Talk:Windows Minesweeper

From MinesweeperWiki
Jump to navigationJump to search Almost all the old windows games here!!! In!!!

History of Minesweeper


Unique ideas are rare, and computer games are no exception. Minesweeper owes its existence to earlier games.

Relentless Logic

Relentless Logic is the earliest known ancestor of minesweeper. The game was written for DOS and is a MZ EXE program, so it could not have been written before the release of MS-DOS 2.0 in March 1983. The earliest surviving copy was uploaded to a Bulletin Board System on 9 Nov 1985 but was written earlier a, but the exact BBS is unclear as the game only exists thanks to unauthorised collections. It is unclear which BBS it was uploaded to, as it only exists thanks to unauthorisedHowever, the game had already been cloned by 27 Oct 1985 as Landmine

Relentless Logic is a MZ EXE file, so it could not have been written before MS-DOS 2.0 was released in March 1983. The earliest surviving copy was uploaded to a Bulletin Board System on 9 Nov 1985. It is unclear which BBS it was originally uploaded to, as files were often downloaded and compiled into collections without permission. However, it is due to this that a copies exist. The earliest known clone was Landmine by Larry Ludwick, which appears to have been written in 1986.

Another clone was Relentless Logic, written in DOS at least by November 1985. This game was not officially released but was passed between friends at work and through Bulletin Board Systems in the USA. It also featured a rectangular grid of squares (9x15) and warned you of adjacent mines. Its new features included crossing from left to right, counting mines located diagonally, adding a move counter and a timer. Instead of having nine levels it allowed you to change the number of mines from 10 to 40, and you were upgraded from a worm to a Marine.

Relentless Logic, the DOS ancestor of Minesweeper

  • Ref1:

<keywords content="relentless logic, rlogic, minesweeper, conway, hong, smith" />

Screenshot of Relentless Logic
Author: Conway, Hong and Smith (USA)
Initial release: 09 November 1985 (?)
Latest release: Original Version
OS: DOS, Windows
Language(s): English
Genre: Early Minesweeper Games
Status: Abandonware
Website: No Homepage
Download: RLogic.exe

The earliest Relentless Logic is an early computer game often credited1 as the inspiration for Windows Minesweeper. The object of the game is to move your Marine from the top left corner of the screen to the Command Center at the lower right corner, without stepping on a mine:

You are a private in the U.S. Marine Corps. You have been selected by the Base Commander to perform a noble task. The future of the United States rests in your hands.

Communications are down. You have been instructed to deliver an important message to the U.S. Command Center. Between you and the Center is a field teeming with hidden land mines.

You have two tools at your disposal. One is a mine detector. It will tell you how many mines are hidden in squares surrounding you. You also have one of the most important attributes known to man ... RELENTLESS LOGIC. With this gift and the clues given to you by the mine detector, you should be able to accomplish the mission without blowing yourself to bits ... maybe. Anyways you’re our only hope.

Relentless Logic is a DOS program where the goal is to cross a field with hidden mines.

Relentless Logic is a MZ EXE file, so it could not have been written before MS-DOS 2.0 was released in March 1983. The earliest surviving copy was uploaded to a Bulletin Board System on 9 Nov 1985. It is unclear which BBS it was originally uploaded to, as files were often downloaded and compiled into collections without permission. However, it is due to this that a copies exist. The earliest known clone was Landmine by Larry Ludwick, which appears to have been written in 1986.

The game is monochrome and takes place on a 15x9 grid of squares. At the start of each game you have the option of placing from 10 to 40 mines on the field. The only input allowed is your keyboard, and directions are given using the number pad. After each move the game tells you how many mines touch your current location, and you use this information to navigate safely. There are no hints or numbers on the grid. You may only move to adjacent squares and it is not possible to mark mine locations. The game keeps track of how many moves you make, and after each move it updates the timer. The goal is to safely reach the command center in the fewest moves and least amount of time.

When you lose, the field explodes and you are told “You stepped on a mine ... and you let America down.” This explosion only occurs the first time you lose after the program is opened. If you win, the game states “You took X moves to save America...Thanks” and it gives you a skill rating. There is no highscore list, so you must remember your best scores. Music plays at the start and end of each game.


