Everything you wanted to know about the history of Slot Machines: From New York in 1891 to modern day online casinos
Slot Machines are such an important part of gambling culture now that it is hard to imagine a time without them. Now they can be found online, in the corner of most bars across the world, and even in Penny Arcades for kids to play with.
Slot machines have captured the attention of gamblers for nearly 200 years now. Let’s take a journey back in time to see what the original slot machines were like.
The Invention of Slot Machines
Slot machines are one of the very few inventions whose appearance hasn’t changed much over the years.
The original slot machine had everything that we associate with the invention – the pulling arm, the money slot, the jackpot sign, and the spinning wheels. The only thing that has really changed since the 19th century is what is happening on the inside.
The earliest slot machine has been traced back to New York City. In 1891 a company called Sittman and Pitt launched the first machine. It cost a nickel to play and quickly became popular in bars across the city.
The slot machine had 5 spinning drums, each with 10 cards on it (50 total cards). To increase the house’s chance of winning the ten of spades and the jack of hearts were removed from the machine. This made the odds of getting a royal flush minuscule.
At this period in time, the money put in the slot machine was collected by the bar at the end of the night. There was no payout chute in the machine, instead, winnings were collected at the bar. Money jackpots were not given yet. So, instead, players could win free food and drinks from the slot machine.
Elsewhere in America, another man was working on his slot machine invention at the same time as Sittman and Pitt.
Charles Augustus Fey is now known as the father of the slot machine, as his prototype introduced many of the features that we are used to today.
Firstly, Fey’s machine still had 5 drums, but it only had three spinning wheels. Instead of using cards, Fey decided to use symbols – he used hearts, diamonds, horseshoes, spades, and a liberty bell. Three bells were the jackpot winning pattern, so Fey named his machine the Liberty Bell.
At the turn of the century, Fey’s company moved away from machines that paid out money, to fruit machines. Lining up three of the matching fruits would give you gum or sweet of that flavor.
The Evolution of Slot Machines
There was very little change in the world of slot machines until the 1960s when the first electromagnetic slot machines were sold – the very first was named Money Honey.
The Money Honey machine was entirely electric and could pay out a jackpot of up to 500 coins automatically. The manufacturers decided to put the arm on the machine even though it was not necessary because they were worried customers would get confused.
In the 1970s the first slot machines with an eclectic screen appeared on the market. It was tested and cheat-proofed in Las Vegas before being rolled out to the rest of the world.
By 1996, slot machines were responsible for over 70% of the money casinos were making. They also took up around 70% of the casinos’ floor space at this time.
When people came into casinos they were opting for the slot machines overplaying card games with dealers or the roulette wheels.
Slot Machines Today
While slot machines can still be found in the corner of bars and on the floors of casinos – where they are really thriving is in online casinos.
In 1994, Microgaming began developing the software that would eventually lead to the first online casino being launched in 1995.
This original online casino came with slot machines and a poker table.
Since then things have got a little more sophisticated and slot machines have gone through some of the biggest changes in their entire history.
Now, it is very unlikely that you will find the same slot machines in any casino. Each site offers its own uniquely themed slot machines with special jackpots. It is also very common for online casinos to offer free daily spins on their slot machines.
For a site with a large range of online slots – visit here.
Although a lot has changed aesthetically about the shot machine, they still function on the same basic premise as they did in 1891 – rolling a series of symbols or cards at random in an attempt to win a jackpot.