The History of Spider

Where did it originate?

Spider is among solitaire games, which are also called patience games in Europe. The game’s roots are not fully known: Some scientists assume France as its place of origin. Others locate it in Germany or Scandinavia.

The earliest written proof for patience games is provided by a book published in 1788 in Germany. The book is a collection of rules for different games, and its title translates to The new Royal l’Hombre. This refers to a popular, most likely Spanish card game at the time, which strongly influenced the history of card games in Europe. This book dedicates a chapter titled Patience to explaining a single-player card game. For a detailed explanation of our modern Spider Solitaire, have a look at our manual.

The term patience came from French to the English language, describing endurance and longanimity. The French word solitaire was also incorporated into English as solitary meaning alone. As a game title, Solitaire refers to the element of being the only player. These terms fittingly define the course of the game: You do not need fellow players to play the game. But you do need a lot of patience. The challenge lies in the mental exercise of resolving the constellation of cards: You compete with yourself.

Going Solo

It seems like patience games have not always been single-player games. The book mentioned above describes Patience as a game for two people, with only one person actively playing. The person not playing could bet for or against the player. After one round, they would switch. It was not passed down, when or why this element disappeared, and Solitaire became a true single-player game. It seems likely that players practicing alone to improve their skills caused this change.

The Rise

There are plenty of unverified tales about famous Solitaire players. Among others, Napoleon allegedly played the game intensively in his exile in Saint Helena. This can neither be proven nor does it seem very likely. Napoleon would have probably opted for a more contemporary game of the early eighteen hundreds. It is true, however, that by the middle of the nineteenth century, Solitaire gained momentum in France and England. One hundred years later, our modern solitaire games started emerging. Many books describing even more variations were written in that period.

Booming in the 1980s

In the 1980s, this extraordinary game began its impressive triumph. This is directly linked to the development of the first personal computers (PCs). To explain the connection between these two phenomenons, we open up the scope a little bit: Some card games come with a complex preparation phase with specific rules for shuffling and dealing the cards. While playing, especially in Solitaire, revealing and moving many cards follows rules as well. These tasks can negatively impact the fun factor. This is where the PC can put its strong suit to work! Quickly and accurately, it takes care of these monotonous tasks. Suddenly, the player only needed to do press a button and watch the cards automatically move across the screen. What was left was the addictive essence of the joy of playing.

How Solitaire Went Global With Microsoft

There already were aesthetic, digital realizations of Solitaire for the C64 or Amiga 500. But worldwide success and popularity came with the development of Microsoft’s operating system. Windows Solitaire is a distinct brand today, and many Windows users probably think that the game’s idea and development trace back to Microsoft.

When working on Windows 3.0, Microsoft wanted to add a couple of games to their basic version. Alongside the popular Minesweeper, they chose Solitaire, which an intern was working on at the time. There was a crucial advantage to Solitaire in Windows: Users could playfully learn to use the mouse and the concept of drag and drop. Nowadays, it might sound strange that someone did not know how to use a mouse. But back in 1990, when Windows 3.0 was released, it was not yet common for all PCs to have a mouse.

Since then, until 2013 with Windows 8.1, Microsoft always included Solitaire with the operating system, which explains the game’s high profile. Microsoft Windows Solitaire was installed on more than an estimated billion of computers. As recently as May 2019, it finally made it to the World Video Game Hall of Fame. We think rightfully so!

Spider Solitaire Emerges

Playing Spider Solitaire is a privilege of relatively recent times. Its first account dates back to 1917, which makes it distinctly younger than other Solitaire variations. Microsoft contributed to this specific variety’s success as well. It was first brought to attention for a broad audience when it was published within the enhancement Microsoft Plus! 98 for Windows 98. Until then, Windows had offered Klondike and FreeCell Solitaire. With Spider, there were now three Solitaire variations available for Windows.

Spider as a Multiplayer

Enough of the past – let us take a look at the present and the future! At the Spider Palace, we want to make Spider Solitaire a group experience without changing its distinct character: We preserve challenging yourself, playing calmly, and the fun of pondering. If you wish, you can play while socializing with players across the globe in our Spider community. At a table of the Palace, everybody has to solve the same situation: At the beginning of a round, all players are dealt the same cards in the same way. Each player resolves their game on their own. The actions each player takes are scored – positively or negatively. Consequently, the way the players solve the game becomes comparable. The player gaining the most points wins!  To preserve the game’s original atmosphere, efficiency, instead of speed, is key to collecting points.

See for yourself

Be part of the ongoing history of Solitaire games and give our innovative realization of Spider Solitaire a try. We hope you will enjoy our game and become part of the Spider community!