Slot Machine History

Slot Machine History

Slots Through the Years

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

Although completely mechanical, with no electric (much less electronic) components, the first Slots looked quite similar to today’s examples. However, the original symbols were different, with fruit symbols appearing later as the entertainment machines started becoming popular.

Charles Fey?s original machines consisted of simple symbols such as bells, stars, playing card images and horseshoes, and were dubbed the “Liberty Bells.” Without knowing it, Charles Fey created slot machine history by revolutionizing the early casino industry with this simple game.

The Liberty Bell Saloon and Restaurant in Reno, Nevada still holds the original Liberty Bell machine. It would award reel spinners a maximum 20-coin profit for hitting the right combination. Soon after its introduction, inveterate gamers agreed that Slot machines would be “the next big thing.”

In 1907, Charles Fey became partners with the Mills Novelty Company and 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, which it named the “Operator Bell.” Early machines were made of cast iron; making them difficult to carry from casino to casino, so in 1915 the first wood-cabinet Slots were seen. The lighter material made it easier for Fey and the Mills firm to deliver the machines to various locations.

The Mills firm soon branched out and, using both mechanical and marketing genius, created more interesting Slot machines for intrigued players. In the 1930s, it 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, and the 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 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.

The best numbers suggest that Slot machines account for upwards of $300 million in cool casino profit, primarily from the nickel and quarter machines that attract the most players. Slot machine history has evolved from Charles Fey?s original cast-iron behemoth of the 1880s to 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 highly corporate giants.

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