history of slot machines

Slots are certainly one of the true casino classics. No lobby of a bricks and mortar feels complete without a few machines. And the same goes for online casinos too. Let’s learn the history of slot machines so we can find out how these iconic games claimed their place in casino lore.

So whether you play online in places like bet365 (bonus code here) or you like to frequent your local casino, learning the history of slot machines is going to enhance your next session.

Step inside the bars of 1800s New York

Slots got their start in the Big Apple. In the 1800s, strange games were popping up in bars all over the city. And here starts the history of slot machines.

The early slot machines were based on poker hands. You’d pull a lever and wait to see what five cards would pop up of the drum. If you got a good poker hand, you’d be awarded a prize.

However, these machines didn’t automatically dish out prizes. Instead the bartender would give it to you. Sometimes the prizes would be straight up cash, but more often than not, the prizes were drinks or even cigars.

It was around this time that slot machines got the nickname one-armed bandits. Disgruntled customers who didn’t win, would say the games were like bandits with one arm (the lever) making off with their hard-earned cash.

The innovations of the 1890s

Although a relatively common scene, slots machines up until the 1890s were handmade, one-offs. Nothing large scale.

However, in 1891, mass production gets introduced into the history of slot machines by company Sittman and Pitt.

It was also around this time that Charles Augustus Fey discovered that slot machines get some much better when you automate them. With his innovations, the drum was left in the rear view mirror.

And for the first time, the world is introduced to reels and symbols like horseshoes and the Liberty Bell. With the introduction of reel technology, suddenly it was possible to automate payouts. No longer did the bartender have to be involved in prize distribution!

The random combinations needed for these new automated slots were made possible by a simple spring. This would stretch across the reels and result in a fast spin that slows down until eventually it stops.

This is familiar to all slots players today, whether online or in real life casinos.

Prohibition leads to a fruity idea

In 1902, slot machines were banned in much of the United States. But their popularity meant people found workarounds.

Instead of winning cash prizes, the new slot machines would dish out candy. The symbols were all different fruits and if you won, you’d get the candy flavored by that fruit.

To this day, fruits are popular symbols in the world of slots. Plus, this gave rise to their second common nickname, fruit machines.

Electric and video slots roll into town

After decades of the technology of slot machines not changing a whole lot, this are shaken up in the 1960s. Bally Casino introduced the world’s first electric slot in the form of Money Honey.

Not to be outdone, in the 1970s, the Hilton down the strip introduced the first video slot. Played on a 19-inch TV screen, this video slot was a big hit.

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