A Cursory Timeline of Solitaire History

I’m not a historian, nor am I an academic! This is simply a living document of my learnings about the history of solitaire. This page will be updated over time with more interesting or funny details.


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Before There Was Solitaire

1697 - The first mention of solitaire in print not referring to a card game but in reference to a game of peg solitaire was in the French publication Mercure Galant. Peg solitaire is a puzzle game where you jump pieces over each other on a board to remove them in order to create a new board in various specific final patterns. For its time, this puzzle solitaire was very popular! Its popularity was comparable to Minecraft at its relative height. Some people would play it with very fine game boards, others would play it with sticks in the dirt. If you are interested in learning more about peg solitaire do a search for: An update to the history of peg solitaire by John Beasley.

Solitaire As A Card Game

1700 - Like many traditional games, the actual origin of a solitaire card game is unknown. It would have likely been developed as a game some time in the 1700s of northern Europe. It’s possible that tarot cards were the first cards used to play a game of solitaire.

1783 - The first mention of solitaire as a kind of card game in print was in the German game collection book Das neue Königliche L’Hombre-Spiel. Before this date, mentions of solitaire in print most likely referred to the peg/hole based puzzle game variations.

1800 - In the early 1800s, the game of solitaire arrives in France and begins to become popular. The most popular of the earlier literature on solitaire games is in French, and this is reflected in how some of the terms used in English for various solitaire mechanics are French words - such as tableau or... solitaire!

1814 - Around this time, Napoleon Bonaparte allegedly plays the solitaire card game patience solitaire to dull the boredom of exile 1,200 miles from the nearest landmass off the west coast of Africa in St. Helena.

1874 - Finally the English begin to appreciate solitaire, and various books of solitaire games are published.

1914 - Solitaire reaches the Americas with compendiums of solitaire game books being published. The majority of solitaire literature was published in the 1900s. This period of time was the biggest boom of solitaire as a game.

Solitaire As A Video Game

1987 - The first commercial solitaire game “Solitaire Royale” was published for home computers by Software Resources International. Designed by Brad Fregger and Michael Sandige, programmed by Michael Sandige, and with art by Jody Sather. This version had Pyramid, Golf, Klondike, Canfield, Corners, Calculation, Three Shuffles and a Draw, Reno, Tour (Aunt Anne’s game). This collection also included the “children’s games” Concentration (cards are all face down and you try to flip two at a time to make matches), Pairs (a match2 solitaire game more or less - near in genre to Faerie Solitaire Harvest), and The Wish (another match2 except much more luck based, 32 cards are dealt in 8 stacks of 4 cards each with all but the top cards face down, match cards based on value to remove them, play until all cards are matched or you can no longer make a match… according to the game, if two people take turns making matches and they successfully match all cards then they will be destined to become lovers).

1990 - Hoyle Book of Games produced by Sierra. Included some easy solitaire games and some hard ones. The easy solitaires were Calculation, Strategy, Eagle Wing, Beleaguered Castle, Klondike, Canfield, Golf, Flower Garden, Scorpion, Spiderette, La Belle Lucie, Fortress, Baker’s Dozen, and Bristol. The hard games were Eight Off, Shamrocks, Yukon, Eliminator, Slide, Bowling, Nestor, Aces Up, Gaps, Penguin, Pyramid, Triplets, Poker Square, and Cribbage Square. Sierra was pretty great back in the day, huh? Sierra also made Hoyle: Official Book of Games - Volume 1 in 1989. I once met one of the artists of that game Jerry Moore at a games conference. He was a cool and funny guy who showed how much he cared about the games he worked on! He even put himself and his son as characters in the game along with characters like Graham from King’s Quest. Hoyle: Official Book of Games - Volume 1 had some real soul to it, but the only solitaire in it was Klondike.

1992 - Solitaire for Windows was developed by Software Resources International and published by Interplay Productions. Brad Fregger as designer / producer, Michael Sandige as Designer / Programmer, and Dennis Fregger as the artist. This version included Golf, Spider, Corners, Pyramid, Klondike, Scorpion, Calculation, Forty Thieves, La Nivernaise, Poker Solitaire, 3 Shuffles and a Draw, and The Beleaguered Castle. This title is more polished compared to Solitaire Royale, but has less heart compared to its predecessor!

Also in 1992 came “Solitaire’s Journey” which had 105 different variations of games in it! Soitaire’s Journey had many variations of solitaire from very easy to impossibly hard to pure luck and pure skill required. The game included useful features such as statistics and good in theory but not so good in fun features like quests. The worst part of it was its music.

Beyond here there was somewhat of a boom in commercial digital solitaire games. With every device and console getting some kind of “all in one” solitaire collection for people to get addicted to.

2009 - We release the original Faerie Solitaire classic version! The graphics are a little crude and blurry, but it's still fun!
2019 - We release Faerie Solitaire Remastered for HTML5 as a webgame you can play in your browser!

I’ll update this page with more history over time! Especially as we make it. 😇

P.S. Is a correction required in this text? Tell me in our Discord!

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