When you look at the history of slot machines it can be easy to feel somewhat overwhelmed, such is the incredible extent of the journey that these highly popular examples of casino gambling entertainment have experienced. It is funny to think back to their primordial life as little machines in the corner of bars, especially seeing as they didn’t even pay out any cash back then. Instead the prize for a winning spin was more often than not a free drink at the bar… Oh how times have changed, eh?
A series of vital modifications at the tail end of the 19th Century meant that slot machines began to actually give out cash prizes, and this understandably made them a lot more popular in a fairly short amount of time. Since then the slot industry has continued on an upward trajectory, one that seems to grow exponentially by the second as new technological innovations are made. One of the most critical of these has got to be the introduction of video slots in the 1980s, but how did they get there? Let’s find out here or visit Wizard Slots.
Slot machines came from very humble beginnings, so much so that if you put a modern day slot machine alongside one of the first to come out of the US in the 1880s they would be completely and utterly different. The first examples could barely even be called gambling devices, as they didn’t pay out any money and were used more as a game between two people at a bar.
These mechanical creations would often take the shape of a horse race, for instance, on which people would place their bets. As the decade drew on these machines started to look more like the slot machines we know today, but there still wasn’t any instant reward, as winners would have to go to the bar and claim a free drink there, instead of collecting their winnings from the machine itself.
The Liberty Bell Slot
This all began to change, however, one an increasing number of mechanical engineers saw a gap in the market for slot machines, and started making their own more advanced versions. One such engineer, Charles Fey, is widely credited with the invention of the Liberty Bell Slot, one of the first to actually pay out real coins, and one that set the blueprint for so many of the machines that followed.
The Liberty Bell had three reels, and a variety of symbols such as horseshoes, bells and playing card suites. A combination of three bells would grant you the largest pay-out, hence the name Liberty Bell. These machines quickly became incredibly popular, proof that Mr Fey was undeniably onto something.
Charles Fey & The Beginning Of Commercial Slots
And so it happened that Charles Fey began manufacturing an increasing number of slot machines from his California workshop, selling them to bars and saloons across his native state. In little over a decade, for instance, the city of San Francisco was flooded with more than a thousand slot machines produced by Fey, as well as imitations made by rival competitors.
The market for slot machines had well and truly exploded, and it is here, around the turn of the century, that slot machines could first be referred to as genuinely commercial endeavours.
Wrong Side Of The Law
There was one problem, however, and that was that the state of California swiftly banned slot machines completely in 1909. Even before this there was a number of legal problems, something that meant Charles Fey was unable to secure a patent for his machines, ultimately leading to a number of people copying his idea.
Every cloud has a silver lining though, and slot machines quickly migrated across the US after the gambling ban in California, actually serving to spread their popularity even more.
The Golden Age Of Las Vegas Casinos
The post-war period saw a number of gambling regulations being relaxed as states realised there was actually quite a lot of money to be made from the industry. Nowhere epitomises this as well as Las Vegas, and it was here that slot machines reached a whole new level of popularity.
They became all the rage in the city during the 1960s, expanding their profile by a huge amount. Even now the first thing people think of when someone mentions Las Vegas are the vast rows of slot machines in its casinos, testimony to their success in the mid 20th Century.
Cheaters & Technology
With the new popularity, however, came a set of new problems, and the biggest one was the threat of cheaters. Slot machines at the time were susceptive to a wide range of potential cheats, from using a coin on a string to powerful electro-magnets to influence the way the reels spin.
This naturally meant that something had to be done, and in typical human form casinos decided to use technology to aid them. At first they simply used better machine casings to combat these issues, but soon enough a new technology meant they could cut out the cheats once and for all…
RNGs And The First Video Slot
Television screens had been around for a long time before the 1980s, and it was always slot machine developers’ intention to use them in their games, they just didn’t have the capability to make sure the reels landed in random places each time. The invention of the RNG (Random Number Generator) changed all of this though, and soon enough the first video slots were making their way to Las Vegas casino floors.
Age Of The Internet & The Online Slot Explosion
Video slots changed the game in many ways, the biggest of which being that these games were now completely ready for the next big thing: the internet. Oh yes, as we are sure you are all aware, online slots are responsible for the biggest change in the gambling industry the world has ever seen, and it’s all because of the video slot…