Brief History of Slots

Every game has a history of its own and slot machine games’ history can be divided into three major areas namely mechanical, electromechanical and computerized slot machines.

Mechanical Slot Machines

The first gambling machine is believed to have been developed by Sittman and Pitt and this was in 1891 in Brooklyn. The machines used symbols such as playing card faces and payouts which were basically based on poker hands. The machine had 50 symbols all in 5 drums. All these symbols would spin once a nickel was placed and the lever pulled by a player. These first machines did not pay out cash and instead players were given goods from where these machines were placed as winnings. It was impossible to have an automatic payout system due to the many poker hands that were capable of producing winning combinations. The Liberty Bell was the first slots machine as we know it today and it was developed by Charles August Fey who was an immigrant from Vohringen, Bavaria and who is to date regarded as the father of these machines. Charles discovered his passion for mechanical things while working at a farm tool industry in Munich after which he migrated to New Jersey. Around 1894, Fey decided to make his own slot machine which had a few similarities to the nickel in the slot machine that was around since the 1870’s. His was a three wheel machine which he placed in different locations on a 50% rental basis. Charles then built a different slot machine which was named 4-11-44 and which had 3 concentric numbered dials. This game also used 5 symbols namely spades, hearts, horseshoes, diamonds and a liberty bell. This game was mainly based on the popular lottery game policy of the 4-11-44 which was the highest paying combination at that time. This machine also allowed players to have an automatic payout system where players who hit 3 bells in a row on a pay line would win the jackpot.

Electromechanical Slot Machines

Bally Manufacturing was the company which developed the first electro mechanical slot machine and this was in 1964 by the name Money Honey. This machine changed internally by replacing the levers and springs that were used in the Fey machine and also externally where the gaming experience changed such that players could use multiple coins and also had higher jackpots. The electricity also brought about exciting flashing lights and game sounds.

Computerized Slot Machines

The rise in popularity of computers also influenced a design change in slot machines. Here machines stopped using the reels and started using symbols which were displayed after having gone through a random number generator that constantly selects number series that correspond to various symbols on various reels. The random generator starts working when the player pulls the handle where it commands the computer program the specific symbols that will be displayed. The computerized slot machines have also been categorized into two namely flat tops and progressives which differ in their payouts. The flat tops always have a predetermined payout for specific combinations while the progressive have a jackpot that grows at a specific percentage when each coin is played.