Too Good To Miss: Microsoft Solitaire Is 30 Years Old
Written by Kay Ewbank   
Thursday, 31 December 2020

Some of our news items deserve a second chance. Here's one from May that reflects on something that happened in 2020 that wasn't all bad. Microsoft Solitaire turned 30, and Microsoft marked the occasion with a world-record-breaking attempt for the most games played in a single day.

Microsoft estimates that Solitaire is still being played by 35 million people a month, with 100 million games played daily.

Solitaire was first developed as a way of teaching people how to use a mouse, and was bundled with Windows 3.0 back in 1990. It was included in all versions of Windows from then on, but dropped from Windows 8.1. Analysts have suggested this was a factor in the lack of take-up of Windows 8 onwards, and a version of the game was included with Windows 10, with Microsoft admitting the game, along with Hearts, had a devoted following who wanted it back.




May 22 of each calendar year is officially designated as National Solitaire Day, recognizing the day Microsoft first included Microsoft Solitaire in Windows. Solitaire was inducted into The World Video Game Hall of Fame earlier this month, having been distributed on over a billion computers.


Solitaire was originally developed for Microsoft by an intern called Wes Cherry, with the appearance of the deck of cards designed by Susan Kare, who as well as working as a consultant for Microsoft also designed some of the interface and typefaces for the first Apple Macintosh. Wes Cherry was never paid any royalties for Solitaire, and when asked in an interview for BT3A "Are you bitter at not being paid for such a popular and essential utility?" responded

"Yeah, especially since you are all probably paid to play it!"

However, he also gave a number of other jokey answers, and has clarified the situation, saying the code was developed in his own time while he was working as an intern. He'd played a similar solitaire game on the Mac, and recreated that on Windows. A program manager from the Windows team saw it and included it in Windows 3. Cherry said:

"It was made clear that they wouldn't pay me other than supplying me with an IBM XT to fix some bugs during the school year - I was perfectly fine with it and I am to this day."

Cherry originally included a 'boss key' that could hide the game behind some random C code if you saw your boss coming round, but Microsoft made him remove that. 

The Windows 10 version of Solitaire was designed by Microsoft Studios and developed by Arkadium. It either requires a paid subscription or inflicts adverts on the player for other games, some of which are slot machine gambling style.


More Information

Solitaire 30th Anniversary Event on Facebook

Wes Cherry Interview On B3TA

Related Articles

Desktop Games Still Popular

Inside Bill's Brain - A Bill Gates Documentary On Netflix 

Got There - Windows 10 On 1 Billion Devices

Windows XP 10 years on


To be informed about new articles on I Programmer, sign up for our weekly newsletter, subscribe to the RSS feed and follow us on Twitter, Facebook or Linkedin.


Paul Allen's Living Computer Museum Going, Going, Gone

The Seattle-based Living Computer Museum, founded in 2012 by Paul Allen to preserve vintage and heritage computers for posterity has closed and its collection will be sold at auction by Christies in S [ ... ]

The Ongoing State Of JavaScript

The latest State of JavaScript Survey has just been published, bringing us a wealth of details about what parts of the JavaScript ecosystem and used, loved and wanted by developers.

More News

kotlin book



or email your comment to:

Last Updated ( Thursday, 31 December 2020 )