For the design of the first slot machine we have to go back to the year 1891. Sittman and Pitt make a machine with 5 reels in New York. Each reel contains 50 different poker cards as pictures. The machine is immediately popular and every bar in New York wants to have this machine.
It doesn’t take long for people all over New York to play. For a nickel, players can pull the lever with the hope of a winning combination. Players who manage to do so receive a free beer or similar reward.
Sittman a Pitt’s machine may be primitive but is very popular. It doesn’t take long before the first real slot machine is there: The Liberty Bell.
The Revolutionary Liberty Bell
In 1895, Charles Fey invents a simpler casino game based on Sittman and Pit’s slot. It has 3 spinning reels and 5 symbols including diamonds which are still in use today.
The slot also has the Liberty Bell as one of its symbols. With a maximum prize of 10 nickels, the Liberty Bell is a huge success. Following The Liberty Bell, Herbert Mills makes a new machine in 1907. He calls it Operator Bell. It is an improved version of The Liberty Bell. In no time this slot machine will be in every bar, brothel, and barbershop in New York.
The Operator Bell gives fruit-flavored chewing gums as rewards and had fruits on the reels. These symbols still appear on modern slots. The payment in gum and food prizes is to avoid gambling laws in most American states and it works flawlessly. The Operator Bell is popular for decades until Bally developes a fully automated machine in 1963: Money Honey. When you look back in time, this is the first modern slot machine.
The Booming Popularity
Thirteen years after Money Honey, Fortune Coin Co. develops the world’s first slot machine. The first few units are placed in the Hilton Hotel in Las Vegas. IGT buys the rights to the company’s technology in 1978. The rest is history.
After the huge success of Money Honey and Fortune Coin’s slot machine, casinos were soon flooded by different kinds of machines. Players were at the machines 24/7 and casinos were drowning in money. Sure, many players win big sums, but as the old adage says, the casino always wins in the end.
The First Video Slot
The next major landmark in history is in 1996 when WMS Industries releases the first video slot. This machine has a bonus round. Called Reel ‘Em, the slot was an instant hit and set the stage for future versions that dominate the gambling industry even today.
Reel ‘Em has a second screen for the bonus round which featured additional payouts. This makes all the machines even more popular in casinos. These days the machines bring in more than 70% of the casino’s profits.