Spider (1989)

A game of Spider Solitaire in progress

Next up for 1989 is... another Solitaire variant. This time it is the popular Spider solitaire, a whole 9 years before Microsoft's version. Spider is a popular solitaire variant with a fair amount of strategy, and this is pretty good version of it. Like XSol, dragging and dropping a card has no visual until the mouse button is released, but it also has intelligent card movement for direct clicks. In this case, the game will move the card to a suitable valid destination, prioritising a matched suit. If the card ends up somewhere you didn't want it, you can usually just click it again. In practice, this means the drag-and-drop movement often gets ignored.

Cute as the card art in XSol was, I think this is a much nicer looking game too.

Spider was written for Sun's NeWS interface on OpenWindows in 1989 by Donald R. Woods while he was working at Sun. In 1990 it was then ported to C and X11 by David Lemke. Bruce Martin and Heather Rose then wrote the XView interface.

Prior to this, Don Woods also wrote earlier versions on the Stanford Artificial Intelligence Lab system (SAIL) (I'm assuming this refers to WAITS) and then the Xerox Development Environment (presumably for the Xerox Alto). However, Don Woods is considerably more famous for his expansion and wide release of of Will Crowther's Colossal Cave Adventure.

The following is a fairly poorly played game of Spider. I'm more focused on showing something happen rather than actually winning, so... enjoy.

Spider was part of Debian at one point, and can still be found in the archives. There are some compilation errors on modern machines, but I was able to compile under an older Linux distro. Alternatively, the old AMD64 binary package still worked for me as-is; so that may be a simple option. Despite mentions above, this does not require XView. It actually has three interface options: Athena, XView and raw Xlib. The interface can be selected by editing the Imakefile, though Athena is default already.

More general information on old X games, including build tips can be found in the Old X Games article.

If the above video does not work for you, it is also available on my YouTube channel.


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