Wednesday, August 19, 2015

More Than Just A Game.

For those of you that have used practically any version of the Microsoft Windows operating system since 1990 (Version 3.0), you're most certainly familiar with the game Solitaire. We've all known it as a simple card game -- shuffle through the deck, create chains and complete the four foundation piles. But... there's something you don't know about Solitaire.

It was never intended for entertainment or fun.

Windows 3.0 included Solitaire as a tool for easing computer users into the new computing paradigm. On through the late 1980's, many computers functioned via command line operating systems, like MS-DOS for example. There were no windows or screens to click, nor a mouse to point at what you wanted to do on the screen. The user would type a command and enter it into the computer, which would then run whatever task or program that was asked of it. It looked much like the image below. I'm fondly reminded of playing the DOS version of Battle Chess. Man, I loved that game!

Old school computing at its finest.
If you don't remember using a command line operating system, then you're young.

As a way of introducing computer operators to the new functionality of a graphical user interface, Solitaire was included as a means of acclimation. That's right folks, there was a time when computers didn't use a mouse. For you youngsters out there, that must seem ridiculous... but it's totally true. Solitaire, which relies solely upon the computer mouse to be played, did just that -- it taught computer users how to use a mouse. With Solitaire as a simple disguise, you would learn how to click, drag and drop, and so forth. It was all quite ingenious really. And to think, that was a meager twenty-five years ago. Operating a computer mouse is instinctive at this point; we all know how to use one!

Just for laughs, here's a game play video of Battle Chess on DOS. Those sure were the days!

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