Landmine is the earliest known clone of Relentless Logic and was written in 1985. Larry Ludwick (FL, USA) recalls, "It was originally done as an exercise to learn Microsoft BASIC compiler". He adds that, "I saw a copy of Relentless Logic somewhere online (can't remember exactly, but I'm sure it was a BBS archive or something similar) and thought I could improve upon it and so I started work. I was already fairly proficient in BASIC, but the compiler thingy was new to me. Most games at the time were text based so the simple graphics were pretty cool. I think I 'distributed' it by uploading to a couple of BBS sites. Apparently it was popular enough that people spread it around - the 80's version of going viral. I do have a copy of it somewhere and I actually play it from time to time."

Some research helps pin a date on this game. Landmine is a MZ type EXE file so was created after March 1983, and as the game was in CGA and not EGA colour he could not have used the Microsoft BASIC Compiler but instead the QuickBASIC compiler which was not released until 18 Aug 1985. Of the several copies online the earliest two surviving copies were uploaded on 16 Nov 1985 and 27 Oct 1985 which means the game was written between 18 Aug and 27 Oct 1985. This in turn means Relentless Logic was written before 27 Oct 1985 although the earliest surviving copy is 9 Nov 1985.


Relentless Logic is written by ‘Conway, Hong and Smith’, although one early clone mysteriously thanks ‘Conway, Wayne and Chung’2. The earliest proven date for its existence is 9th November 1985, when a user uploaded RLogic.exe to the ‘Fargo IBM PC Users Group’ bulletin board system in North Dakota. This BBS was hosted by Loren Jones, who relocated the system to Chicago in 1987. In 1989 he started collecting files on his system into a CD which became known as ‘RBBS-in-a-Box’. Several collections were made, and the final release on 11th June 1991 contained more than 15000 games and programs. As of writing, version 3.1 is still available for download on two sites dedicated to preserving BBS history. The game gives no information about its origins other than the name of its authors.

Eyewitness Accounts

According to Tom Kelsh3, who began working at IBM in 1985, RLogic was popular among the programmers there for a short time. Tom Anderson4 witnessed colleagues at Fluke Manufacturing playing RLogic at work on computers running DOS in 1987.


  • XMines (1987) - Used a mouse to move and mark squares as safe or as mines. Introduced numbers.
  • Landmine (1988) - Clone that made it possible to win each game.
  • Kaboooom (1989) - Numbers, autosolver help, ability to mark mines.
  • Dynamine (1995) - Used shading to hint at mine locations
  • PureLogic (1999) - Ported to the TI-92 calculator, allows flags and custom grids.


You can watch a YouTube video of myself playing Relentless Logic on Windows XP. The sound does not work on some computers.



1. Wikipedia and various websites.
2. Game instructions for Landmine (1988), written by Larry Ludwick.
3. Personal correspondence with author. Tom Kelsh is on the Minesweeper World Ranking.
4. Discussion page for ‘Minesweeper Game’ at Wikipedia.


Tom Anderson version -

Tom Anderson joined Fluke Manufacturing in 1979 as a Project Manager in their Everett, WA factory. During 1986 a chess game for Sun workstations became popular around the office, inspiring Tom to write his own version. On 8 Jan 1987 he posted the source code to Usenet (, "a network chess game I wrote a few months ago during a chess fad at work". The game was called nchess.

According to Tom, "I noticed some coworkers playing rlogic on a DOS machine in a neighboring cubicle; thought it looked like fun, so I wrote a version for Sun workstations". He did not actually play the game,

8 jan 1987 usenet ›

This is a five-part distribution of "nchess", a network chess game I wrote a few months ago during a chess fad at work. It runs on Sun Microsystems' workstations, and would be quite difficult to port to other machines due to heavy reliance on Sun's window libraries. It bears no relation to the existing chesstool program; i.e., it was written from scratch without any knowledge of how chesstool is implemented (since we don't have the source). Since the manual page is included in the following shell archives, no more need be said. Please mail any comments, bugs, etc. directly to me, since I very rarely read net news.

