How an Intern created Microsoft Solitaire and what we can Learn from Him


If you are as old as I am, then you have played Microsoft Solitaire. The PC game was in vogue from 1990 and some people still enjoy it to this day. It is believed that Solitaire is the most played PC game ever, it even got New York state employee fired when his boss found him playing it during office hours.

Wes Cherry, the guy who created the game while interning at Microsoft didn’t think for once that his game could have such a tremendous impact on the world.

How it all Started

Wes wrote the game for Windows 2.1 during the summer of 1988. “I had played a similar solitaire game on the Mac instead of studying for finals at college…”, Wes wrote on a TIL Reddit thread, “and wanted a version for myself on windows”, he added.

He then invested his own time in writing the game.

At the time, Microsoft had an internal company called “Bogus Software” which according to Wes was “really just a server where a bunch of guys having fun hacking Windows to learn about the API tossed their game.”

It’s on this server that a program manager on the windows team saw it and decided to include it in Windows 3.0.

No Pay for the Game

Wes says it was made clear to him that he wouldn’t be compensated for the game, and he was fine with it. In turn he was supplied with an IBM TX “to fix some bugs during the school year…”

Of course he did not know his little game would go on to have such a sweeping impact on anyone who had access to a PC back then, neither did the guys at Microsoft.

Some Lessons from Wes Cherry

It’s Never about the Money

He was willing to give away the game which had drained his sweat glands for free. For him, it was the creation; he had a heart of the creator.

I wish all those who turn down internship opportunities because they are not paying will learn something about Wes.

The Boldness

Wes Cherry was just a college student. That, though, didn’t stop him from utilizing the opportunity of Bogus Software. It’s on this server that his game was picked up.

Go ahead and create something, it may not be perfect but you will surely learn a ton of stuff along the way.

Are you crazy?

The Solitaire author decided to write solitaire instead of studying for his finals in college. I’ll ask again: Are you crazy enough to grab the bull by the horns, defy the odds, and do something spectacular? Are you willing to wake up at 4 a.m. every morning to develop that craft you are passionate about?

Move on…or other People will Walk on You

I can’t tell you how many people have I have seen camp at someone’s office or slash down a wetland because they fought in a war. What these guys want is a bag of cash for fighting. Wes didn’t receive any!

Photo: Ela Lamblin/Facebook
Photo: Ela Lamblin/Facebook

In fact Wes Cherry went on to create another game called Pipe Dream which was included in Microsoft’s Entertainment Pack and was compensated with “a few thousand bucks in stock” for the game. As I write this, Wes and his wife Laura own and run Dragon’s Head Cider, an apple cider producer on Vashon Island, Seattle.

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