The slot machine was invented in the United States in the late 19th century. The popularity of the slot machine took off immediately, and it hasn’t stopped. Today, slots are the most popular gambling game in offline and online casinos throughout the world.
Charles Fey, the Father of the Slot Machine
The slot machine was invented by Charles Fey in 1887. (Some gambling historians place the date as 1895; clearly, more archival research is needed to resolve this controversy.) Fey was a German immigrant working as a mechanic in San Francisco, California. His first slot machine, which he called the Liberty Bell, was made of cast iron and had cast iron feet, complete with toes and everything. Inside the heavy casing were three reels; on each reel there were pictures of playing cards, horseshoes, and the Liberty Bell.
To play the slots game, a player inserted a coin into a slot and pulled a big mechanical lever. The reels would spin around for a while, and eventually come to rest. Three Liberty Bells in a row paid out the big jackpot: ten nickels. This is obviously the source of the game’s name but the name “Liberty Bell” was also derived from the bell that rang when the player hit a winning combo. Today, even in online slots, a ringing bell still indicates that a player has hit the jackpot.
Slot Machines in the Twentieth Century
Slot machines were soon declared illegal and in order to distance themselves from anything that smacked of gambling, slot machine owners changed the payouts to non-monetary offerings such as packs of gum, and changed the symbols on the wheels from playing cards to pictures of fruit. In the UK, a slot machine is still referred to as a fruit machine and cherries are still a commonly seen symbol on many of today’s slots. The Bell-Fruit Gum Company was the first to mass produce machines that dispensed gum for prizes and the packet-of-gum symbol morphed into the bar symbol we often see in slots games today.
The twentieth century saw numerous changes and innovations in slot machine games. The heavy cast iron casings were replaced by wood, which were intricately decorated. Many new symbols were added and different slot machines highlighted different themes.
Over the course of the century, the mechanical parts of the slot machines were replaced by electric, and then electronic, parts. These newer machines allowed bigger bets, had bigger reels, and were able to accommodate more coins. As a result, the new slot machines were both more profitable for the casinos and more fun for the players.
But the biggest revolution in slot machine history came in the 1980s when the random number generator (RNG) came into existence, changing slots forever. The random number generator is essentially a small computer that simulates spinning reels through a computer program, doing away completely with mechanical reels. These computerized reels were much larger than mechanical reels and they were no longer activated by pulling the lever of the “one-armed bandit” but rather by the push of a button.
Online Slot Machines Are Born
The growth of the Internet brought about the creation of online slot machines in the 1990s. This was a very natural development. After all, now that the land-based casinos have switched over to computerized slot machines with Random Number Generators, the slots game in an online casino is exactly the same as the game in a land-based casino. And, just as in a regular casino, winning slot machines pay out in real money. The main difference is that when you play slots online, you do not have to get dressed up and travel to the casino and you do not have to contend with the crowds hanging around at your slot machine.
Because cyberspace is infinite, there is no limit to online slot machine games. Wild Jack Online Casino has over 200 online slot machines, including 3-reel slots, 5-reel slots, progressive slots, and UK-style online fruit machines. The online slots player has the option of downloading the slot machine software to his computer, or playing flash slots on his Internet browser. Each online slot machine has a unique theme, which could be travel to exotic locations, popular movies or television shows, or exciting action and adventure. Everyone can find his own favorite slots game online. And new new online slot machines are developed and introduced every month, so there is always another chapter being written in online slot machine history.