Charles Fey, a Bavarian car mechanic who wound up in San Francisco in the late 1800s, is the unheralded inventor of one of the greatest inventions of all time: the slot machine. For slot machine fans throughout the ages, Charles Fey is The Hero!
Charles Fey & Liberty Bell
Fey invented his Liberty Bell in 1895, and it had three spinning reels. Diamond, spade, and heart symbols were painted around each reel, plus the image of a cracked Liberty Bell. A spin resulting in three Liberty Bells in a row gave the biggest payoff, a grand total of fifty cents or ten nickels.
In 1901, Charles Fey invented the first draw poker machine. Charles Fey was also the inventor of the trade check separator, which was used in the Liberty Bell. The hole in the middle of the trade check allowed a detecting pin to distinguish fake nickels or slugs from real nickels. Fey rented his machines to saloons and bars based on a 50/50 split of the profits.
How The Original Slots Worked
Inside each cast iron slot machine there were three metal hoops called reels. Each reel had ten symbols painted on it. A lever was pulled that spun the reels. When the reels stopped, a jackpot was awarded if three of a one kind of symbol lined up. The payoff in coinage was then dispensed from the machine.
Slot Machine Popularity Big Time
In 1940 Bugsy Siegal put slots on the floor of his Flamingo casino in Las Vegas. Sadly, Fey died in 1944 and didn’t live to see his machine become the most popular gambling game in casinos around the world.