Any commercial use of this software is strictly prohibited, INCLUDING usage as a demo vehicle for Sun workstations.


Tom Anderson, (206) 356-5895 John Fluke Mfg. Co., Inc., P.O. Box C9090 M/S 245F, Everett, Wa. 98206 { hplsla, microsoft, uw-beaver, sun }!fluke!toma

It is unclear when Tom posted his game to Usenet?? OR is it??

The original version: what is known:

The goal of Mines is to navigate from the top left corner to the bottom right corner. The default game is a 16x16 grid with 20 hidden mines. A safe path is not guaranteed, but the four cells in the top left corner are always empty. You can change the density by entering a number in the top "Level" subwindow and hitting 'Return' on the keyboard to start a new game. The middle "Clairvoyance" subwindow tells you how many mines are touching your current position, and the bottom subwindow is the minefield.

Sun mice have three buttons. The left button is used to move to different cells, but you can only move to a new cell if it is next to one you have already opened. The middle button marks a square as 'dangerous' and prevents you opening it. The right button marks a square as 'safe'. The game instructions says this "has no effect on your ability to move on the square, but eliminates the need to keep a seperate piece of paper around or to have an excessively hight IQ." When you step on a mine a message says "You just exploded" and on reaching the bottom corner safely "You made it".

Mines - Dalio

Brian Dalio joined Silicon Design Labs in November 1986 having recently completed a PhD in Computer Science. The company was based in Liberty Corner, NJ. According to Brian, "The mines program was available on the Sun machines we had at work. It was an interesting game, but it clearly needed some help. Since the source was right there, I just made some 'improvements' that made it more popular around the office." In fact, one of the vice presidents complained that the game was "causing slippage in the product release schedule." Another employee modified Brian's program

completed a PhD in Computer Science and joined Silicon Design Labs a few months later in Nov 1986.

Mentor Graphics in Nov 1986

Silicon Design Labs in Liberty Corner , NJ

I don't have a copy of the code handy, but I could look around and see if I can find it. It's highly unlikely that it's archived anywhere. Hey, at the time, who knew it would be historically significant?

  • The mines program was available on the Sun machines we had at work. It was an interesting game, but it clearly needed some help. Since the source was right there, I just made some 'improvements' that made it more popular around the office. (Too popular, actually. One of the vice presidents later bemoaned the mines game as causing slippage in the product release schedule. It was that addictive. Ha!)
  • There was another version around the office that gave one the probability that a particular square was a mine. It was built off of the version I made (before Jim's version). I'll see if I can dig up some info on that version.
  • I'm not really a computer games person, so there aren't very many (like, almost none :) games that I ever played. The mines game is one that I really liked simply because it was purely logical. The probabily version was created to help decide what to do when the next move had to be guessed due to the counts resulting in an ambiguous state (on the theory that if you're going to guess, at least try to guess _smart_).
  • I didn't upload or otherwise share it outside my office. However, we were a bicoastal company and that's how it 'leaked' to the other side (and to Jim). More specifically, I worked for a company called Silicon Design Labs (SDL) in Liberty Corner, NH. (_Not_ 'Corners'! :) We merged with a company called Silicon Compilers in San Jose, CA, (in early 1987) to become Silicon Compiler Systems. Jim worked for the California side. (SCS was later bought by MGC.)
  • I started at SDL in November 1986 and I first encountered the game there. Previously I had been at Brown University and I did all of my work there on Symbolics LispMachines. There was no mines game on the LispMachines. (In fact, I don't think that there were any games as such on those machines?)
  • I don't recall any person in the NJ office mentioning that they had sent the code anywhere. However, I had moved from NJ to Oregon in mid-1990, so someone could have done so afterwards (or they just did it without telling me). It's more likely that Jim (or someone in the California office) 'released' the code.
  • Until I saw minesweeper on a PC many, many years later, I was unaware of how popular the game was. I didn't know that there was a version on Macs until you told me. The only time in my life I have used a Mac was in 1986 when I made some pictures for my dissertation. We didn't have Macs in the NJ office at that time; we were an entirely SunOS (Unix) shop. When I started, it was primarily Sun-3 hardware

The probability version was done by another engineer in the NJ office. He was already at SDL when I was hired. I'll try to track him down and see what he remembers and if he has any materials

Mines - McBeath

Jim McBeath

"I can't say I remember a lot of the details. From my notes on my web page, I posted it to Usenet comp.sources.x volume 9 in September 1990, with a patch posted to volume 10 in December 1990. Brian Dalio was a co-worker of mine, so I probably got access to it over our internal company network, but I don't remember.

