Forgotten Hero

The man who wrote Windows Solitaire was an intern who never made royalties from it

Despite it being one of the most popular games on Microsoft’s software.

SINCE IT WAS first included with Windows 3.0 back in 1990, Solitaire has been an integral part of Microsoft’s software.

Many were introduced to it through Windows 95 and would have spent much of their time playing it as it was easy to understand. Its inclusion was even a way for people to learn the basic actions needed to use Windows without realising it (remember this was more than 25 years ago when PCs weren’t commonplace).

What you might not know is the game was designed by a then 25-year-old intern named Wes Cherry. He originally wrote it for Windows 2.1 back in 1988 before a program manager on the Windows team decided to include it with Windows 3.0.

Despite it being featured on every version of Windows (with the exception of 8), Cherry didn’t receive any royalties from it, a story that pops up regularly.

After a Reddit thread resurrected the piece of trivia, Cherry joined in after receiving a Facebook message about it – his cider production website went down after those on the thread started visiting it – and decided to tell the story again.

“I wrote it for Windows 2.1 in my own time while an intern at Microsoft during the summer of 1988,” explained Cherry. “I had played a similar solitaire game on the Mac instead of studying for finals at college and wanted a version for myself on Windows”.

At the time there was an internal “company within a company” called Bogus software. It was really just a server where bunch of guys having fun hacking Windows to learn about the API tossed their games.
A program manager on the Windows team saw it and decided to include it in Windows 3.0. 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.

solitaire-gif musicianhayd / YouTube musicianhayd / YouTube / YouTube

He did make a version of Pipe Dream which was included in one of the Windows Entertainment packs, and was paid ” a few thousand bucks in stock” for it.

Today, the only programming he does is for embedded controllers for brewing cider, although he is reminded about a joke he made that if everyone who played the game sent him one cent, he would be rich.

A few people have paid me “a penny” as a joke. I’d get them in the mail, or in person if someone introduced me as the author of Solitaire and the obligatory no royalties conversation came up. I think I’m up to about eight cents now.

Read: There’s a secret reason why Solitaire was included with Windows 25 years ago >

Read: VR is arriving soon but only 1% of PCs will be able to run it >

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