Even if the slot machines are relatively new because they need mechanical components to work, unlike many of the other games that have roots that date back centuries in the past, their popularity has grown exponentially over the years.
These colorful games were first only introduced in the casinos as an experiment, with the whole purpose of entertaining the customers through their fun designs and to especially entertain the women while their partners were playing more traditional games.
Even if these games were only an experiment at first, they took over the world since people loved playing them from the beginning because they can be a lot of fun. Because of that, we decided to share a brief history of the slots tech. Brace yourself because we are going to go back in time, right to the beginning of this game, and make our way back up from there.
The Liberty Bell was the first variation of the modern mechanical slot machine we see today
Even if the slot machine is one of the youngest games created that you can find in a traditional land-based casino nowadays, with a documented beginning that only dates a bit over one hundred years, its beginnings are still not set in stone.
Most sources and people consider Charles Fey to be the inventor of the slot machine but, the fact that he made the first slot machine in his San Francisco workshop is a highly debatable topic, even today. Some sources claim that Fey built his slot machine in 1887, while others consider that he only did it after eight years, in 1895.
Even if eight years might not seem like they hold such a big importance, they are extremely significant for this period because around the same time Fey was building his slot, a company called Sittman and Pitt Company, was developing their own.
The slot game produced by The Sittman and Pitt Company in 1891 was based on a poker game since many of the people living on the East Coast were familiar with this game by that time. The game contained five drums that were spinning, each with ten different cards, and a total of 50 cards in the whole game. The entire purpose of the game was to make the best possible poker hand by spinning the drums.
The exact date at which Charles Fey developed his slot machine is still uncertain; he did it somewhere between 1887 and 1895. He may or may not be the father of the slot games but, one thing is for sure, he is the one that made the popularity of this game go through the roof.
Fey’s slot machine is the better of the two ones produced around the same time since it has a design that resembles a lot more with the slots we have today but, also because it’s not based on poker, and that makes it easier to play for the regular people. The game only had three reels, and it was using recognizable symbols instead of poker cards, one of these symbols being the Liberty Bell, which gave the slot its name.
The popularity and demand of Fey’s slots was so big that people were ordering his machines even while a ban on gambling was on. Because of its increased popularity, manufacturers started to copy his design, and soon, Liberty Bell became famous in a vast number of bars, bowling alleys, saloons, and even barber shops.
It is not sure even today what was the nature of the relationship between Fey and the Mills Novelty Company but, in 1907, Mills produced their own version of Fey’s original slot, called Mills Liberty Bell. This slot managed to smash its competitors since it was way easier to install than the others. Its popularity was so immense that the founder of the company had to develop assembling line tactics special for producing slot machines to keep up with the demand.
Mills Novelty Company produced more versions of this slot while keeping Fey’s design authentic but, with essential additions, like a bell that was ringing, making those slots more similar to the ones we have today.
Onwards and Upwards
Antique 1930’s Mills War Eagle 5c Nickel Slot Machine Jackpot Payout Original
The ban on gambling was in full swing, and the laws enforced by the government made many slot manufacturers to either go out of business or to take their business into another realm. The demand for slot machines was still high, even in this period, and Mills Novelty Company kept on developing slots but, they had to take out the bells, so the machines were less noticeable.
Nevada was the first state from the USA to remove the ban on gambling in 1931, and because of that, a wide variety of casinos soon started to get built in, and around Las Vegas. These casinos began to introduce the slot machines with the sole purpose of entertaining their customers but, their popularity soon skyrocketed, and the slots became a symbol for the gambling world alongside poker, blackjack, and roulette.
From this point on, the era of slot games began, and more and more games started to be developed by different manufacturers, with various numbers of reels, themes, and designs.
Bally Double Bell Slot Machine
Most slots from that period were still working on the same system developed before 1930, with slight improvements, until 1963, when Bally Manufacturing Company developed the first electro-mechanical slots game. Because of the great improvements that these slots had compared to their predecessors, the Bally Manufacturing Company was producing most slots in Vegas by 1968.
The following decades from that point on were the ones that really ended up revolutionizing the slot games, starting with Bally in the 1970s when they introduced the first random number generators, and video screens to the slot games.
Soon after that, in the 1980s Sircoma was the first company to release a computerized video poker slot machine, and Bally also releases one during the same period.
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Slots have suffered significant changes since their conception back in the late 1800s, and a new era started for them after the 1980s since the computerized video slots opened new doors for people.
Now, you can pretty much access hundreds, if not even thousands of different slots games, at the push of a button, both from your desktop computer but, also from your phone, in any online casino of your choice. These online casinos evolved quickly, with pioneers that keep on innovating this ecosystem, and allow hundreds of thousands of users to enjoy these games from the comfort of their home.
Which one was the first slot machine produced, and by who, it doesn’t matter as much as what that machine meant, and the gambling revolution that it started. We went from a few completely mechanical machines with not the best design possible, to now, having hundreds of versions of these games spread both in the land-based casinos but, also in the online ones
With the technologies that are rapidly evolving on a constant basis, the future of this popular game is looking exciting, and one thing is for sure, that these games are going to evolve so much within the next few years that we cannot even imagine it.