Slot Machine History

Slot Machine History

Slots – The early years

Slot machine history began in 1887, when a mechanical engineer in San Francisco invented the first Slot machine. This was Charles Fey. These slot machines were handmade and Fey arranged for them to be placed in bars and small gambling halls. Fey charged 50 percent of the take as the rental fee.

The most noteworthy thing about early slots is that they looked so similar to todays slots. The slots were completely mechanical, and with no electric (much less electronic) components. Although they seemed similar, the original symbols were also different. The familiar fruit symbols only appeared later as the entertainment machines started becoming popular.

The original slot machines

Charles Fey’s original machines consisted of simple symbols such as bells, stars, playing card images and horseshoes. These were dubbed the “Liberty Bells.” Without knowing it, Charles Fey created slot machine history. Charles Fey changed the casino floor forever with his introduction of this simple game.

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You will find the original Liberty Bell Slot Machine at the Liberty Bell Saloon and Restaurant in Reno, Nevada. Players of the slot reels would receive a maximum 20-coin profit for hitting the right combination. The slot machine was a huge success from day one. Top gamblers of the day agreed that Slot machines would be “the next big thing.”

In 1907, Charles Fey became partners with the Mills Novelty Company. TOgether they began to produce a line of new slot machines. The first was the Mills Liberty Bell. In 1910 or 1911, the Mills Company created the very first fruit-symbol machine. This was named the “Operator Bell.” Early machines were made of cast iron. This made them difficult to carry from casino to casino. As a result of this weight issue, the first wood-cabinet Slots were seen in 1915. The lighter material made it easier for Fey and the Mills firm to deliver the machines to various locations.

Slots – Huge Growth in the 30’s

The Mills firm soon branched out. Using both mechanical and marketing genius, they created more interesting Slot machines for intrigued players. In the 1930s, they worked on different designs for different machines, creating a whole range of “themed” Slots. These colorful, eye-catching, even slightly wacky machines attracted entirely new legions of players. The result of this is that 1930s and 1940s history witnessed a veritable slot machine boom throughout the United States.

It is said that Slot machines were first used in the larger, corporate casinos to keep wives entertained. This was while their husbands, the high rollers, would hit the tables. To the casino owners’ surprise, however, Slot profits climbed higher than that of the table games. Today, Slots are the prime moneymakers for casinos, making up to 70% of some casinos’ income.

Slot Machines Today

The best numbers suggest that Slot machines account for well over $300 million in cool casino profit. This comes primarily from the nickel and quarter machines. It comes as no surprize because these machines attract the most players. Slot machine history has evolved from Charles Fey’s original cast-iron behemoth of the 1880s. Now we find today’s colorful, noisily entertaining, solid-state slot games. This supremely profitable entertainment machine has earned much of the credit for turning 20th and 21st century casinos into huge corporate giants.

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