A Complete History Of Slot Machines

history slot machines

Slot machines are not just in casinos; they are everywhere in pubs, arcades, and many other places. Besides that, we even find virtual versions of slot machines in online casinos. Of course, the industry was not booming like this always.

There was a time when slot machines were a rarity in our world. If you are looking to learn more about slot machines, you have come to the right place. Here is a complete history of slot machines.

When It All Began

To understand the present state of the slot machine industry, we must look at the past and origin of slot machines. According to many sources, the first slot machine was invented in the late 19th century in San Francisco. Charles Fey was the first person to pioneer this machine, which was called the Liberty Bell.

The Liberty Bell had a similar design to what see in slot machines today. It had a single pay line, three spinning reels, and an automatic payout system. Of course, there has been an evolution of slot machines with time, and today we find five-reel games with more than forty ways to win.

However, the demand for Liberty Bell was significant. Everyone wanted these slot machines, but Fey could not manufacture them quickly because he had a small shop. Because of this, many gambling manufacturers wanted to buy distribution and manufacturing rights, but Fey did not want to sell.

In the 20th century, Herbert Mills started producing slot machines by copying the design and mechanics of Liberty Bell. Mills called this slot machine the Operator Bell. Besides that, he was the first person to place fruit symbols on slot machines, such as cherries, plums, and lemons.

Herbert Mills And The Rise Of Slot Machines

When Herbert Mills began producing these slot machines, there were strict anti-gambling device laws. Because of this, the slot machines by Mill did not give cash as a payout but fruit-based gums. Thus, Mills was the first person to popularize fruit symbols on slot machines.

However, when Mills was producing these slot machines, he included a chewing gum stick image with fruit symbols. But, he replaced it with the Mills company logo to make people familiar with his slot machine brand. After that, the concept of jackpots in slot machines came around 1916 by Mills slot machine company.

The Age Of Thriving For Slot Machines

The real golden age for slot machines was between 1920 and 1933 during the American Prohibition. The bell slot machines were transferring in significant quantities to speakeasies. The slot machines were thriving during this time, and many people began introducing cash and coin prizes.

However, during the 1930s, slot machines revolutionized the gambling world. The activity was gaining popularity even though there was a ban in the entire country. Because of such popularity, Nevada was the first state to legalize gambling in 1931.

The legalization guaranteed a solid ground to slot machines where they could thrive. The Flamingo Hotel in Las Vegas was the first one to install a slot machine in the 40s. After that, Bugsy Siegal, an American mob member, showed the casino industry how slot machines would revolutionize their business for the better.

An Opportunity In Slot Machines

After World War Two, the U.S government needed a way to increase revenue collected from tax to invest in the country. The local states, municipalities, and governments saw that gambling proceeds were a lucrative tax opportunity. That is because gambling was legal, and more and more people participated in this industry each year.

So, the government began taxation on such activities to get more funds. That did not stop slot machine manufacturers, as it led to significant growth the industry had never seen. Such manufacturing also increased the popularity of slot machines among players.

The Graduation Of Slot Machines

Slot machines began evolving as Bally Technologies was the first one to produce Money Honey, which was an electro-mechanical device. The company was famous for producing pinball tables, but they finally progressed to electronic slot machines.

Of course, with the production of Money Honey, many new features and changes came to light. For example, the machine allowed automatic payouts. Besides that, it was the first slot machine ever to introduce a no-bottom hopper.

The machine also delivered payments of five hundred coins without having a slot machine attendant. It also allowed multi-coin bets with significant payouts that came with all kinds of frivolous displays, such as flashing lights and sounds. Such a display was one of the most important discoveries for the gambling industry.

The frivolous display drove out the side lever with time. When Bally Technologies saw how well their machines were doing, they began improving on the features and design. The most important improvement was bringing in more reels and the way in which the machines handled the coins.

Because of these changes, the players could insert more coins in one spin and bet high, which meant that they received a higher payout and jackpot. After such fantastic popularity, Bally Technologies started trading and was the first listed company from the gambling industry.

Bally Technologies had a slot machine market share of more than 90% by the 70s. It allowed the company to increase their symbol numbers in each reel, which decreased the odds for the customer to win money. The maximum bet was raised to $100.

People began noticing that their chances to win had reduced, which made Bally Technologies lose its popular traction. The company realized this and hired a computer engineer to help them raise the jackpot size in the slot machines. The engineer came up with the RNG concept (random number generator concept), which ensured that the outcome was random.

How Video Slot Machines Came To Rising

In the last 20th century, companies began using computer chips inside slot machines. Fortune Coin Company created the first video slot machine in 1976. Of course, the company first created a prototype of the video slot machine.

The first prototype of this video slot machine included a logic computer board and a display. The Hilton Hotel in Las Vegas was the first place to install these new video slot machines for their guests. The Nevada State Gaming Commission approved the video slot machine by Fortune Coin Company.

After the approval, the video slot machine began making its way to casinos in Las Vegas. The video slots were a huge success, and after two years of creating the first video slot, the International Game Technology bought the Fortune Coin Company for its successful video slot machines.

Internet And The Slot Machines

The rise of the internet completely changed the game for the casino industry and slot machines. That is because it allowed people to take part in all sorts of activities with ease. Such an opportunity was lucrative to slot machines, especially the new video slot machines.

Microgaming was the first company to tap into this potential, as in 1994, the company created the first gaming software. During this time, there was also the implementation of the Free Trade and Processing Act, which led to the establishment of virtual and online casinos.

The online casino by Microgaming was launched in 1995 at the brink of the internet revolution. After that, InterCasino followed suit and launched its first online casino in 1996. In the same way, many casino websites began appearing on the internet throughout the decade.

Soon, online slot machines saw a significant rise, and they became one of the most popular games for people. However, the government wanted to regulate this industry, and they implemented an act to control the popularity of online casinos.

The Unlawful Internet Gaming Enrollment Act in 2006 made it illegal for the residents of the U.S to withdraw or remit money from websites that offer online gambling. Many states passed regulations and laws to limit online casinos because of many problems.

What Is The Future Of The Slot Machine Industry?

The various states were passing regulation and act to limit online casinos. That is why we will see another revolution of slot machines. They are becoming increasingly common as you will not only find them in casinos.

Slot machines are not in lounges, bars, airports, and many other places. Even the local governments and municipalities are in favor of installing slot machines in various places. That is because it will allow the gambling industry to thrive and will generate additional revenue for the government.

Of course, we are not also seeing a rise in various technologies of AI (artificial intelligence), such as VR (virtual reality), AR (augmented reality), blockchain, and much more. The gambling industry is also adopting these technologies to revolutionize slot machines.

So, the future of the slot machine industry looks promising and bright as more casinos and manufacturers adopt such technologies to change the way slot machines work. The gambling industry and the local governments are excited about such changes as it is a win-win situation for everyone.

Final Words

If you like slot machines, you must also be excited for the future of slot machines as technology evolves. We are witnessing the biggest shift in our history, and soon we will see many new slot machines and games emerging. While slot machines have seen a stagnant period because once people get used to something, the growth is limited.

However, the tables will turn, and with new technologies, there will be new possibilities the gambling industry can explore. We don’t know how VR, AR, and other realities will work with slot machines, but we are excited to witness this technological revolution. Slot machines have been here for two decades now, and they are here to stay.

We are excited to see another stage in the history of slot machines as this will be a significant change. Of course, casinos and other places will have to increase investments in slot machines to keep up with these changes and stay ahead of the competition.

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