The Tarot originated in northern Italy early in the 15th century (1420-1440) and was used to play a card game similar to Bridge.
The original name carte da trionfi (cards of the triumphs) was replaced by tarocchi around 1530 to distinguish them from a new game of triumphs or trumps then being played with ordinary playing cards.
The first unambiguous evidence of tarot divination as it is commonly understood comes from records of divinatory meanings assigned to tarot cards in Bologna early in the 1700s.
The Waite-Smith (also known as the Rider-Waite or Rider-Waite-Smith) deck was created in 1909. A. E. Waite was a prominent member of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn.
The deck owes much of its symbolism to that group and represents a departure from the earlier French tradition. The artist, Pamela Colman Smith, contributed her own vision, in the innovative creation of fully illustrated scenes for the minor arcana.
For many years, the Waite-Smith deck was the only one readily available, so it became familiar to whole generations of tarot readers.
The 78 card tarot deck, as it currently exists, is comprised of 22 cards that make up the Major Arcana and 56 cards that make up the Minor Arcana.
The Tarot remains one of the most widely used and accessible divination tools to this day. Over the centuries, countless Tarot card decks have been created celebrating diverse cultures, art forms, and systems of esoteric thought.