Charles Fey, a car mechanic, invented the first mechanical slot machine, Liberty Bell, in 1895. The slot machine featured three spinning reels with card symbols on each reel. It also had an image of a cracked Liberty Bell. Matching three Liberty Bells gave the biggest payout of 10 nickels or 50 cents – also check out Corner Bet Roulette.
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An Increase in Demand
With time, the demand for the Liberty Bell slot machine grew, and Fey could not build them fast enough in his small shop.
Many gambling supply manufacturers tried buying the rights to manufacture and distribute Liberty Bell, but Fey refused to sell. As a result, Herbert Mills, a Chicago manufacturer of arcade machines, began producing slot machines in 1907.
The new machine, Operator Bell, was a knock-off of Fey’s Liberty Bell. The new machine included fruit symbols, like plums, cherries, and lemons.
Unlike the modern-day slots, the early versions were missing a direct payout mechanism, so any prizes were paid to the winner at the bar. Awards could be given in the form of chewing gum of the same flavour as the matching symbols and cigars.
Before the electromagnetic machines were introduced, reels were spun by pulling a lever at the side of the machine. Many modern slots still have this lever at the side and the buttons. Because of the fruit symbols, slot machines today are offered as fruit machines in the UK.
The Electric and Video Slot
The first fully electromagnetic slot was invented in 1963 by Bally. It was known as the Money Honey and featured a bottomless hopper and automatic payout of up to 500 coins.
The first video slot machine, Fortune Coin, was developed in 1976 by Walt Fraley. It used a modified 19-inch Sony Trinitron colour receiver for the display and logic boards for all slot machine functions.
The first units were used in Las Vegas on a trial basis, but it was just a matter of time before technology allowed multiple slot machines to be linked to various sites. In 1986, IGT invented the first progressive slot machine—the Megabucks.
The Advent of Online Slot Machines
The introduction of the internet in the 1990s, along with faster and more powerful computers, saw the introduction of online slots. Today, online casinos reach the worldwide demography of gamers bringing the fun of slots into the homes of gamers.
The designer’s imagination limits modern digital slot machine design and gameplay. Software developers constantly push boundaries to produce exciting, fun, and original slot machines.
The number of slot developers and game portfolios is increasing yearly. While the number of land-based manufacturers is low, there are over 100 online slots. Some companies produce a minimal selection of slots, but some are giants in the industry, offering an enormous choice.
An example is Microgaming—they are one of the oldest in the gambling industry, and their online slot collection exceeds 500 titles.
Slot machines have come a long way, and the growth is expected to continue in the coming years, despite healthy lifestyle benefits being a forefront of society. You can look forward to more slot technology advancements that improve the gaming experience.