The History Of Slots.
Slot machines are undoubtedly one of the most played casino games around, and in both land-based and online casinos slot machines are a very prominent feature.
Slots make up for a large amount of the casino gaming roster, and it is considered to be one of the main attractions. Even if you are not a fan of hard, strategy-heavy games, slots are there to balance it all out.
Many people now play online slots, and this is a feature that has added even more excitement to the casino world. However, it has not always been this way, so, it is time to travel back in time and explore what made slots the way they are today.
Slots have been around for over 100 years, and much has changed over those years to get where we are today. But, where did it all begin?
1887-1895: The Liberty Bell!
While the origins of the slot machine can be traced back to the year 1891, there is an invention that we know is dated.
This would be the invention of the first ever slot machine by Charles Augustus Fey, who’s named as being the inventor of slot machines.
However, the date on which he created the first ever machine is not pinpointed, but we do know that it happened some time from 1887 to 1895.
He crafted a machine to give automatic payouts, and to do so, he reduced the complexity of achieving a win on this machine.
He replaced a system of drums (usually 5) with a system of 3 reels, and he replaced play cards with 5 simple symbols; hearts, diamonds, horseshoes, spades, and the liberty bell. Hence, the name of this machine being ‘The Liberty Bell’.
The bell symbol, when matched up, provided the highest payout, which is also why this machine was named ‘The Liberty Bell’.
Fey made the mistake of not patenting his design, and thus this machine was then copied by other manufacturers. Although, it was probably for the best.
Despite the Liberty Bell, this is technically the first known edition. Yes, that 5 drum set-up we referred to earlier. It was made by Sittman and Pitt, a New York company, in 1891. It has 5 drums and a wild amount of 50 playing cards.
This machine was often found in bars and only cost a nickel per spin. You put your money in, action the lever, and you would get a payout for lining up different poker hands. This slot machine did take on aspects of poker.
They sneakily increased the house edge on this setup by taking out two cards, which were the ten of spades and jack of hearts, from the machine. It reduced the probability of you getting a royal flush by 50%.
It also lacked a payout system, thus you would have to collect your wins from the person behind the bar. These were not monetary wins, usually free cigars or a drink.
Early 1900s: Fruit Machines.
Not long after Fey’s invention of the three reel set up, slots were banned. However, Fey’s machines were still being made. Since cash prizes were not allowed to be given out anymore, the time of fruit machines continued.
These funky machines used fruits as symbols, and you would get chewing gum or candy in the flavor of which you won.
Then in 1907, a company produced a new slot machine which was known as the “Operator Bell”, and by 1908 it was found in many locations.
You know that ‘BAR’ symbol we all know, this was when it was introduced, as it came from the company logo for Bell-Fruit.
1964: Electromechanical Slots.
The next development did not come until 1964 with a machine known as ‘Money Honey’. These reels were the first to operate electrically, however, you did still have to pull a lever to start the game, as it was what was familiar.
This machine was also the first to have a hopper that was bottomless, meaning it would make automated payouts of 500 coins!
It started to become exceedingly popular, which means that electromechanical slots started to appear more and more.
It was not too long after this that they decided to remove the lever.
Late 1970s: The First Video Slots.
This was the period in time in which we saw the first ever real video slots go into development.
This was an invention by the Las Vegas company. It features a modified version of a small TV in the unit. The first ever edition of this was made available in Vegas at the Hilton.
After this, aside from some cheat-proofing and modifications that were required, video slot machines were approved by the Nevada State Gaming Commission. Then, following this, video slots became massively popular on the Strip.
1996- Now: Modern Slots.
Next in slot history was ‘Reel ‘Em’, this was one of the first known video slot with a second screen, bonus round option. When this was triggered a different screen came up on which a bonus round looked.
You could get an additional payout in this round. Around this time slots were becoming even more popular, for the most part, they actually made up a good 70% of most casinos’ income, and took up a good 70% of floor space in casinos too!
The internet rose into power in the mid 90s and amidst this came online casinos too. At first, it was only classic games, such as roulette or blackjack. Yet, not long after slots were added in as well.
They became very popular, even more so than the traditional games and so, they started to take up a majority of the room in casino online selections.
At first these games would look similar to how they did inside casinos, with the same amount of reels and symbols.
Yet, programming removed these restrictions and new games in new styles started to emerge, some with wild layouts and structures.
Thus, bearing the era of the online casino slot machine.