The History of the Slot Machine

Unlike other games of chance, the history of the slot machine is straightforward and the facts well established. Even though its entire history spans a little more than a century, it has established a place for itself in casinos worldwide.

The prevailing view is that the history of the slot machine began with Charles Fey (1862-1944). In fact the Pitt and Sittman company had, by 1891, developed a device similar to the slot machine, and was being used in several establishments; however it cannot be said that what they constructed was truly one, because the payouts were not produced by the apparatus, but left to the bars and saloons to award.

It was Charles Fey, the German immigrant, who built the first slot machine in 1895. Christened Liberty Bell, the apparatus had all the characteristics of the typical slot: there were three metal loops painted with images drawn from playing cards, and an image of a bell. A pull of the lever that brings up three pictures of the bell wins the player the jackpot prize of 50 cents.

Fey began renting his new invention to several bars and taverns, and it quickly proved popular. Inevitably there came the imitators and competition, the most noteworthy being Operator Bell, developed by Herbert Mills in 1907. it has the distinction of being the first machine in history to embed images of fruits in its reels, a custom followed to this day by several slots.

The succeeding years saw an increase in the popularity of the slot machine, as technological innovations made possible bigger bets and larger prizes. In the 1970s the Dollar Slot Machine was introduced by casinos, increasing the amount of bets that a player can wager.

During the 1980s slots history and construction was changed with the rapid evolution of computers. This led to the use of the Random Number Generator (RNG), allowing manufacturers to dispense with the mechanical reels.

More improvements were introduced in the 1990s: A company called Bally came up with machines capable of accommodating larger bets and coins than ever before. The same company also came up with a novel feature; multiple game features in a single machine, something that had never existed before in its history.

The latest advances in technology have rendered the traditional image of the slot machine obsolete. The popular image of a player pulling a lever and plugging quarters has been replaced by push buttons. A majority of the new machines today are also capable of accepting bills, eliminating the need for coins. Extra rounds and extra jackpots are now standard fare.

The latest trends are towards touch screen technology and accommodation of cards instead of cash. Yet for all the changes that the slot machine is undergoing, one constant that has not changed is the excitement and thrill the player feels when the bell rings, signaling the jackpot.

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