Everybody knows them but how many people know the history of slot machines? Well, according to Legal Slots, the term “slot machines” was used for both gambling devices and automatic vending machines. It was not until the 1900s that “slot machines” officially described gambling devices. The British called them “fruit machines” and another popular nickname was “the one-armed bandit”.
The inventor of slot machines
Little do people know that the first slot machine dated way back to 1895. The first mechanical slot was named Liberty Bell, invented by Charles Fey of San Francisco. Slot machines got their three reels from Liberty Bell. Diamond, spade and heart symbols were painted on each reel, plus a cracked image of the Liberty Bell. Three bells in a row meant the highest payoff, a whopping total of fifty cents or 10 nickels.
If you want to see a part of the history of slot machines the original Liberty Bell can be seen at the Liberty Belle Saloon & Restaurant in Reno, Nevada. Other machines invented by Charles Fey were: Draw Power, Three Spinde and Klondike. In 1901 he also invented the first draw poker machine and the trade check separator that was used in Liberty Bell.
Demand for more slots
With Charles Fey began the history of slot machines. When people first saw them the demand was high, too high enough for Charles because he couldn’t build them fast enough in his small shop. Some companies tried to buy out the patent and the rights to produce their own Liberty Bell but the inventor refused. Because of that, in 1907, Herbert Mills, an arcade machine manufacturer from Chicago, made their own knock-off of Liberty Bell, named the Operator Bell. This was the first time when fruits were used as symbols for the reels.
How did they worked
Inside each cast iron body of any mechanical slot machine were three hoops called reels with ten symbols painted on each. You had to pull a lever to spin the reels and when they stopped a jackpot was awarded if three identical symbols lined up.
The age of electronics
This is a crucial point in the history of slot machines, the electronic slots. The most popular electronic slot was the 1934 animated horserace machine called PACE RACES. In 1964 Nevada Electronic built the “21” machine, the first ever all electronic gambling device. Other all electronic versions of gambling games soon followed including one for dice, roulette, horse racing and poker. In 1975 Fortune Coin Company built the first ever all electronic slot machine.