Learn all about the history of slot machines from their inception 100 years ago, to the modern day online slots and mobile casino slots games.
Slot Machines History:
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It's truly amazing to think back to the beginning of the slot machine and to when they first became popular. People would probably guess that slot machines have been around for fifty years - but this guess would be a bit too low. They actually hit the scene as early as 1895 when they were invented by Charles Fey in San Francisco. The first of the poker machine, called pokies machines was called the Liberty Bell and it had three spinning reels. The machine showed diamonds, spades, hearts and a cracked Liberty Bell. If you were lucky enough to get three of the Liberty Bells, you were in luck. The slots machine would offer up $.50 or ten nickels for your jackpot. It's actually possible to go and visit this slots machine part of history. It's on display in a restaurant called the Liberty Belle Saloon & Restaurant in Reno, Nevada
Quite a Businessman:
Charles Fey had an amazing mind and he was quite a businessman. He invented the first draw poker machine as well. He also put out other pokies machines that included Draw Power, Three Spinde and Klondike. He also was clever enough to invent a way to check if people were using real nickels or fake ones when they played. All of Charles Fey's machines were offered to saloons and bars with a 50/50 cut between the site and Fey of the total profits.
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People loved Fey's slot machines and they came from near and far to play them. Many gambling supplies companies actually tried to buy the rights to the Liberty Bell and to Fey's other products, but he never agreed to sell any of it. So, necessity is the mother of invention and knock-off pokies machines soon hit the market. The first knock off was called Operator Bell and it was made in 1907 by Herbert Mills. Mills' creation for slots was the first one that looked like the fruit machines we know today. His slot machine game included fruit symbols such as lemons, plums, cherries and others, which are still prevalent in some of today's modern slot machines.
Restrictions upon Gambling:
The beginning of the 20th century saw some difficult times for slots machine investors, inventors and users. There was an anti-gambling movement that came about in the early part of the century. San Francisco saw the slot machines outlawed in 1909 and Nevada outlawed them about a year later. During this time-period, it was very difficult for people in the slots industry. People actually tried to get around the anti-gambling rules by calling the slots machines vending machines. They were actually designed to give out candy, gum and coupons that players could then cash in for cigars. Interestingly enough, the term "close, but not cigar" comes from this era. Eventually, as most things do, this movement passed and people were able to begin enjoying their games again.
The Middle of the 20th Century:
By the 1930s, Mills was trying to design a quieter slots machine that he called the "Silent Bell" and with it he created the double jackpots. The 1930s saw a number of exciting new machines including the War Eagle, the Roman Head, the Lion Head and the Castle Front. These machines became even more popular when mobsters like Bugsy Siegel opened hotels in Las Vegas. Many of these slots machine games were found at his Flamingo Hotel in Vegas in the 1940s. One of the most famous machines of this time period in pokies was Big Bertha. She accepted half dollars and dollars and she paid out about 80% of what she collected. She was then replaced with Super Big Bertha which was actually powered by a five horsepower electric motor! Super Big Bertha was created with 8 reels and 20 symbols.
The Dawn of the Electronic Slot Machine Age:
The next stage in the development of slots machine history was the electronic inventions for them. The original machines were fully mechanical which meant that they had security issues and mechanical failures and problems at times. By 1964 electronic machines were on the market, and the slots world really took off. These machines had two main advantages for pokies players. They weren't nearly as easy to cheat on and the operators were able to offer much bigger prizes. With the mechanical slots, there were a limited number of stops that could occur on the reels, but this wasn't the case with the electronic pokies games. They could spin over and over without mechanical breakdown.
Video Slots Fun
The first video slots came onto the scene in 1975 and were made by Walk Fraley in Las Vegas. Many players didn't trust these slot machines at first because they couldn't see the reels spinning and they didn't trust the outcome. Surprisingly, these machines didn't take off until the 1980s, as people got more comfortable with all sorts of computerized devices. The first of the video pokies games that was well accepted was Draw Poker. Created in 1979, IGT came out with this hit and helped this type of pokies to get into the market. The IGT company, International Game Technology, was first created in 1975 by William "Si" Redd. Their major turning point happened in 1978 when they purchased the Fortune Coin Company. They started to handle the sales of Fortune Coin Company's video slots, and with Redd's expertise in the field, this type of pokies soared.
Video Poker Rubs Off
Interestingly, people only really started to trust the video slots games when they started to play video poker. People were attracted to the video poker games, and when they saw that they were fair and that they could be trusted as a medium, they turned their attention back to the video slots games that they had shunned. In addition, in 1986, IGT created the first progressive slots. They had slot machines in multiple sites that were linked to each other, allowing people larger jackpots. This machine was called Megabucks and it really took the industry by storm.
Going Online with Slots
Of course, the invention of the internet created the entirely new world of online slots. Certainly, online slots saw a revolution with the advent of the computer. Computerized machines were free to have as many symbols as desired and as many reels as wanted. When players pull the handles on these online slots games, the random number generator then conveys to the computer which symbols to have appear. The online slots also started showing more layers to the games with bonus rounds, free spin sections and more. Rather than just having fruit games and a few other formats, the slots games also took off with design. The online slots games showed hundreds of themes, allowing players to customize their experience and to select a theme that spoke to them. Today, the slot machines player will find hundreds of such games online. They range from traditional looking three reel fruit machines to elaborate progressive games with bonus rounds and other perks.
From here, of course, it was an easy leap to offer online slots in the new format with the advent of the mobile device. While mobile slots pale in comparison to the variety of games available with online slots, they do offer one major advantage. They are portable and that offers a great deal to today's players. These mobile games offer the same look and feel as the online slots varieties and can be played directly on mobile devices such as iPads, iPods, iPhones, Androids and other devices with full internet access. The offerings of mobile slots includes progressive games, regular 3 reel slots, 5 reel slots and other choices. While there isn't a huge range of games yet, the ones that are offered have crystal clear graphics and have even started having sound effects.
A History in Time
It would be amazing for Charles Fey to be able to see what has become of the slot machine today! What began as a heavy machine with a manual lever and a clunky design is, today, available in the palm of the hand with dramatic colors. Online slots offer hundreds upon hundreds of choices, each with a new theme and a creative delivery. Now, it's only a matter of time before the next style of slots games are invented and it becomes even easier for us to enjoy all that the slots world has to offer. The games today have a huge array of offerings from regular 3 reel online slots games to progressive slots that pay out large jackpots. Similarly, online players today can enjoy tournaments, progressive games, promotions and many other ways to engage with the online slots and to enjoy. Pokies have come a long way and it's amazing to reflect on where they have been.
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