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Slots history

There are three stages that can be seen as incremental developments of slots history:

  • Mechanical slots
  • Electromechanical slots
  • Computerized slots

Mechanical Slots History

The first prototype for a slot machine originates around 1870. The first machine was built by August Fey, a Bavarian mechanical whiz that immigrated to California. At age 25 Fey was hired by the California Electric company, where he found nickel-in-the-h. In 1894 Fey built a three wheel slot machine, and later he built a second model called the 4-11-44, where the highest prize was given for the 4-11-44 combination.

During 1896 Fey opened a factory that manufactured slot machines. The factory produced the Liberty Bell slots that had three independent reels with ten symbols on each one - what we consider today classic slots. The factory had other models of slots, but the Liberty Bell was the most successful one. Same as today's anti online gambling laws, the popularity of Fey's slots also pushed the government to make slots illegal. In an attempt to circumvent these laws, gambling agents called the slots vending machines, and adjusted them so they gave out prizes like candy and cigars.

A known nickname for slots, that has remained throughout slots history, is the "one armed bandit". This name is actually more relevant for the earlier models of mechanical slots that sometimes had 25% and even 50% house edges. This is unconceivable in terms of today's online gambling slots that offer as little as 0.5% house edge. Today's gambling odds have advanced and are much more beneficial to players.

Fey also introduced the first draw poker slot machine to slots history in 1901. Fey wrote in his biography that he had no idea at the time that the poker version would catch on. 106 years later we can safely say video poker slots became an independent gaming category by itself. In addition to poker slots, Fey also thought of online gambling bonuses that have remained part of some of the slots variations until today.

By 1906 Fey's lucky streak began to diminish. His factory was destroyed in the great San Francisco earthquake. Only one Liberty Bell machine was saved, and it can be seen today in the Liberty Belle Saloon and Restaurant in Reno, Nevada.

Fey's later union with Mills Novelty Company produced slots with gooseneck coin entry and fruit symbol reels.

Further development in slots history include the building of wooden slot machines, as well as double jackpot slots.

Electromechanical and computerized machines

Since the middle of the 20th century electromechanical machines were introduced for slots history. This allowed for a more precise machine with less break downs and maintenance, and also raised the stakes for winning.

Computerized slot machines allowed for further accuracy in the randomization of slot machines' results. This way exact calculation of slots payouts can be monitored and reported. Even the most classic looking slot machine you find uses computerized chips in its mechanism, and players only benefit from this.

The recent online gambling slot machine also use this mechanism, and have opened a new world of slots variations, with the use of flash animation and advanced gaming options, making slots playing even more fun and exciting. Even though throughout slots history the game was introduced with many changes, the basic slots rules remain the same, as it was played almost 150 years ago.

Article Submitted by:
Tera Lee, Gaming and Casino Journalist.

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