I don't think I had played or seen the mines game before then, but I am not and have never been much of a gamer; for me the challenge of doing the programming was much more interesting than playing the game."


Mines was the first public program written by Daniel Griscom and was inspired by playing the SunTools game Mines.1. Version 1.01 was released 12 Aug 1988 for the Macintosh while he was working as an Exhibits Engineer at 'The Computer Museum' in Boston. The game was written in Mach2 FORTH language and the sourcecode was uploaded to the Mach2 RoundTable (forum) on GEnie (an online community).

Winning a game of Mines on the Mini vMac emulator

The game features a 16x16 grid and the player begins a new game by choosing between 0 and 160 mines. You start inside an opening at the top left corner and use the mouse to 'walk' to the bottom right corner. The four squares in the top left corner and in the bottom right corner are always safe, and the game makes sure a safe path exists. Sometimes the automatic opening accidentally wins the game for you!

The original SunTools game used a 3 button mouse but the Macintosh came with a 1 button mouse. Daniel solved this problem by inventing 'shift-clicking': You open a square by clicking the mouse button, mark mines as dangerous by pressing [Shift] when you click, and mark squares safe by pressing [Shift] while clicking twice. Like later versions of the SunTools game, open squares that touch mines will continue to show the number of mines when you move to other squares. There is no timer or score list, instead a message congratulates you and states the number of mines you survived. If you lose, there is an explosion and the computer screen flashes.

When contacted by this site in August 2012, Daniel responded "Oh. My. God. Boy, has it been a long time since I wrote Mines. Unfortunately, I no longer have a copy, even of the source." He also stated that the Windows Minesweeper rule to clear all squares was "A much better game design". A single copy of the game did however exist online at, and on request by this site its users created a virtual disk so the game can now by played on the 'Mini vMac' emulator.

Mines comes with a short strategy guide. Confirmation of its place in the Minesweeper lineage is on the 'Credits' screen, where Daniel writes that inspiration for the game came "From the SunTools program by Tom Anderson".

  • Ref 1: Email from game author, 5 Aug 2012

PM Mine

Curt Johnson joined Microsoft in 1989, during a period where Microsoft was working on the OS/2 operating system for IBM. Johnson had played Mine and decided to port it to OS/2 and called the new game PM Mine. This was a common practice among programmers at the time, since the graphical user interface used by OS/2 was called Presentation Manager. In the game credits Curt notes, "PM Mine is based on the Mac version by Daniel Griscom".

Losing a game of PM Mine on OS/2

The only existing copy of the game is Version 2.00 from 23 May 1990 and credited to Bogus Software. Bogus Software was an imaginary company used by employees at Microsoft to release games. It was invented by Hans Spiller and Dave Norris for one of their games, and according to Spiller they "invited a number of other people who had written recreational programs to play along". The Help file for PM Mine 2.00 says original programming was by Curt Johnson with additional programming by Rob Donner. It also thanks David Shulman for 'testing and design', Larry Houch for being the 'visual consultant' and Doug Kluder for 'inspiration'.

PM Mine Donner states Curt wrote a program for crossing a grid.

, although the unfinished Help file is dated 5 May 1990.

Microsoft was also working on early versions of Windows, but it was not until Windows 3.0 was released on 22 May 1990 that Microsoft decided to focus on

the operating system Microsoft helped create for IBM before deciding to focus on Windows 3.0 in 1990.

but credited to Bogus Software, a wise-cracking group of programmers at Microsoft.

