Slot Machine History: Seven Most Interesting Facts

Today, slots are some of the most popularly played games at online casinos.

Slot machines have gone through many innovative changes throughout the years. Here is a look at seven of the most interesting facts concerning the history of slots.

1. The First Slot Machine Was Based on Poker

Today, you can simply go online to play a wide variety of slot games. You will find ones with different themes and features, as well as progressive slots where the jackpot increases every time someone plays the game. Take a look at the best progressive jackpots available online. It was not always so easy to play slots. Indeed, before the end of the 19th century, there was no such thing as slot games.

The first slot machine dates from 1891. It was created by the New York firm Sittman and Pitt and was based on poker. The slot machine had five drums containing 50 playing cards. To win, you had to pull the lever to receive a winning poker hand on the reels.

2. The Liberty Bell Was the Precursor to Modern Slot Machines

A short while later, around 1895, mechanical engineer Charles Fey from San Francisco improved on Sittman and Pitt’s design and created the first modern slot machine. The game had three spinning reels that featured symbols like spades, diamonds, hearts, and the Liberty Bell. The latter symbol gave the machine its name. The pay-out was modest. The grand jackpot was only 50 cents. But the game was a huge success, and the Liberty Bell slot machine soon appeared in bars and establishments throughout the United States.

3. Fruit Symbols Were First Used Due to the Banning of Slot Machines

In 1902, due to gambling laws, slot machines were banned in most American states. However, Charles Fey found a way around the law and produced slot machines that did not pay out monetary prizes. Pictures of sweets and fruits replaced the playing card symbols of the reels. Winners would receive the prize shown on the reels. So, if a player managed to get three matching pictures of chewing gum, the player would win a packet of gum. The fruit symbols became solidly associated with slot machines after a knock-off of Fey’s machine was created by the Chicago based manufacturer Herbert Mills around 1907. The Operator Bell machine featured symbols like cherries, lemons, and plums.


4. Money Honey Was the First Fully Electromechanical Slot Machine

The next milestone for slot machines was not until 1964 when the company Bally created the first electromechanical slot machine, called Money Honey. It was the first slot with a bottomless hopper, enabling the machine to pay-out up to 500 coins.

5. Video Slot Machines Emerged in the 1970s

A little over a decade later, in 1976, the first-ever video slot was manufactured by the Las Vegas company Fortune Coin. The machine used a modified 19-inch Sony television for the display.

6. Bonus Rounds Were Introduced in the 1990s

In 1996, WMS Industries Inc. developed a slot machine with a bonus round. You may be used to playing video slots with bonus rounds today, but introducing bonuses was a major innovation in the 1990s. The WMS Industries machine offered additional pay-outs to winners of the bonus round. Bonuses soon became commonplace in slot machines thereafter.

7. Online Slots First Emerged in the 1990s

Slot games were transformed again in the 1990s with the advent of the internet. For the first time, people no longer needed to go to bars or casinos to play slot games. Now, they could simply visit an online casino and play virtual slot games. Today, slots are one of the most popularly-played games at online casinos. And as technology continues to improve, the slot machine is sure to go through even more changes in the coming decades.