Slot machines are the most common casino games. Online and brick-and-mortar casinos offer thousands of various kinds of slots for every taste. Let’s take a closer look at how the first machines emerged and how they have evolved.
The first prototype of slots was presented to the world in 1891 by the NY-based company Sittman and Pitt. It featured five drums and 50 playing cards. Such machines could be found in numerous bars, and the cost of one game was a nickel. Gamblers had to insert their money and pull the lever to play. They received payouts for lining up poker hands on the reels. The Sittman and Pitt’s machine had no direct payout mechanism, so the players received their wins at the bar in the form of non-monetary prizes like drinks.
Liberty Bell Slot by Charles August Fey
Charles Augustus Fey is referred to as the inventor of the first land-based slot machine. Some facts confirm he manufactured it between 1887 and 1895. He managed to invent the machine making automatic payouts. Fey achieved this by replacing the existing five drums with three reels and replacing the playing cards with five symbols, the highest-paying of which was a liberty bell. As such, the machine received the title Liberty Bell. It gained extreme popularity. Since the inventor did not apply for a patent, other manufacturers copied his invention.
Although slots were officially prohibited in 1902, the Liberty Bell continued to be manufactured. Since the gamblers could no longer receive cash prizes, the fruit machine era began. They used fruit icons, and the players received prizes in the form of chewing gums and sweets of the corresponding flavor.
In 1907, Chicago-based producer Herbert Mills created a machine called the Operator Bell, which, by 1908, was available in most tobacconists, bowling alleys, and other places for entertainment.
Slot machines remained 100% mechanical for quite a long time. To begin the game, the player had to pull down a lever to set the reels in motion. Once the gambler pulled it, a spring inside the machine stretched, gradually stopping the reels. Due to such an approach, the gamblers felt they could control the game’s outcome to some extent.
In 1964, Bally came up with the first electromechanical slot. Its reels were operated electrically, but the player still had to pull the lever to start the game. This machine was the first with a bottomless hopper, enabling it to make automatic payouts of up to 500 coins. The Money Honey slot was extremely popular. Further, electromechanical slot machines became more common than mechanical ones. Soon, the slots began to be produced without the lever.
The First Video Slot by Fortune Coin
In 1976, the first video slot was created by the Fortune Coin company in California. This slot first appeared in the Las Vegas Hilton Hotel, and soon it got approval from the Nevada State Gaming Commission, after which it gained amazing popularity on the Las Vegas Strip. In 1978, it was bought by IGT.
The next important stage in the development of slots was in 1996 when WMS Industries Inc released Reel ‘Em. This game was the first featuring a second screen bonus round. When it was triggered, an entirely new screen appeared on the screen for the bonus game. It was the time when slots started bringing about 70% of land-based casinos’ income.
The Internet boom in the middle of the 90s led to the emergence of the first online casinos. First, only classic games like roulette and blackjack were available, but slots quickly enriched the games catalogs.
While first, online slots were reminiscent of land-based machines, computer programming soon removed restrictions, and multiple types of games appeared. Now, gamblers can enjoy online video slots with over 5 reels, unconventional layouts, special features, and bonuses from over 100 software providers.
Jackpot slots have gained extreme popularity since they were first available online. They offer a chance to win jackpots in millions, making them even more demanded among high-rollers.