Win Mine

Robert Donner joined Microsoft in May 1989 to work on a new Windows program called Word. Originally from Winnipeg in Canada, he moved to Redmond and spent several months fixing bugs and adding new features to WinWord 1.0. According to Donner, "After a few months I decided to write a simple game, from scratch, mainly to have some fun and learn more about programming for Windows".

Curt Johnson had joined Microsoft

Robert Donner and Curt Johnson were both hired by Microsoft in 1989. Curt had written a program for OS/2 where the object was to find a path across a minefield from one corner to another. Robert wanted to write a game for Windows as a programming exercise, and Curt let him have the source code to use as a starting point. He wrote the main application over a weekend and kept the original number and mine graphics. Curt was involved with "the inital random ideas we had for the game." The new game was simply called 'Mine'.

After watching a friend test the program, Donner changed the goal of the game to opening all safe squares. The original version had hidden coins that allowed you to survive stepping on a mine. Instead of the time counter there was a coin counter. A later release replaced the mouse cursor with a foot, which turned into a bloody stump when a mine was hit. According to Donner, "I did the graphics for this, so it didn't look very good".

Donner added the famous XYZZY cheat "so another friend of mine could impress people with his psychic abilities". This cheat was a magic word in Colossal Cave Adventure, one of the first games he had played on a computer. Chording was added after watching a much faster friend clicking through the game. In keeping with the foot cursor, the original Help file called this a 'Big Step'. As the game involved mines and was written for Windows, he named the executable file Winmine.exe, in compliance with the 8.3 FAT file system used at the time. He added the Smiley Face, and the "idea for the sunglasses was grabbed from one of the card decks in Solitaire."

Sometime after the release of Windows 3.0 on 22 May 1990, Microsoft decided to release a collection of games for their new platform. Employees were asked to submit games, and Donner submitted Winmine and TicTactics. Both were accepted and released as part of the Windows Entertainment Pack on 8 Oct 1990, retailing in the USA for $39.95. According to Donner, "The Minesweeper title was selected after Microsoft legal did a name search and gave us a few options." The foot cursor was removed and the game was cleaned up by someone in the graphics department. Donner notes that "Microsoft never really 'acquired' a copyright for Minesweeper. I worked for the company, wrote the game by myself, on my own time, on their equipment, and distributed it free to friends within the company. Eventually a Product Manager decided to put together an entertainment package and released it with several other games. For the first WEP release, most of the games were already complete. For WEP 2, they put out a more official call for submissions".

One of these versions passed amongst friends was Mine 2.9 written by 9 Jul 1990. It featured bombs instead of mines and a 24x24 Expert grid. The credits thank "CurtJ, LarryH, RobD" and amusingly claims copyright by "Duff Software". Webster defines duff as "of poor quality".

The WEP edition of the game listed the version as Minesweeper 3.0 to coincide with the current version of Windows. Robert Donner and Curt Johnson are listed as authors with the copyright belonging to Microsoft. The game became famous when Microsoft included it alongside Solitaire in the release of Windows 3.1 on 6 Apr 1992.

Ref: Several emails have been exchanged between AMS and Robert Donner


David Norris joined Microsoft in July 1984 and was a founding member of Bogus Software, the label under which PM Mine was released. On 22 May 1990 Microsoft started selling Windows 3.0 and many employees ported their old games or wrote new ones - Norris wrote a new game called Mines. The only surviving version is Mines 1.0 with a Help file dated 12 June 1990. (He also released Taipei 3.10 by 17 May 1990 and WinChess on 11 Oct 1990, both of which were released along with minesweeper as part of the Windows Entertainment Pack).

Mines was actually written a few weeks earlier, as Robert Donner mentions it in the Win Mine 2.6 Help file dated 6 June 1990. This states, "Win Mine bears little resemblance to the other windows Mine game" and that "Other than the similarity in names, and the general rectangular grid concept, they are not much alike." Playing the game proves this claim, as Mines is essentially Relentless Logic with some new features not found in minesweeper.

A lost Expert game of Mines 1.0 by Dave Norris. The suggested path is white, water is blue, mines are red and correctly marked mines have a black 'X'.

