Slot machines often remind us of the Wild West and if not that, we’re reminded of the neon lights of Las Vegas and the massive casinos. Slot machines have been around since the late 1900s and their evolution has taken them from spinning drums with cards, to the interactive videoslots we have today.
The worlds first slot machine
The slot machines most recognized ancestor and inspiration to what was to become the modern day videoslot, was created by Sittman and Pitt in New York, in the year 1891. The machine was constructed to hold 5 drums with 50 cards each, that would spin to create poker hands. This poker machine inspired Charles Fey from San Francisco to build the worlds first slot machine, he built it with three reels and set the standard for payouts on a slot machine where a full row of symbols would make you a winner.
Since Charles Fey also believed that the poker machine was too complicated for the average player to enjoy, where the player needed knowledge in poker hands as well as the odds to make one. So Charles Fey chose 5 symbols, a horse hoe, spades, diamond, heart and the liberty bell. The Liberty Bell symbol was the highest payout as well as the name he would choose for his creation, but even though he was the first, he wasn’t responsible for making the slot machine popular.
The first mass produced slot machine
Charles Fey is today credited for having invented the worlds first slot machine, but it was Herbert Mills, a company based in Chicago that created the first mass produced slot machine named Operator Bell that was released to saloons, bowling halls and brothels during 1907-1908 just before gambling was made illegal.
The fall began when the government moved in on gambling and with new laws making it illegal to run or participate in any gambling, the slot machines all but died out. There was still plenty of activity in underground casinos, where gambling hungry and fortune seeking men and women would come to visit. It was not until many years later and after several failed federal laws, that the government lifted the ban on gambling and instead instituted licenses to allow establishments to run gambling operations.
Videoslot changes the market
After gambling had once again become legal, many companies looked to the old slot machines and wanted to create something new – Bally was the first company to take the step in a daring new direction that would lead to the creation of the modern videoslots. Bally created the worlds first electrical slot machine, it quickly became popular because it offered more payouts, many more reels and rows, and perhaps most importantly – flashing lights.
However when the videoslot was first introduced to the world it was met with suspicion and distrust, mostly because it was entirely electrical and played on a monitor. The gamblers didn’t know if they were just watching a video, or how the reels could possibly spin in the same way as a real slot machine. It took many more years before the videoslots were once again introduced into the market and the popularity increased, the payouts climbed and today we have online videoslots with payouts of upwards 11 million euro (15 million dollars).