History of Slot Machines

Whether you are into a mechanical three-reel classic or an ultra-modern sparkly online slot, you're into slots all the same. Well, you're not alone. Numbers prove that slots generate up to 65% of any casino’s revenue.

Have you ever wondered where this exciting, fun, and addictive form of entertainment comes from? Read on to find out!

Page contents

It's All About Casual Fun

Since the end of the 1800’s, many types of mechanical machines have spread throughout America. The small stands in the corners of drugstores, shops, and bars providing casual gameplay for the general public. These machines include arcade games, pinball machines, and everyone's favourite slot machines.

While playing arcade games and pinball requires some skill, slots are the ultimate fun for those who just need to relieve stress. You don't have to think: just pull the lever and get rewarded. This was perfect for those at a drugstore looking to kill some time and those chilling at a bar with friends on a Friday night.

Slots: A Brief History

The gambling industry is all about innovation and changing directions. The evolution of the slot machine is the living proof of it. There have been many twists and turns in the history of slot machines. They went from bulky, hand-operated machines at the corner of a bar, into your beloved, mobile-friendly, one-click time killers.

Sittman and Pitt's mechanical machineChapter 1: The Olden Days and the Birth of Mechanical Slot Machines

Everything started in 1891, in New York City, with Sittman and Pitt's mechanical machine. Gambling historians categorize this invention among the slots. However, it was a poker machine with modified card settings for a higher house edge.

At the end of the 1880s, Charles Fey came up with a simpler and more approachable idea. It was The Liberty Bell, the first three-reel slot machine. Failing to patent the machine led to numerous copycats and their unseen popularity in the US.

Chapter 2: What's Up With Fruits?

In 1902, the direct cash payments got banned, making way to other, less "harmless" rewards, like flavoured candy and mint. To make it more theme-appropriate, the manufacturers changed the symbols into fruits to indicate the gum flavour.

Operator Bell by Herbert MillsThe first wildly popular fruit slot, Operator Bell by Herbert Mills, was born.

Chapter 3: Technological Advances

The mechanical slots dominated the market for almost 60 years. Soon, the first electromechanical slots with automatic payouts got into the market. It was the year 1964, and the technology was booming. Bally created Money Honey, the first slot that used electricity to turn the reels.

People were skeptical at first; thus, the manufacturer chose to keep the lever in the beginning. When people got used to it, the producers abandoned the lever. These machines had the capacity to payout up to 500 coins per game.

Chapter 4: The First Video Slot and its Popular Appeal

Fortune Coin Slot MachineFast forward 10 years, and the population was already craving for rapid change. This was the era when TV gained popularity. The screens conquered all homes in developed countries, so it wasn't too weird to replace the slot reels with a TV screen. However, video slots were considered a truly bold invention at the time. A 19-inch Sony TV set continued serving its days inside the first-ever video slot, the Fortune Coin.

When the Nevada State Gaming Commission approved the Fortune Coin for use in the state, it became even more popular with Las Vegas Strip visitors.

In 1996, video slots got an upgrade. WMS released the first video with a second screen bonus round. These slots peaked in popularity, eventually paving the way for today's slots.

Chapter 5: Internet Slots

Internet Slots1996 was a turning point in gambling history. At the same time, when the physical game machine manufacturing reached its historic heights, the internet took the world by storm. The gambling industry, of course, was the first to adopt new technological challenges.

New companies emerged, and the old physical slots manufacturers hired programming teams to re-create their original games in the new environment. The newer entries started pushing the limits of what a computer slot means.

A new era of slot variety kicked in. Now, we have a staggering amount of game variations. They differ in the number of reels, themes, payouts, bonuses, RTP and many other aspects. However, history shows that slots adapt to the latest, most cutting-edge hardware available when their variety reaches a peak.

Try greatest slots online at the best Canadian casinos

Looking Ahead!

Today, slots have already conquered mobile devices. So, what could you expect further?

With some decent estimates, the next technology to fully embrace slots could be the VR. While hundreds of small game developers appear and disappear from the landscape, the slot manufacturing veterans, like IGT and Microgaming, continue writing the next chapter of the slots' history.

Related articles