A Brief History
The ‘Slot machine’ was a name formerly used for all automatic vending machines and gambling devices. You can play slots today in a little more of a modern setting over at 666Casino, they have numerous fruit machine games to play. It was in the 20th century that the term was restricted to gambling. There are other terms for slot machines. These include “fruit machine” which is a term popular in Britain and one-armed bandit.
The First Slot Machine: Liberty Bell from Charles Fey
The Liberty Bell slot machine was first invented in 1895 by a car mechanic known as Charles Fey in Sans Francisco. The Liberty Bell Slot machine had three spinning reels. On each of the reels, Diamond, spade and heart symbols were painted. There was also an image of a cracked Liberty Bell. A spin which led to three Liberty Bells in a row have the biggest payoff. The amount paid out then is the equivalent of fifty cents. The original Liberty Bell slot machine is still held at the Liberty Belle Saloon and Restaurant in Reno, Nevada.
The initial idea has been improved on to come up with the slot machines in casinos around the world including top UK casinos like those found online here www.newcasinosonline.co.
Charles Fey invented other machines including the Draw Power, Three Spinde as well as the Klondike. In 1901, Charles Fey launched the first draw poker machine. Charles Fey was equally the inventor of the trade check separator which was used in the Liberty Bell. There was a hole in the middle of the trade check which made it easy to distinguish between fake nickels or slugs from real ones. The machines were rented to saloons and bars and Fey took home half of the profits.
Rise in Demand for Slot Machines
The demand for Liberty Bell slot machines was huge. Fey struggled to build it all in his small shop. At a point, gambling supply manufacturers wanted distribution rights for the Liberty Bell but Charles Fey refused to sell. In 1907 therefore, a Chicago manufacturer of arcade machines known as Herbert Mills started the production of slot machines. He called his machine, Operator Bell which was an imitation of the Liberty Bell; however, Mills was the first person to add fruit symbols such as lemons, plums and cherries into the mix.
How Did The Original Slots Work?
There were three metal hoops known as reels inside the cast iron slot machine. All the reels had ten symbols painted on them. Pulling a level spun the reels and when the reels stopped, a jackpot was awarded when a symbol lined up on the three reels. The payoff in coinage was then dispensed from the machine.
The first major electronic gambling machine was the 1934 animated horserace machine known as PACES RACES. In 1964, however, an all-electronic gambling machine known as the “21” machine was built. Different electronic versions of gambling games followed including those for dice, roulette, horse racing and poker. The first electronic slot, however, was built in 1975 by the Fortune Coin Company. N. Cerracchio, R. Greene, W. Beckman, J. Reukes, and L. Black from the company developed it in Las Vegas, Nevada. The machined featured a modified 19-inch colour screen from Sony and software that took charge of all machine functions. The original machine was housed in a cabin slot. The first video slot machine was placed at Hilton Hotel in Las Vegas but modifications were made to prevent cheating. It received approval from the state of Nevada.
The history of slot machines is rich and shows people we should be thankful to for providing us with such powerful entertainment options like we have with the modern slots.
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For more information, please see…
Fey, Marshall. Slot Machines: A Pictorial History of the First 100 Years. Liberty Bell Books, 1997.
Kelly, Jack. A History of Slot Machines. 2010.