In Mines the player starts at the top left corner and needs to reach the bottom right corner. You move using the arrow keys and when you open a square the green circle cursor shows you the number of touching mines. If you find a mine you mark it with a red 'X' using the left mouse button. This prevents you moving onto the square and reminds you of mine locations, because unlike Mines (Griscom) or PM Mine (Johnson) a number is only shown in your current location.

To make the game more difficult there are blue squares representing water. These squares do not have mines and you must go around them. Another feature of the game is 'Autoplay' which solves the surrounding area each time it is selected from the menu. The 'Show Path' option displays the best winning route but automatically ends the game. At the end of a game the best path is shown in white, mines are red, correctly marked mines are a black 'X' and incorrectly marked mines are a red 'X'. There are four difficulty levels (Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced, Expert) and each level has more water and mines. There is no highscore list or timer.

When contacted on 27 May 2012 Norris replied, "It was so long ago, I'm not sure why I wrote it. I believe it had something to do with wanting to write a path-finding algorithm." He added, "I dug up the old source code, it appears I wanted a version where the goal was not to clear the minefield but to find a path from the start to the destination in the shortest time."

Although Mines was written at the same time that PM Mine and Win Mine were being written at Microsoft, it did not contribute to the modern game. The history of Mines does however provide historical context for minesweeper. It is interesting to note that PM Mine was released under the Bogus Software label invented by Norris and that all three programmers (Norris, Johnson, Donner) had games released by Microsoft as part of WEP.

Win Mine 2.6

There were two versions of Win Mine 2.6 and both were finished on 7 June 1990. The only difference is the size of the foot cursor, which explodes when you step on a mine. In an email to this site in 2001, Donner wrote, "I seem to have lost the version with a foot cursor to stomp on the squares. It changed into a bloody stump with dripping blood when you stepped on a mine. For some reason, they didn't want to ship with that feature..."

Both versions were lost until 2011 when Theodor Lauppert (Austria) found them in an online archive of abandoned games. He posted screenshots in his blog on 5 July and later that month kindly agreed to provide the original game files to this site. Not only had Theodor found copies of the 2.6 versions and a 2.8 version, he had found a copy of PM Mine 2.00!

You can lose on the first click. You need to click About, then Preferences before you can change level. Help file says Minesweeper Help If you chord (Shift+LeftClick) one a 2 but have only done 1 flag, you lose. (Is this related to the Safe Step feature of 2.9) No Highscores or menu, even though Help file says click on the Game menu to choose Best Times. Must flag all mines to win.

Both 2.6 version do not have a Help file, both dated 7 June 1990.

Lost Intermediate game, showing the exploding Big Foot version of Win Mine 2.6.

Win Mine 2.8

A page from the Help file (edited to show pop-up descriptions)

Version 2.8 introduced a 'Safe Step' feature in Preferences, so you don't lose when you chord but but enough mines are flagged. You still need to mark all the mines.

The main gem is the help file, which is extremely sarcastic and witty. Curt Johnson is credited as original programmer,

Bogus Software

Dave Norris and Hans Spiller joined Microsoft in the early 1980's. After programming some games for fun they decided they needed a copyright notice, and settled on the name Bogus Software. According to Hans, "We invited a number of other people who had written recreational programs to play along."1

Duff Software

PM Mines

Relentless Logic in turn inspired various clones. XMines was written in November 1987 for the SunTools operating system by Tom Anderson (USA). He introduced a Mouse and used the left button to open squares, the middle button to mark mines and the right button to mark safe squares. The grid was increased to 16x16 and the number of mines increased. Brian Dalio (USA) modifed the game over the next month to allow users to move to any square previously visited. A major innovation was putting numbers in previously visited squares to remind you how many mines it touched. At the end of the game, incorrectly marked mines were highlighted with an 'X'. In November 1989 Thomas Eldridge (USA) released Kaboooom, which also added numbers and the ability to mark mines. The most important Relentless Logic clone was written by Curt Johnson (USA) for the OS/2 operating system in 1989. When Robert Donner expressed an interest in programming a game for Windows, Curt gave him the sourcecode as a starting point. Over the next year the game evolved into Minesweeper.