According to Legal Slots, the term slot machines was originally used for all automatic vending machines as well as for the gambling devices, it was not until the 20th century that the term became restricted to the latter. A “fruit machine” is one British term for a slot machine. The one-armed bandit is another popular nickname.
In 1895 the first slot machine was produced. The person to invent the slots was Charles Fey. Fey worked on the slot machine until 1907 when he sold the first one through Mill Novelty Company. The first slot machine was called ‘Mills Liberty Bell’. The design would probably be a shock to you today as it was cast iron with feet and toes. After this period the slot machines didn’t have the toes, but extremely detailed feet.
Born on February 2, 1862, the youngest of 16 children, he discovered his passion for all things mechanical while working in a farm tool factory in Munich and then he endured a number of biographical vicissitudes which culminated in his immigrating to New Jersey.
He moved to California, came down with tuberculosis and a doctor gave him one year to live. Mother Nature vetoed the doctor’s opinion and at the age of 25 Fey was hired by the California Electric Company. In San Francisco, Fey observed many nickel-in-the-slot machines and in 1894 undertook to make his own, a three wheel affair. He built more and began placing them on location on a 50% rental basis.
Quitting the California Electric Company and moving to Berkeley in 1895, Fey built a second model of slot machine in his basement, the 4-11-44. The 4-11-44 had three concentric numbered dials and was set on a long, narrow cabinet. This slot game was based on the popular lottery game Policy, in which 4-11-44 was the highest-paying combination.
In 1896, Fey opened a slot manufacturing factory on San Francisco’s Market Street. Here he produced the cast-iron Liberty Bell slot machine which used three independently operating reels holding ten symbols each. Beyond playing-card imagery, the reels had bells, horseshoes and a star. To win the jackpot, players had to have three like symbols on the payline. The chances of winning the jackpot were one in one-thousand, which can be calculated thusly: 10 X 10 X 10.
Fey’s factory produced other slots, among which were the Three Spinde, Draw Power and the Klondike; none had quite the fame and widespread use as the Liberty Bell. As the public placements of slot machines grew, government meddled in the freedom of its citizens and made the slots illegal. Fey himself was actually fined and on occasion arrested. People circumvented the anti-gambling laws by calling the slots vending machines. They were designed to dispense candy, gum and coupons to be redeemed for cigars. The expression “Close, but no cigar” comes from this era of slot machine use.
In the first machine you still had the reels we know today. The reels, instead of having bars, had actual playing cards. The king, queen, and jack were on the reels. There was a bell that would ring every time you won the spin. The bell of course has long been gone. Most of the slots are just going to have the bell signal when the max jackpot has been reached, rather than every time you win.
It should not be a surprise that many of the slot machine companies are still basing their slot designs on the machine from 1907. Most of the older slot machines just have 20 different symbols to obtain. Now we have more than 20 symbols and more than just the three reels of the older machine. The newer machines are also made with computer memory so that they have a random display of hundreds of symbols and special bonuses.
During 1910 another slot machine was produced based on the ‘Liberty Bell’. This one was called the ‘Operation Bell’. It had a coin entry with the fruit symbols. In fact this slot has several machines mirrored after it such as ‘Fruit Mania’. Of course the early machine was over a 100 pounds in weight. They sold about 30,000 of these machines.
Five years later the slot machines changed again. This is when the wood machines came onto the market. A little bit later there were more changes made to make the machine less expensive to the casinos and of course easier to make.
Mills decided to go further in developing the different slot machines. They had several themed machines as well as color added to make it a lot more fun. In 1931 the Lion Head, War Eagle, and Roman Head were released. In 1933 the Castle Front was released.
It was 30 years later after the first machine was created by Fey that they became very popular. Bugsy Siegel introduced the slot machines into the Flamingo Hilton Hotel in the 40’s which solidified their existence.
The start of the 1980s saw the birth of the computerized era of slot machines. Sircoma, a new company in the field, produced a video poker slot machine which caused a sensation in the industry
Other machines were developed which allowed a player to choose from a selection of games from the same machine. These slot machines were becoming an all-inclusive gambling destination and which meant that players did not need to walk around the casino floor looking for different games. Bonus features were also added which enabled a player to have a chance to win more money, besides the already staggering jackpot prizes that most of the slot machines offered.
Today, slot machines make up about 30% of an average casino’s profits. As popular as slots are in the land casino world, they are even more popular in the wonderful world of online casinos
The computerized route that slot machines were following in the late 1990s split into the land casinos version and the online version. Online casino software providers were quick to develop a wide range of slot machines for hundreds of different sites.