Slots, slot machines, pokies, fruit machines, one-arm bandits, no matter what the preferred name is in your part of the world, slots have been capturing imaginations and entertaining people for more than 120 years. Before we explore what modern video slots have to offer, let’s take a brief look at the history of these legendary entertainment and gambling machines.
The Birth of Slot Machines
The first variation and the grandfather of modern slots was developed by Sittman and Pitt from Brooklyn, New York in 1891. Their gambling machine had 5 rolling drums, with playing card images on them, and the aim was to form a poker hand with the various symbols when the drums stopped spinning. Player’s didn’t win money for a winning hand, but instead won prizes that the owner of the establishment would award the player, such as beers, cigarettes and cigars.
Then, in around 1895, the first true slot machine, with reels and automated coin payouts, came onto the scene. It was invented by Charles Fey from San Francisco. The slot had 3 reels with five symbols being diamonds, spades, hearts, horseshoes and a Liberty Bell. The slot became aptly known as the Liberty Bell machine. Within 10 years, the Liberty Bell was so popular that many other manufacturers popped onto the scene and copied the Liberty Bell to make their own variations.
In the early 1960s, a casino provider called Bally, which is still in existence today and is a powerhouse in the world of slots, introduced the first electromechanical slot, called Money Honey. Then, in 1976, a company called the Fortune Coin Co launched the first true video slot, which was encased into a wooden cabinet and had a Sony TV built into it for the display. The new slots would employ an RNG (random number generator) to randomize the results of each spin, instead of the traditional mechanical reels. Very quickly, the new video slots became a hit with Las Vegas casinos and in 1978, IGT (International Gaming Technology), another heavy-hitter still today, bought the Fortune Coin Co and their technology.
Over the next few decades, slots became one of the most popular forms of gambling, which spurred manufacturers to start developing more and more features, in order to secure themselves deals for the growing multi-billion-dollar casino industry.