first Solitaire variant to be transformed into a computer game. In the late 1960s, a 10-year-old boy named Paul Alfille created this game, continued with a new version in 1979 at the University of Illinois.
Origin of Solitaire
From the description above we know that Microsoft is one of the creators of computer-based Solitaire and the one that brings Solitaire into one of the most popular games ever. But do not assume that Alfille is the original creator of this game of patience. According to history, a Frenchman did it 200 years ago in his country. Napoleon is even rumored to have played this game during his exile in St. Louis. Helena. Many historians predict that Napoleon and other tyrants liked the card game of patience because this type of game taught them about patience to gain big wins.
Variants of the Solitaire Games
In fact, along with the passage of time, there are more than 50 kinds of solitaire games! We have Accordion, Acme, Athena, Bowling, British Square, German Patience, Klondike, Pyramid, Wasp, Yukon, Zodiac and many more. Only some of them are developed by gaming companies and only a few of them really rule the world of online card games.
As said above, there are many variants of the game but the one chosen by Microsoft was the Klondike. Basically, Klondike is all about patience. This game is very popular in the two countries of North America, USA and Canada. Discovered in the late 1800s in Canada, the game got its name from a gold mining area in Canada. Strong rumors suggest that Klondike was designed by prospectors in the region. You can play Klondike and many other Solitaire games at Pasianssi.com (the site is presented in Finnish).
Lonely Windows Solitaire, over 20 years ago
At that time, in my tender adolescence, having a free game included in the operating system seemed fantastic to me. But the truth is that the inclusion of Solitaire (and by extension, the Minesweeper, in Windows 3.1) was due to a very specific purpose: to teach users to manage their own operating system with ease.
Now it’s almost laughable, because we accept things like clicking, right clicking or dragging and dropping things on the screen as something natural. But in 1990 most people were not familiar with these operations, because very few had had contact with a graphical interface and a mouse. It is true that this type of interfaces already existed since the early 80s, with the launch of the first Mac models (based in turn on the research of the Xerox PARC laboratory). But due to the high price of those computers, they still did not have a lot of market share.
Microsoft included Solitaire in Windows to teach people how to use the mouse
For that reason, at Microsoft they thought that Solitaire would be a fun way to get users accustomed to the drag and drop movement (because just doing that is how you put the cards in their corresponding decks), while the Minesweeper allowed to fine-tune the accuracy with the mouse and get used to using the right and left clicks with ease. Microsoft put the Solitaire on Windows to reassure people who might feel intimidated by the operating system. It gave them something familiar, something funny, what to do with the computer, while teaching them how to use the mouse.
It is a kind of open-source game
Since the Solitaire was then more than just a pastime, who would be responsible for that responsibility? Microsoft’s programmers with knowledge and experience in games and didactic subjects? Well, no. The reality is that the author of the computer-based Solitaire was a Microsoft fellow, who also, was never paid for it, nor received royalties of any kind. It is such an open-source game, making it interesting for most gamers. In conclusion, this is one of the most popular traditional card games that are transformed into a computer game that is capable of making people addicted.