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About Freecell and NetCELL

(For a full list of Frequently Asked Questions, try here.

The original Freecell game was created by Paul Alfille in the mid 1970's. It was written in TUTOR, a programming language specifically designed for the University of Illinois' Plato computer environment. The original Freecell was very rich, featuring variant game parameters, weekly tournaments, and all manner of statistics related to scores. There were large numbers of people who played, and the list of streaks was truly impressive. See link at right for a phone interview with Paul

jim and denny
Jim Horne and Denny Cronin
Freecell's worldwide popularity, however, is due to the version that Jim Horne wrote as a pet project at Microsoft. It found its way into Windows and the rest shall we say is history.

NetCELL, the online version available here, was written by me, Denny Cronin. I've played Freecell since the early '80s where I encountered Paul's original Freecell game on the Plato system at the University of Illinois. I always admired the game, and missed playing once I no longer had access to a Plato terminal. So I implemented a character-based version of the game for Unix systems sometime in the mid '80s and made this version available in a limited distribution as freeware.

The current NetCELL version running on your web browser is all new using Javascript to talk to a back end server. All moves are stored and score keeping is done back at the server system. The server code is a descendent of my old Unix version and is written in C/C++. It talks via HTTP to large numbers of simultaneous Javascript clients across the net. Thanks to Tom Murphy for some details of the original Unix implementation which are still used here.

You can find out more about Freecell and Freecell history on the Frequently Asked Questions page.

Freecell Links

Links for more info about Freecell...
  • freecell.org Freecell.org
    Lots more excellent Freecell links
  • Michael Keller's Freecell FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions). Contains pointers to solutions for all Microsoft Freecell games except the well-known unsolvable 11982.
  • The Tallahassee Democrat did some excellent pieces on Freecell which I hope they'll keep online, first and foremost because Paul Alfille, the original creator of Freecell, got some long overdue mention. But you'll also find our humble site mentioned a couple of times replete with quotes from my goofy 12 Step Program stuff.

    It's cheap. It's legal. It's not even fattening. So how bad can an addiction to the computer card game called FreeCell be? - By Kathleen Laufenberg DEMOCRAT STAFF WRITER

    FreeCell's creator just wanted a little fun, and now he's done - By Kathleen Laufenberg DEMOCRAT STAFF WRITER

    Oops. It appears these articles have been placed in their archives. I am trying to track down Kathleen Laufenberg to see if she can help...
  • Salon Magazine on NetCELL
    "NetCELL means never having to play with yourself again." Note: amazingly enough this link still works!
  • Unsolvable Instance
  • Wikipedia article on Freecell

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