History of Slots

Learn about the history of slot machines, including Charles Fey, at Casino Edge.

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The idea of winning money from a machine that spins symbols came from a pair of New Yorkers in 1891. The game was based heavily on poker and consisted of five wheels displaying playing cards (the jack of hearts and ten of spades had been removed to reduce the chances of hitting the big hands). The game was an instant hit, and soon almost all bars and other places of leisure stocked at least one machine. The machines were heavy duty, requiring a lot of maintenance and even an attendant to check for and issue prizes.

Slightly later on in the nineteenth century, the first slot, named "Liberty Bell", was invented by a mechanic in San Francisco named Charles Fey. The slot had only five symbols, which were horseshoes, hearts, spades, diamonds, and a bell. Liberty Bell benefited from an automatic payout system that was made possible by Fey's innovative three wheel design.

Liberty Bell proved so popular that Fey couldn't keep up with production for the demand of the game, which led to it being copied by a string of engineering companies, giving birth to a new industry of mechanical gaming devices.

It wasn't until the early 1960s that a completely electro-mechanical slot machine was developed by an American company called Bally. Named ”Money Honey”, the machine was capable of paying out 500 coins at a time without any human assistance.

Aided by the advancements in micro technology in the 1990s, the first video slot was introduced in 1996. This game was the first to include a bonus round that takes the player to another screen for an extra chance to win money. The slot, called “Reel Em In”, was developed by WMS Industries from Illinois and went on to become the most popular game played in online casinos.