Mahjong is a game for 4 players originally created in China. There are various myths about its invention – suggesting it dates back to the time of Confucius, but the first written account outside of China was in 1895 by an American anthropologist. This was followed by other accounts of the game and resulted in mahjong sets being imported into the United States in 1920 where they were originally retailed by Abercrombie & Fitch. In the same year Joseph Park Babcock published the “Red Book” or “Rules of Mah-Jongg”. Mahjong quickly became so popular that songwriters even wrote songs about the game!
Mahjong uses a set of 144 tiles to play with, and in its original 4-player form was also played competitively and for money – similar to poker. The game has remained popular across the Far East to this day.
Mahjong Solitaire is a simpler, single player game, also known as Shanghai Solitaire, and allows players to enjoy a simple, relaxing game on their own, just using the Mahjong tile set. Mahjong Solitaire began life as a computer game. It’s invention is credited to Brodie Lockard back in 1981, when he created it for the PLATO computer system. It was named Mah-Jongg, and Lockard claimed it was based on an old Chinese game called “The Turtle”. Two years later Control Data Corporation released a paid-for version of the game online, but it wasn’t until Activision release ‘Shanghai’ in 1986 that the game began to gather a following. Developed, again, by Brodie Lockard, ‘Shanghai’ was bundled with the Apple Macintosh and Apple IIgs, and around 10 million copies were sold across various platforms. Activision trademarked the name ‘Shanghai’. A version of the game, created by David Norris, was named ‘Taipei’ and went on to be included in Microsoft’s Entertainment Pack for Windows 3.x in 1990 and premium editions of Windows Vista now include a version of this game called ‘Mahjong Titans’.