Slot Machines: A Brief History

Around the year 1880, coin-operated mechanical devices were invented, and the history of slot machines began. At the time, America was rapidly expanding westward. As Manifest Destiny asserted itself, frontier settlements like the dusty hardscrabble villages seen in classic Western films began to spring up.

Machines that paid out real coins were patented in 1888, albeit they were not particularly popular. These were primitive machines that required a lot of maintenance. They were also infamous for being simple to defraud. Games with prizes from the bartender — coins, free drinks, cigars, and so on – became more popular.

The Beginning of Slot Machines

The first game that we can term the true slot machine was invented by Charles August Fey, a Bavarian-born American citizen. Fey was a mechanic in San Francisco at the time, which was experiencing a boom due to the discovery of rare metals and the expansion of the American West. In 1894, bored with his job, he constructed the first coin-operated slot machine. He was unable to persuade a single shopkeeper to invest in his idea, but he continued to work on it in his own time. The Card Bell was the name of his game.

By 1896, he had transformed his Card Bell game into a three-reel slot machine with an automatic cash payout system. It was so popular that Fey had no choice but to quit his work, create a factory, and start producing units as soon as possible. The game itself would be familiar to today’s gamblers, as it included a level with three spinning reels.

Fruit Symbols Were Invented

The use of fruit symbols in slot machines has a long history, dating back to 1909. The Industry Novelty Company began mass-producing machines in the design of Fey’s old Liberty Bell the following year. Fruit symbols, like everything else about the slot machine, where required. Industry Novelty attempted to mask the gambling side of their game by using icons in the shape of cherries, bananas, and grapes. 

The American Century’s Slots

It’s safe to argue that Vegas saved the slot machine and (in time) raised it to the status of fine art. In the 1950s, the invention of electro-mechanical slots offered slot designers the ability to experiment, and they did. In the 1950s, new reward structures, jackpot styles, graphic and audio effects, and features such as coin multipliers were also introduced. Two decades later, the world’s first online casino South Africa, which used virtual reels on a display rather than mechanical reels in a case, debuted in Las Vegas.

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