A bored, 25-year old intern in Microsoft – named Wes Cherry wrote Windows Solitaire (Klondike) in his spare time and never got royalty for it!
The story in his own words:
I wrote it for Windows 2.1 in my own time while an intern at Microsoft during the summer of 1988. I had played a similar solitaire game on the Mac instead of studying for finals at college and wanted a version for myself on Windows.
At the time there was an internal “company within a company” called Bogus software. It was really just a server where bunch of guys having fun hacking Windows to learn about the API tossed their games.
A program manager on the Windows team saw it and decided to include it in Windows 3.0. It was made clear that they wouldn’t pay me other than supplying me with an IBM XT to fix some bugs during the school year — I was perfectly fine with it and I am to this day.
A few people have paid me “a penny” as a joke. I’d get them in the mail, or in person if someone introduced me as the author of Solitaire and the obligatory no royalties conversation came up. I think I’m up to about 8 cents now.
Microsoft thought that Solitaire will train people how to use mouse, a newly introduced input device back then.
Today he is growing apples (fruit!) on an island west of Seattle.
In 2004, Microsoft’s Chris Sells described Solitaire as the most-used Windows application in the world surpassing MS-Office itself!