How Slot Machines Developed

The slot machine of today might be seen as something that has undergone multiple revolutions since its earliest form was introduced, and surveying these changes reveals some very interesting facts.

The Slot Machines of Yesterday

Anybody who knows anything about slot machine history (and that's not too many people because few really care), generally thinks that San Franciscan Charles Fey created the first one. In reality, his 1887 machine only encompassed part of what is today the slot machine. The other part comes from an 1891 invention of a company based in Brooklyn, NY. However, research has revealed a lot more about these two early mechanisms than that they preceded today's slot machines, and hopefully you'll learn something by reading this article.

Liberty Bells: Charles Fey's Slot Machines

During the late nineteenth century, the Liberty Bells, made by Charles Fey, showed up on the scene of California gambling. Everyone loved Fey's machines except probably casino owners, and, since they had the money, Liberty Bells and all other gambling machines were banned. Many other machines had been produced to try to keep up with the high demand brought by the success of the Liberty slots.

Instead of using playing cards, Liberty Bells used symbols- hearts, spades, diamonds, Liberty Bells, and horseshoes.

The three individual rounded compartments (reels) of the Liberty Bell each had five playing pieces, some combination of the kinds named above, and the biggest jackpots a player could win was for having 3 Liberty Bell pieces in one reel.

Slot Made by Sittman and Pitt

Sittman and Pitt's slots used cards. Each machine had a standard deck minus two cards with a value greater than or equal to ten. This reduced the likelihood of playing a royal flush.

Instead of the Liberty Bell's three reels, the Sittman & Pitt had five drums (similar to reels, but not the same). There were ten cards in each drum. Spinning a drum cost a nickel, so these were probably the first nickel slots. Either the proprietor or the bartender would be standing there watching the players spin, and then the player would be given drinks or cigars for winning combinations. In order to change up the game a bit, the bar owner would shuffle the card order to get different combinations and make certain ones harder to achieve.

The Fruity Slot: Bell Fruit Gum

Even today, we see the cherries and melons that originated with Bell Fruit Gum machines. The first ones came out as contemporaries to Liberty Bells, and their prizes were chewing gum. The main facet of these machines that endures is their fruity symbols

The Slots of Today

You can't really categorize modern slots. There are multiple thousands of slots types, made possible by a number of reels types, the option of video, interconnected slots, and different prizes. Movie stars, game shows and cartoons have all inspired slots at one point or another. Some of the most well-known slot manufacturers of today are Bally Gaming (maker of Money Honey, first electric slot, in 1964), Shuffle Master, International Gaming Technology (IGT), WMS Gaming, Atronic, Konami, Sigma Gaming, and Aristocrat.

Slots have come a long way since 1887, and who knows what the future holds? Gaming itself will continually revolutionize with the advent of new technologies.

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