Classic Solitaire is arguably the most beloved card game worldwide. Celebrated for its blend of simple rules and complex strategy, it demands skill, strategic planning, and stoic patience, appealing to players of all ages. Each new game is a fresh test of perseverance and tactical thinking, making Solitaire a timeless classic that entertains and engages with every shuffle and placement. 

Solitaire's history spans centuries, evolving from a fortune-telling game for the aristocracy to a digital phenomenon. Join us as we explore its fascinating journey through the ages — from who invented the Solitaire card game to how it got its name and much more! 

Fun facts about solitaire history


When Was Solitaire Invented? 

Everyone knows this popular card game has been around for a long time, but just how old is Solitaire? It’s hard to answer decisively, but Solitaire history buffs trace its origin to the late 18th century when it likely emerged in the Baltic region of Europe. It was initially perceived as a form of fortune-telling, aligning closely with the rise of cartomancy, the practice of divining the future with cards.  

One of the earliest references to the origin of Solitaire is actually about the game of Patience, a name now considered interchangeable with Solitaire. The game Patience-Spiel was mentioned in a German book in 1793, although despite what we know about Solitaire, it was represented as a two-player contest. There were even multiplayer forms of the game that involved communal betting, which added a layer of excitement and stakes. However, as people spent time practicing for the gambling halls, it slowly became a solitary endeavor. 

The next mention of Patience traces back to a publication in Russia in 1826, followed by others in Germany, France, and eventually English-language variations in the 1860s. Even Charles Dickens represented the character, Abel Magwitch, as taking part in “a complicated kind of patience with ragged cards” in his book, Great Expectations, published in 1861.  

While these references provide some clarity around the inquiry, “How long has solitaire been around?” Many questions remain about its origin and how it evolved to where it is today, so let’s continue diving into Solitaire's history. 


Who Invented Solitaire? 

It’s difficult to pinpoint who invented Solitaire, as it likely developed from various card games and variations popular across Europe during the 18th century. The frequent use of French terms like "tableau" in Solitaire highlights the game's connections to French culture. Many early documents about the game also originate from France, suggesting a strong French influence in its development and naming.  

Conversely, many books about patience games were published in Sweden during the first half of the 19th century. This indicates a potential Swedish influence, reflecting the game's widespread appeal and adaptability across Europe. Given this complex origin, it is more accurate to view Solitaire not as the invention of a single individual but as a product of cultural evolution.  


Why is Solitaire Called Solitaire? 

The game's name is derived from the French word "solitaire," which means solitary or alone. This naming is apt, as the essence of Solitaire lies in its single-player format, distinguishing it from the social card games that dominated before its invention. The alternative name, "Patience," highlights the virtue most required by its players, emphasizing the thoughtful, deliberate pace at which the game unfolds. 


Exploring the History of Solitaire: Evolution Through the Ages 

Solitaire's transformation from the aristocratic salons of 18th-century Europe to the digital displays of 21st-century devices is a captivating history of adaptation, innovation, and cultural integration. The game's origins are rooted in the legend of being created for French King Louis XIV with bespoke "Versailles Playing Cards," reflecting its initial association with royalty. This period of card game development saw significant evolution, as noted in the intricate designs of playing cards, which became more accessible through advances in printing technology. 

By the early 19th century, Solitaire had spread across Europe, with the first comprehensive rules for the game being published in France. The game evolved and diversified as it entered England, where it was embraced in various forms and complexities, as noted in numerous Victorian publications on card games. The publication of multiple rule books, notably Lady Adelaide Cadogan's "Illustrated Games of Patience," further popularized Solitaire in English society with its detailed descriptions and strategies.  

This period coincided with the Industrial Revolution and the advent of machinery, which freed up time for laborers. These societal changes led individuals to seek solitary entertainment, and Solitaire's capacity to be played alone made it a perfect companion for the newfound leisure time and rising affluence of the Industrial Age. 

In America, the version of Solitaire known as Klondike emerged during the Klondike Gold Rush, capturing the adventurous spirit for a quick fortune that characterized the era. Originally known as Canfield, after its inventor, Richard Albert Canfield, a renowned gambler of his time, this variant was one of many during the period. Solitaire's popularity increased through adaptations and new variations as skilled players sought to maintain the game's appeal with innovative game mechanics. 

Solitaire history is even made popular by famous historical figures, like Queen Victoria’s husband, highlighting its role beyond entertainment, serving as a tool for introspection and contemplation. 

The digital revolution of the late 20th century marked another pivotal evolution for Solitaire. As it transitioned onto computer screens, the game gained new dimensions — visually more engaging and complex, thanks to technological innovations allowing dynamic and interactive gameplay. This digital leap not only renewed interest among traditional players but also attracted a new generation, broadening Solitaire's appeal and cementing its status as a timeless classic. 

This rich history of Solitaire, from its rumored royal origins to its digitization in modern times, exemplifies a game that has adeptly transformed and adapted to meet the changing needs and tastes of its players across centuries. The game's ability to evolve while maintaining its core principles is a testament to its enduring appeal, making it as relevant today as it was in the drawing rooms of the past. 


Who Created Solitaire Online? 

The digital version of Solitaire that most people are familiar with today was initially developed by Microsoft and included in its Windows 3.0 release in 1990. This inclusion was strategic, aimed to help users become comfortable with the graphical user interfaces of the new operating system and introduce them to mouse navigation skills, such as the drag-and-drop technique essential for moving cards in Solitaire. Wes Cherry, an intern at Microsoft during the summer of 1988, developed the game, and Macintosh pioneer Susan Kare designed the card deck. 

In October 2012, alongside the release of the Windows 8 operating system, Microsoft introduced a new version known as the Microsoft Solitaire Collection. This version, designed by Microsoft Studios with visual design leadership from William Bredbeck and development by Arkadium, introduced many new features that reflect the ongoing evolution of Microsoft's operating systems. 


Play Online Games with Arkadium 

Today, Solitaire continues to captivate players around the globe, and thanks to online platforms, it is now more accessible than ever. At Arkadium, we offer a wide range of Solitaire games you can play online, blending classic gameplay with new challenges. Whether you're a seasoned player or new to the game, we ensure that your next game of Solitaire is only a click away. 

Explore our extensive library of free online games to find your favorite version of Solitaire. Join the millions who enjoy sorting, stacking, and winning! Play Solitaire online today and discover why it remains one of the world’s most beloved games.