Microsoft Solitaire made its appearance back in 1990 with the release of Windows 3.0, and it has become one the most installed and played pieces of software in the world. It has been used on millions of Windows machines to whittle away the time and has been the bane of employers everywhere, but the man who wrote the program never made any money from it.
Before Microsoft released the Windows 3.0 version, they realized people weren’t familiar with using a computer graphical interface. The use of a mouse and dragging and dropping items across the screen were new. They wanted something that could train people how to use the new interface, the mouse, and the new way to move things on the screen.
Wes Cherry was an intern at Microsoft in 1988 and wanted to create a Windows version of a solitaire game he had played on the Apple Macintosh for his own personal use. He then wrote a version to be used on Windows 2.1. At the time, Microsoft had a company within the company called Bogus software where programmers would hack Windows to learn the application program interface (API), or how software components should interact. Cherry put his game on the server of Bogus software, and a program manager noticed it. The manager decided to include it in the upcoming release of Windows 3.0.
Cherry was informed that he would receive nothing for the game other than an IBM XT computer, mainly so he could fix bugs on the program during his school year. In an interview, he said he was fine with the arrangement then as he is today. Cherry worked for a time as an employee at Microsoft following his internship and worked on the Excel team, Microsoft’s spreadsheet program. Today he owns an apple orchard and produces apple cider called Dragons Head Cider on Vashon Island west of Seattle, Washington.
Sources: Business Insider, The Verge, b3TA.com