Slot machines have a long history. They’re not as old as gambling, but they are surprisingly old. In fact, they go all the way back to 1895, when Charles Fey of San Francisco came up with the idea. With his experience in mechanics, he created a machine known as the Liberty Bell. It was a game played by pulling levers at either side of the machine which put the reels into motion and brought them to an abrupt stop.
If the player saw three bells, it meant they won the jackpot.
Since then, the concept hasn’t changed! The games might be playable online, they might have fancy graphics, and they might be available on your smartphone, but the concept remains exactly the same according to Casino Vibez.
In the early 1900s, the games became so popular that many states in America actually chose to ban them. Out of fear that people would use them too much, or that they would potentially cause disagreements, the machines were made illegal and people discouraged from using them – but it was too late. People already had the bug and wanted to continue playing.
Fey continued innovating on his original idea, and so did the copycats. Instead of displaying playing cards on the machines, as they originally did, Fey and others started using different shapes. They chose candy and fruit instead of hearts and diamonds, and the Liberty Bell was replaced by a stick of gum. If a player lined up three sticks of gum, they didn’t win money, but a stick of gum instead.
This meant that players weren’t falling foul of the law and could continue playing the games simply for the thrill of it. It was a wholesome way of circumventing the ban and allowed people to play a game that was way ahead of its time. Really, it was a precursor to videogames. It’s no wonder people loved it!
Because Fey and his copycats chose to use pictures of fruit instead of the bells, the machines soon became known as ‘Fruit Machines.’ The term is still used in many parts of Europe, though in the United States, they are more commonly knowns as ‘slots’ or ‘reels.’
It was another 60 years before real changes were made to the machines. Until the swinging 60s, people were playing the classic fruit machine games with levels on the side. By then, they were gambling again, but the introduction of an electromechanical version reinvigorated the industry. After another 20 years, the machines weren’t even mechanical at all, but completely electrical.
Fruit machines had no moving parts but used screens instead. With all the flashing lights and the symbol drawing users in, these games gave people the same experience but allowed them to simply press a button to spin the reel instead. These are the machines you’ll see in many big casinos to this day, or in bars and pubs across the United Kingdom.
Digital Slots, Random Numbers, and Online Games
When people realized that random number generators used in computers could be used for games, that changed everything. In video games, it meant that people could enjoy completely unique experiences on the same simulation over and over again, and in casino slot games, it meant the mechanics could be removed completely and slot games could move over to consoles, computers, and eventually, your phone.
Random number generators also allowed game developers to create the progressive jackpot machine. This is the kind of slot machine that you find in most casinos. They are connected to multiple different machines and every time someone puts a coin into the machine, the jackpot grows and takes into consideration the money inside every one of them. Progressive jackpots just keep getting bigger and bigger if nobody wins it, meaning you can win huge sums of money from multiple machines.
Not only was this possible in casinos, but it was ported over to digital games. Players could suddenly enjoy slots on their game consoles and computers, but with the Internet came the possibility of gambling. Instead of playing these games just for fun, as they did in the early 1900s, users could start placing bets and winning money again.
Online slots started to become popular in the early 90s. Slot machines quickly became the most popular offering from online casinos, with multiple software developers picking up the idea and developing their own games. Within ten years, the slots landscape had changed completely with websites innovating all the time to try and attract new audiences. It went global, and eventually spawned a huge variety of games that diverted away from the classic three-reel game.
Today, people play five-reel games, 3D games, sci-fi and fantasy-themed slot games, and even enjoy 100 pay lines or more. In the space of just a few decades, a game that was invented in the late 1800s continues to grow in popularity but stays true to the same basic concept; spin the reel, and you have a chance of winning!