The history of a group of card games known as Solitaire dates back to the mid-18th century. Internationally, the game of solitaire has many names. It is often called “Patience,” especially in Britain. In France, the game is sometimes called “Success” (reussite). Other languages, such as Danish, Norwegian and Polish often use the word “Kabal” or “Kabala” (secret knowledge) to describe these games. This goes back to the early origins of solitaire where the outcome of a game may have been though to be a type of fortune telling.
Solitaire makes it earliest appearance in writing in about 1783 where it is described in a German book of games. It was described as a competitive card game where players would take turns or play with separate decks of cards. The idea of playing solitaire completely by one’s self probably came out of people enjoying practicing for competitive games.
It is widely believed, but not true, that Napoleon played solitaire during his exile. Many solitaire games bare his name or the name of the island he was exiled to. However, Napoleon enjoyed the more popular games of the day such as Whist. But by the mid-19th century, solitaire was popular in French society.
It was also around that time that solitaire took hold in English society. Prince Albert was known to play, and books of rules began appearing in English in the late 19th century.
It wasn’t until the second half of the 20th century that most modern forms of patience games began to take shape. Hundreds of books describing hundreds of different solitaire games have been published.
In the 1980s, personal computers made solitaire more popular than ever. Since players don’t need to shuffle and deal the cards for each and every hand, game play has become more enjoyable. In addition, the ability to start a new game with only the click of a mouse has brought forward the addictive quality of these games.
There are more than 100 distinctly individual solitaire games, with that number reaching more than 1,000 when you consider minor variations.