Friday 23 February 2024
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Evolution of slot machines

Like anything else, the slot machines too has a history – a well-detailed one at that! The origins of the slot machine could be traced as far back as the 19th century. Unlike the slot machines you get to experience today, the 19th century ones were very much slower in their mechanical process.

The first ever machine was pioneered by Sittman and Pitt, a company in New York, around 1891.  This machine consisted of five drums along with playing cards, 50 in all. Even in the 19th century, the slot machine was a common sight in many bars. You had to pay a nickel for one playing session. Once you pay that amount, then you need to pull the lever. Suppose you won, the machine back then was not capable of settling your payout. The payout had to be claimed from the bar. There were many other gifts as well such as cigars and drinks offered free of charge.

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The Liberty Bell, another first slot machine recorded in the casino history, had the capacity for automatic payouts. Although Charles Augustus Fey is credited for innovating this machine with automatic payouts, no specific details about an exact date of the creation is given. What Fey did was to make the machine more user-friendly. This was the starting point of what remains today in the industry. Today there are many advanced machines where you can play slot at

Fey replaced the five drums with three reels, and the playing cards with five symbols: hearts, diamonds, spades, horseshoes and a liberty bell. If you have reached three bell symbols, you are the recipient of the highest payout. Probably owing to its capacity of automatic payout, the machine became an instant hit among the casino players. Unfortunately for Fey, he did not register for a patent. That cleared the path for many others to rob and copy his model in the daylight.

At the turn of the 20th century, the slot machine was banned. However, the Liberty Bell did not seem to be affected by that ban. It maintained the manufacture process. However, since the money distribution was not permitted, the Liberty Bell began using fruit symbols. The users had to be satisfied with sweets such as chewing gum. This was as early as 1902. Around 1907, Herbert Mills, another manufacturer, came up with a new machine called Operator Bell. The slot machine was slowly expanding its premises from the bar to other avenues such as shops and salons. Its expansion led way to a good number of losers as well in addition to winners. An interesting story about a loser could be found on this website of the writer’s choice.

During the early stages of the 20th century, the slot machine was purely confined to its automate mode. You were still supposed to haul down the lever. And then it will set the reels in the move. As you haul down the lever, it strains the springs in the machine. Then it will halt the reels from spinning. When you do all that manually, you are in complete control over the machine and its process. Probably why this machine became instantly popular during the early stages of the 20th century even despite the ban. The lever mattered much as it provided the player with the complete control. The lever gave birth to common expressions such as ‘one-armed bandits’.