Interesting facts: The evolution of Slots
Posted on April 17, 2013 at 12:04pm
The simple Slot machine has reached dizzying heights of popularity all over the developed world. Whether it’s Brits hitting the ‘fruit machines’ down the pub, Americans playing the ‘one armed bandit’ at the casino or Australians playing Pokies at the bar, it would seem that nothing tastes sweeter than watching those symbols line up and hit the jackpot. Pokies are a huge draw to gaming enthusiasts, and are currently responsible for raking in about 70% of the income of most US casinos. The machines themselves still hold a certain sort of charm, despite having undergone some pretty dramatic changes over the years. In the world of modern gambling, gamers are just as likely to be found playing Pokies online at Spin Palace Casino (read our review here) as feeding coins to the machine down at the local arcade. How did this iconic symbol of the gaming industry evolve from a simple 3 Reel machine to an internationally recognized cornerstone of gaming?
The very first Slot machine appeared in San Francisco in 1887, and was the work of native German Charles Fey. Fey’s Slot machine featured three spinning reels and just five symbols, which are now synonymous with the Slot machine; diamonds, spades, hearts, horseshoes and of course, the liberty bell, from where this early machine took its name. The early Liberty Bell Slot machines were incredibly popular and it wasn’t long before copycat machines started to crop up all over the United States. Within the space of just a few years, Slot machines had become somewhat of a craze throughout the US and more complex versions were starting to appear on the market. A notable reimagining of Fey’s original machine was Sittman & Pitt’s 1891 5-drum, 50-symbol poker-based Slot, which gave players the opportunity to win prizes like drinks and cigars, rather than just cash. The following decades saw the popularity of Slot machines spread across the globe, with prizes varying from packs of chewing gum to hefty cash sums.
Although some early Slot machines had basic electromechanical features, the first truly electric Slot machine was the super popular Money Honey, created by Bally Technologies in 1963, which offered players both an attractive light display and an attendant-free pay out of up to 500 coins.
The late 1970s saw machines with digital displays instead of physical reels take Slots well and truly into the modern world. Video Slots enjoy huge popularity around the world and are the Slot machine format of choice in many markets, especially Australia. Where next for the simple Slot machine? The sky’s the limit.