The original Freecell executable was distributed as a test application that came with the Win32 dll for Windows 3.1. This allowed you to run 32-bit applications (such as Warcraft 2, etc) on the older operating system. It was originally written by Jim Horne for Microsoft. Contrary to popular belief, the games are randomly generated, but the games are generated the same way by the numbers as seeds, therefore they are consistent. The grid of cards was created with the knowledge that a few might be impossible, and was left vague on purpose.

The game was so popular that Microsoft packaged it with several of its Entertainment Packs, until it was finally included with Windows when Windows 95 came out. It now enjoys the status it does today.

There are two easter egg games in FreeCell, -1, and -2 (accessible from the select game feature off of the file menu). You can hit control-shift-f10 to bring up an abort-retry-ignore dialog to win, lose, or cancel.