Slot machines are unquestionably one of the most important assets that any casino can have. Slot machines always make up a big part of the gaming floor and are one of the biggest draw cards for casinos. The history of slot machines starts in the 1800’s and brings a lot of stories together.
Slot machines first appeared in the late 1800’s in San Francisco and where a long way from the machines that we see today. These early slot machines had card numbers instead of the fruit symbols that are common today.
At the start the card symbols were used so that gamblers had a familiar reference for the machines and didn’t see them as something that was “new and frightening”. These machines usually had five reels with 10 cards on each, meaning that there were two cards left out of a standard deck. The cards that were left of were the Ten of Spades and the Jack of Hearts. Leaving out these cards meant that the machines had instantly halved the chances of the player getting a Royal Flush and a big prize. These machines didn’t pay out money, but prizes of free dinks, cigars, etc were given to winning players.
In 1899, Charles Fey produced the first slot machine that resembled the machines that we know today. This machine was called “The Liberty Bell” and featured three reels with various symbols, including a cracked Liberty Bell, the major symbol. this machine had the new parts of a coin acceptor, a payout table and a large handle on the side. Charles placed his first machine in a San Francisco saloon to see how the public would react to this new technology. The machine caused such a sensation that Charles quit his job and focused solely on his new invention. Because of this, Charles Fey basically monopolized the slot machine market and became very successful.
In 1909 Stephen Mill decided to modify Fey’s original design by adding ten new symbols to each reel and making the machine more compact to make moving and installing the machine easier. This new machine became a big smash hit as well, and in time took over from Fey’s machines.
All this changed in 1964 with the introduction of the first slot machines that used electronic micro-processors to determine the outcome of the games. As well as making the machines more secure, the introduction of electronic slot machines also meant that operators could offer larger prizes and jackpots on the machines thanks to the increased ability to have the reels stop where they were determined to stop.
From here, the next step for slot machines happened in 1974 when Walt Freely introduced the first video-based slot machine. This machine was called the “Fortune Coin” and was a very simplified machine, consisting only of the solid-state computer unit, the coin hopper and a TV screen. Even though these machines had huge benefits for the casinos and also meant better odds, highly controlled payout’s and jackpots for the players. slot machine players were very slow to trust this new technology. People were used to seeing the reels actually spinning in real life for the past 75 years, so a machine that there were no actual reels meant that people were skeptical as to how fair the machines would be.
One of the biggest events to help out video-based slot machines was the introduction of video poker games. Even though the two games were only connected by both being video-based, when people found that video poker games were fair and could be trusted, public perception to video-based slot machines grew.
From here, the humble three-reeled slot machine has grown to machines of 3, 5, 7, 9 and even more reels, with huge variations on symbols, pay lines, jackpots, bet sizes and even extra side games. From video slots, the logical jump was made to add slot machines to online casinos, and this has meant that the 100 years of research and development has been put into each and every slot machine that you find at online casinos today.
Take a look at this interesting video of the History of Slot Machines with Marshall Fey,John Burke,John Davis,Claire Carter and Arden Myrin.
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