In today’s casinos, both real-world and online, slot machines are dominating the market. Countless punters every day enjoy playing online slots either in person at a casino, through their PC or laptop, or even via a tablet or smartphone while on the go. Video and computer technology has advanced considerably over the past few years, and this has led to slots becoming an incredibly popular gambling choice in the 21st century. Yet, slot machines aren’t a new invention. In fact, they have a long and fascinating history that all started in the 19th century. Here, we take a look at the history of slot machines and how they developed over the last hundred and twenty years.
The Very First Slot
Although slots might seem like a very modern invention, this couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, the earliest slot machine was developed back in the 19th century. Pitt and Sittman invented a slot machine in New York as long ago as 1891. This original machine had been designed to be based on poker. It had more than 50 different card faces and crowds of people would come to watch while players put coins into the slot and took their took to pull the lever. The big difference between this early slot machine and the ones today was that they couldn’t pay cash out instantly. This meant that a winning player would usually get a free drink at the bar rather than a real cash prize.
A few years later, in 1902, Chris Fey took the concept of the slot machine and turned it into a game. This would allow a lever to be pulled, revealing three symbols one at a time. If those symbols were matching, the machine paid out cash winnings. This was the earliest slot machine to resemble those we see today, and it’s vital to understanding how slot machines developed over time. Instead of the numerous card faces seen on Pitt and Sittman’s machine, Fey’s model replaced them with only five symbols. These were spades, hearts, horseshoes, diamonds and the liberty bell. This made it a breeze to spot wins, so payouts could be made automatically. The slot machine was called The Liberty Bell, so it came as no surprise that three liberty bells gave punters the biggest payout.
The First Fruit Machine
There was an enormous demand for Chris Fey’s Liberty Bell slot. This led to another developer entering the market, bringing his very own version of the slot to punters. The Chicago-based Herbert Mills created and released the Operators Bell a few years after Fey in 1907. This slot saw the introduction of fruit symbols for the first time, including cherries and watermelons – two symbols which can still be seen in traditional slots. Because of the gambling and prohibition laws, slots were no longer able to pay cash prizes to punters, so many paid out in candles and gumballs which related to the fruit symbols. The BAR symbol also was introduced at this point, being the Bell-Fruit gum company’s logo.
The Development Of Slot Machines
There was a long gap between the development of Chris Fey’s early slot machine and the first electromechanical slot. Bally created this machine in 1963, and gave it the name “Money Honey”. Its electromechanical structure enabled cash payouts of up to five hundred coins, and it required no casino attendant to facilitate the payment. This machine is believed to have been instrumental in the rise in popularity of the slot machine as a gambling option.
The next most notable moment in slot machines’ history came in 1976. This was when the very first video slot was introduced to a Las Vegas hotel. It featured a 19” modified Sony TV as its display screen, and this device was highly significant in that it launched a major drive towards slot machines in Sin City. By 1979, every single casino on the famous strip had its own video slots. At that time, the most popular slots were one-armed bandits and fruit machines. However during the 1980s and 1990s, slot machines hit new heights of success thanks to the arrival of cutting-edge video technology.
With no limitations of mechanical or structural issues, video slots began to take over in the casino sector. Additional payouts, bonus rounds and a host of other exciting features were eventually introduced, and slot machines progressed in line with modern technology’s advancements.
The Arrival Of The Online Slots
The mid 1990s saw the arrival of the internet to a mainstream audience, and this also launched the original online casinos. As a result, slot machines advanced significantly, and very soon, they were dominating the range of games available at internet casinos. Today, this has remained the same. Punters still love to wager on slots, and there are countless options to pick from in every online casino. Whatever type of theme you prefer, you’ll find something to suit your preferences, all with impressive sound quality and cutting-edge graphics. There are now also progressive jackpot slot machines, while pool wagers on certain games in every casino, offering players the chance of scooping a life-changing amount of money in prize funds. With the latest technological advances, there are also many more exciting features and innovative bonus rounds together with unconventional and unusual configurations. All of this makes playing in online casinos more exciting, and has led to an even greater demand for slots.
Gaming On The Move With Mobile Slots
With the arrival of smartphones, slots took a new direction. Instead of being purely PC based, they moved into the mobile arena. Casino game developers have invested heavily in developing mobile optimised slots over the last few years, and many of the most popular slots have now been optimised to allow for play on the smaller screens of mobile devices. Thanks to the latest HTML5 technology, today’s mobile slots feature a very responsible design. They can also be played on the majority of modern devices which run on either an Android or iOS operating system. There are always new slots being released by software developers, and most are released simultaneously for both desktop and mobile gaming.