Slot machines can be seen in a number of countries where they have been given different names. For example, in America, they are called slot machines; in the UK, fruit machine; in Canada, the slots; in Australia and New Zealand, the poker machine or “pokies.” They are also called “one-armed bandits” because, historically, they were operated by a lever on one side of the machine instead of a button on the machine’s front panel, and because they were so good at their game that they could take all the punters’ money and leave them without any money.
History: The first slot machine was invented by Charles Fey, an American immigrant from Bavaria, in 1887 as a gambling machine, based on poker. It sought to answer the problem of automating a poker game. This device had three spinning reels and five symbols—diamonds, spades, horseshoes, hearts and the Liberty Bell. In fact, here is where his device was named. In fact, he called his machine “The Liberty Bell” because of the symbols he used for the large winning jackpot combination.
The Liberty Bell was the first symbol of a jackpot and three Liberty Bells in a row would fetch players the highest payout for these slots. Fortunately, for Fey, his device was very popular and there was a huge demand for them.
In 1889, Fey had a rival in the company, Sittman and Pitt of Brooklyn, which took Fey’s three-line slots and created a five-drum pay-line slot. This contained 50 card faces that were based on poker hands, flushes, pairs, royal flushes and straights. There was no rule on payouts, so bar owners would sometimes set the rule for this and often give out a beer for a pair, along with tobacco, cigars or any other item for a flush or royal flush. If there was no win, it was seen as a “Jack.”
At this time, payouts were also given as fruit-flavored gum. These slot machines bore fruit symbols, such as melon, cherry and bar, that are visible even today. The bar symbol belongs to the logo of the Bell-Fruit Gum Company, seen today on land-based and online slot machines all over the world. Since no cash prizes could be given in those times under the anti-gambling law, candy-based prizes were given.
In 1963, slot machine technology took a technological leap with Bally Technologies Inc developing the world’s first electromechanical slot machine, called Money Honey. Electrical components replaced the traditional mechanical components which improved game play and allowed several coin bets, leading to more attractive payouts. Later, flashing lights also formed part of the slot machine’s new look and overall, the jackpot size also increased. With the coming of electromechanical slot machines, this game grew exponentially in popularity as a casino game.
In the 1980s, when microchip technology led to exciting advancements, online slots got a shot in the arm. In 1979, the world stood in awe of the first video slot, made by Fortune Coin Co. The rights for this were quickly bought by IGT, the famous slot machine manufacturer. He later developed the technology some more because he could envision a bright future for slot machines.
In the 1990s, the advent of the Internet and super-fast computers led to the development of the first slots machines with bonus games and online slots sites. Since then, there’s been no looking back for this exciting and creative game.
When video poker was introduced, it helped develop video-based slot machines too. Ever since, the original three-reeled humble slot machine grew to have a maximum of nine reels with several symbols, bet sizes, pay lines and more side games. Today, slot machines in online casinos make them vibrant and highly enjoyed.