Microsoft’s Solitaire, which taught the world to use a mouse and waste unprecedented amounts of time, is turning 30 today. The game first came along with Windows 3.0, launched in 1990 with great fanfare, and is still played by 35 million people per month in 200 markets and 65 languages.
Windows 3.0 was the first popular version of Windows, having sold 10 million copies. At the time, many folks were used to the text-based DOS on PCs and had never used a mouse. Solitaire was perhaps the first “gamification” app, teaching folks how to drag and drop in a colorful and and highly addictive way. The game (programmed by Microsoft intern Wes Cherry) even had a “boss mode” that let you pop up a fake spreadsheet if your boss came along. That never made the final Windows 3.0 release, however.
Solitaire is not only a great mindless pastime, but it used to be a way to get a rough check on the speed of your PC. It launched shortly after Intel introduced the 80286 processor, which bounced the cards at a realistic speed. Microsoft apparently locked the animation to your PC’s performance, though, so by the time the Pentium processor came along, it ran at a zany high speed.
Solitaire was stripped from Windows in version 8, but Microsoft brought it back for Windows 10 in 2015. The Microsoft Solitaire Collection now has five different modes, along with daily challenges, Xbox Live integration and even competitions. To celebrate the anniversary, Microsoft is inviting players to join its event “with our goal to reach the most games of Microsoft Solitaire completed in one day.”