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Playing Cards

  Picture of Chinese playing cards

Playing Cards are one of the more unusual inventions because, despite the fact that they have no practical use, they became an important part of most cultures worldwide.  Playing cards, at least the versions that are now used in the English-speaking world, have not changed significantly since they were adopted by England.  They are among the few inventions that have not been improved on in this modern, technological era.  Even their transfer to the computer has left them unchanged.

Date of Invention:
Unknown; during the T'ang dynasty

Inventor:
Probably bored peasants

Importance to Chinese civilization:
Provided a form of entertainment that the world has still not tired of over a millennium later.

Importance to other civilizations:
Gave us something to do on long plane rides when the laptop runs out of power and the DVD player is broken.

 

Note: If you want to play the Chinese version of Hearts on-line, go to http://bogart.colorado.edu/~hand/.  Here, you can play against the computer or other people.  The introduction is not very easy to understand, but it has a link to a very good one on another site.

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