Curt Johnson

Curt Johnson in 2014

Curt Johnson was the co-author of Windows Minesweeper.

Curt joined Microsoft in 1989 around the same time as Robert Donner1,2. Microsoft had already released Windows 2.0 but was still actively developing OS/2 for IBM and Johnson was hired to maintain a debugger program3. Curt wrote a game that year called "PM Mine" named after his favourite MacIntosh game ("Mine") and the OS/2 windowing system ("Presentation Manager"). The object of his game was to cross a minefield from the bottom left corner to the top right corner using number clues. He told this website, "I wrote PM Mine to learn the graphical environment PM and OS/2" and since Microsoft Paint was black and white "I had to draw color bitmaps and had to write my own bitmap editor."2 The editor and PM Mine were his first two programs3.

He shared the source code and Donner released "PM Mine 2.0" in May 1990 with Johnson credited for "original programming" and Donner for "additional programming"4. Windows 3.0 was released on 22 May 1990 and Donner re-wrote the game as "Win Mine" crediting Johnson for "original programming" and himself for the "Windows 3.0 version"5. The game became so popular at work Bill Gates became addicted6 and it was included in the Windows Entertainment Pack released in October 1990.

Other Windows 3.0 games written by Johnson for fun at Microsoft include7:

  • Tic Tac Toe - Written with Donner.
  • Bricks - A "Breakout" clone.
  • Slots - A slot machine game.
  • Puzzle - A sliding puzzle game.
  • Bridge It - Unfinished two-player game.

Curtis J. Johnson (1961-2014) grew up in Minnesota where his family owned the Navarre True Value Hardware store8. He attended Orono High School9 and later worked at the local Ford factory in Twin Cities creating production quality graphs3. He moved to Seattle to join Microsoft in 1989 and was a senior software developer with over 15 years of experience in C++, C# and .NET specialising in application development10. At Microsoft he met Bill Gates once but was too shy to introduce himself11 and in later life he joined six Toastmasters clubs to practice public speaking12. Curt often worked as a freelancer on projects such as the Android app "Real Timer" (used to track speech time at Toastmasters competitions) released by Real Fix Inc in 201313,14. He kept a limited social media profile13,15 although he did run a small online store selling mindfulness products where he described himself as a "Software Engineer and Business Owner" interested in "Motorcycling" and "Green Energy"16,17. Sadly, he died of a stroke aged 53 in December 20147.

LinkedIn profile picture
Curt at a Toastmasters event in October 2014 (Flickr)
Original Facebook profile picture
Final Facebook profile picture
Curt in 2010 discussing meeting Bill Gates
Curt interviewed by TicTalkers in 2014
Curt interviewed by TicTalkers in 2014
Obituary December 2014
PM Mine 2.0 Beginner level
Win Mine 2.6
Tic Tac Toe (1990)
Bridge It (1990)
Bricks (1990)
Puzzle (1990)
Slots (1990)
Real Timer (2013)
Quilt piece in memoriam by Curt Johnson's mother

1 Email from Robert Donner 2001-02-21 with the author of this article.
2 Email from Curt Johnson in 2013-10-02 with the author of this article.
3 - History of Minesweeper that includes an interview with Johnson on 2014-07-21.
4 Help file from PM Mine 2.0 released May 1990.
5 Win Mine - Help file from Win Mine 2.6 released June 1990.
6 Washington Post - Interview with people at Microsoft in 1994.
7 The ISA Bus - Games by Curt Johnson for Windows 3.0.
8 Star Tribune - Obituary for Dale Johnson.
9 Star Tribune - Obituary for Curtis Johnson.
10 LinkedIn - Profile page was deleted in 2015.
11 Toastmasters Magazine - Curt was interviewed in the March 2010 (p23) newsletter.
12 TicTalkers Newsletter - Curt was interviewed in the July 2014 newsletter about joining six clubs in six years.
13 Pinterest - Curt linked to the app in the Google Play Store but it no longer exists.
14 Google Play Store - Archived copy of
15 - Personal online store.
16 - Personal online store.
17 Facebook - Curt created a page but did not post anything.

Article created 10 September 2021 by Damien Moore and updated 21 September 2021.