The History of Slot Games

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  • Written by Anette
  • Posted on September 11, 2020
Home News & Articles The History of Slot Games

Slots are probably the most popular casino game to have ever been created. Today, they can be found at nearly every casino around the globe, from land-based to online, with thousands of titles for players to choose from.

You can find them in any land-based casino, where their number ranges from only a few to hundreds of them at bigger venues. At the same time, slots have become the ruler of the online gambling segment.

The first slot machines appear many, many years ago, evolving and changing over time. In this article, we’ll try to cover their interesting history, from the first steps they made in the gambling world to modern days.

The Early Years

The first slot machine was created in 1891 by Sittman and Pitt, a company based in New York. The game consisted of five drums, offering a total of fifty playing cards. Soon it found its place in bars across the Big Apple, with players needing only a nickel to get it started. After inserting the money, they would pull the lever to play, while prizes were awarded for successfully landing poker hands on the reels. It should be pointed out the machines didn’t have a payout mechanism, so wins were awarded at the premises. Unfortunately, the list of awards didn’t include money, but cigars and free drinks.

Charles Augustus Fey created the first slot machine that awarded automatic payouts. This occurred somewhere between 1887 and 1895. Fey replaced the five drums with three reels and used five symbols instead of the playing cards. The machine was named the Liberty Bell after its highest-paying symbol. The Liberty Bell became very popular, and its design was copied by other manufacturers as Fey didn’t apply for a patent.

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Slot machines were banned in 1907, while the fact cash prizes were no longer awarded led to the rise of the fruit machines. They used fruit symbols, paying out sweets and chewing gums instead of money. The BAR symbol was introduced in 1908.

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Going into the Modern Age

Slot machines remained mechanical for many years, meaning players needed to pull a lever to get the reels spinning and to pull it once again to stop them. This gave punters the feeling of control, which is the main factor behind their popularity. The lever was also responsible for the slot machines’ nickname “The One-Armed Bandits”.

The first electromechanical slot was made in 1964 by Bally. Players still needed to pull a lever, but the reels were electrically operated. Called Money Honey, this machine was the first to award an automatic payout of up to 500 coins. It became hugely popular, paving the way for the dominance of electromechanical slot machines, which soon lost the familiar lever.

Fortune Coin manufactured the first modern video slot back in 1976. It utilized a heavily-modified 19-inch Sony television as a display. After receiving the approval from the Nevada State Gaming Commission, it became the favorite slot machine for many players in the Las Vegas Strip.

Another important year in the history of slot machines is 1996 when WMS Industries launched Reel ‘Em, the first game to offer a second screen bonus round. During the 1990s, slots saw a surge in popularity, especially in casinos, generating up to 70% of their income and taking up 70% of the casino floor.

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Online Slots

The mid-1990s saw the development of the first online casinos, which initially offered only classic games, such as blackjack and roulette. Slots soon followed, becoming more popular.

Computer programming removed restrictions that were present with land-based slots. This led to the creation of new types of slots, with new layouts and a wide selection of themes, designs, bonuses, and special features.

New slot developers emerged with some of them becoming the true giants of the segment since their inception. One of the biggest names in the online gambling industry is Microgaming, which has been present in the market since 1994 and whose impressive portfolio includes more than 500 titles.

Jackpot slots also evolved. The first such game was Microgaming’s Cash Splash, whose payouts were nice, but not staggering. Then in 2006, the company launched Mega Moolah, which has since earned a cult status and a nickname “The Million Maker”. This game holds the record for the largest payout awarded by an online slot.

New slot games are released regularly, which provides players with a fresh offering. That way, they’re not likey lot get bored playing. Developers are constantly improving their creations by adding new features and game engines, launching branded slots, and giving their best to outsmart their competitors. We can only guess what the future holds for them.

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