Gambling goes back as far as history can remember and nothing is loved more than the infamous one-armed bandit — slot machines. But where do they stem from? The predecessor to the slot machines we know today was a gaming machine originally designed by Sittman and Pitt around 1891. However, with no automated payout mechanism in place, patrons of the bars or gambling dens were offered cigars or beer in recompense. The machines were rudimentary with suits from card decks used in order to make the slots feel familiar to gamblers. The drums could be changed at will.

Slot machines innovation history

History of Slot Machines

The first slot automated machine was actually invented by Bavarian immigrant, Charles Fey, a car mechanic who named his invention “Card Bell” and later renamed “Liberty Bell.” This amazing machine had three reels as well as a staggered stop. More interestingly so, it had an automatic design, something that has remained in slot machines up until the present date. The original Liberty Bell can still be viewed in Nevada at the Liberty Belle Saloon and Restaurant in Reno. There is some contention within the gambling industry over the exact date of the invention’s inception, but 1895 seems to hold the majority vote.

the first slot machine

The market for slot machines grew in the following years but Fey refused to lease or sell his invention. However, in 1905 a saloon in San Francisco was robbed and a Liberty Bell machine was stolen. As the years progressed, the themes of the slot machines did too. Themes such as the Roman Head, Lion Head, Castle Front and the War Eagle began to come into play. By 1931, gambling was fully legalized in Nevada, showing a huge growth of slot machines between 1931 and 1960.

In 1964 a new one-armed bandit came into manufacture – the Money Honey. This electric machine had new sound effects and was classified as a multi coin machine, in addition to being the first machine to have a hooper. The manufacturer, Bally, continued to add more developments, including bigger hoopers (the holder where the coins got paid out), more reels and extra coins. In 1970, dollar coins could be used, meaning larger jackpots for customers.

More reels came in 1978, maximizing the size of the jackpots. By adding the numbers of symbols to the reels, they reached 25 and thus raised the wagers. Inge Telnaus was employed to be the computer programmer and added a random number generator. Two years later and the early eight slot machines added new features, including bonus games and the linking of jackpots.

In the 90s online casinos made their first appearance, and the industry gathered steam and soon rivaled the brick and mortar casinos, as their integrated software allowed them to offer jackpots in excess of $1 million for people who played at home.

With slot machines now having features such as pick a box, free games and game show themes, today’s slot machines dominate the gambling world. Skip to 2014 and around 80% of all gaming floors are dedicated to slots. Bally Technologies remains one of the largest manufacturers. The development of the ProWave cabinet designed in 2014 boasts a concave screen of 32 inches, which boosts game-play by up to 30-80%.

Today online players prefer demos like free slot games – WebSlotCasino. The goal of such sites – to show all advantages of free slots before doing deposits.

The integration of internet and land-based casinos increased the success of the slots, offering another lift in jackpot value. The slots developed multiple reels and symbols and customers have the chance to win free spins as well as to gamble on a win. The common fruit symbols are used due to the previous use of candy as a prize (the fruit symbols represented the flavor of the candy). The design changed again, with the addition of scatter symbols (which launch the bonus again), wilds (symbols that substitute symbols to encourage wins), and multipliers. Players can now also find cascading reels – winning lines that explode and let new symbols take their place – and multiple paylines.

Online slot machines have without a doubt led the development in the technological frontier in recent years, but the quality of land-based casino slots have also increased. The development of quality land-based slot machine games has led several online casinos such as Viking Slots to integrate popular land-based slot machines in their game selection. With the massive growth and rapid technological development in the online casino business in mind, this is a sign of how far the improvement of land-based games have gone and perhaps a sign of a future for the traditionally land-based games with an even bigger penetration to the market.