History of Slots: Past, Present & Future
While many casino games have similar elements and chronologies, Slots Machines are unique in every way. But even as their popularity has increased exponentially in the last half century, most fans of the game still know precious little about its development.
More than a few players have found themselves asking, “how do Slot Machines work?”, and more generally, “what are the origins of Slots play as we know it today?” It's so simple to sit down and start playing that the origins of Slots – namely the time, effort and imagination that have made them so popular and so prolific - are often overlooked.
Slots history began in America, but these days the whirling, whistling behemoths that are the hallmarks of the casino industry can be found in every corner of the globe. To show our appreciation for this classic game, Casino Bonus has put together a time line of Slots history.
Slots History: Let’s start from the very beginning….
Slots history begins with bar games. The original inventors simply taped cards or pictures to drums and used a lever mechanism to start them spinning. If a player got three like symbols, he won food, booze or other small prizes.
At the end of the 19th Century, a California inventor named Charles Fey took the first step in what would prove to be a long history of Slots. Fey replaced the traditional deck of cards—which created too many winning combinations to allow for automated payouts—with a set of five symbols: diamonds, hearts, horseshoes, spades and the Liberty Bell that earned the game its name. In 1907, Fey partnered with the Mills Novelty Company, a move that allowed for the mass production of the machines.
Slots History: First Casino Slots
The Mills Novelty Company perfected Fey's original design. They replaced its clunky cast iron exterior with a lighter, cheaper wooden one that made it easy to ship the machines across the country. These changes paved the way for the first casino Slots.
In the 1930s, they were a regular sight in gambling halls on both U.S. coasts. When Bugsy Siegel opened the Flamingo in Las Vegas in 1946, he filled it with hundreds of casino Slots. It was a move that would advance Slots history in the world's most notorious gambling town.
Slots History: How do Slot Machines Work?
In the last 50 years, the technology behind these games has advanced rapidly, thus pushing Slots history forward by leaps and bounds. In 1963, Bally's introduced the first electromechanical versions. These games were more reliable and paid even the biggest wins automatically.
In the years that followed, electromechanical machines quickly usurped the simple wooden Mills Novelty games, and before long even electromechanical Slots gave way to computer Slots. These games further simplified the paying and playing process but also allowed for fun new extras like bonus games and progressive jackpots.
Slots History: The advent of computer Slots
The introduction of computer Slots (also called Video Slots) revolutionized the game. The first multi-line games appeared, allowing players to bet on dozens or even hundreds of possible lines and to win with combinations made vertically and diagonally.
Bonus Slots featured elaborate animations and interactive games. Progressive jackpots were tied not only to banks within a single casino, but to similar machines around the world, and the top prizes quickly grew from a few thousand dollars to a few million dollars. Now playing and winning Slots could literally be life-changing.
Slots History: Internet Slots
In the late 1990s, another critical turning point in the history of Slots occurred; namely, the first internet Slots were introduced. These were an integral part of the early popularity of online gambling and remain one of the industry's biggest draws.
As with their live casino counterparts, the first online versions were simplistic when compared to the games we play today. As more online casinos were developed, newer and better software was developed too. Before long, internet Slots players could pick and choose between hundreds of titles and game types.
Slots History: The Future
Today millions of people enjoy playing Slots in live casinos and from the comfort of their homes. Every month new titles are announced as the casinos fight to come up with bigger and better game themes and options. Many pop culture references have been incorporated into the Slots craze, and the games remain an icon within the gambling industry.