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A Brief History of the Slot Machine

The slot machine is one of the defining features of the casino. Whether you are playing in a brick and mortar casino or online, the slots are usually the first thing that catch your eye and your ear. They are heavily promoted because they are so popular. But, have you ever wondered why this is? Slots, as we know them, are a relatively new creation, but casinos have been around for ages.

A brief look at how the slots of today came about can be helpful for allowing us to understand the game better and gain a deeper appreciation of casino play. Here, let’s take a brief look at what a slot machine is and how it came to be the game that we all know and love.

According to historians, Charles Fey is credited with inventing the first modern slot machine in 1895. The machine was called the Liberty Bell and was based on a popular lottery game that was played in San Francisco at the time. Fey was an engineer and electrician in the early days of the industry. His Liberty Bell proved to be so popular that he was able to begin his own company in 1896 and began manufacturing slot machines on a much bigger scale.

The Liberty Bell gave birth to the machine that we now know as the “one-armed bandit.” This became a staple in backroom casinos throughout the West. They spread further and further East over the coming years. Early slot machines were referred to as one-armed bandits because they had a single pull lever that was used to trigger the beginning of each spin. The term bandit referred to the fact that there was a cost involved with playing the game.

That’s really what separated the Liberty Bell from similar games at the time. Poker machines had already been in place, but the Liberty Bell was the first to automatically reward players with a cash prize when they struck a winning combination.

Over the next several decades, slot machines evolved and became more and more complex. However, until the creation of a computerized system that was reliable and able to be mass produced inside of the machine, slot machines were limited in what they were capable of. Electronic-based games began seeing playtime on casino floors in the 1960s. The video slot game officially emerged in 1975 with a game called “Fortune Coin.” This game bared little resemblance to the video slots of today, though. In fact, Fortune Coin was almost a flop because many gamers did not trust the video sequences to be in their favor. They thought that the game was a scam. Video slots didn’t really catch on for another five years afterward.

The installation of computer code that makes sure that payouts are awarded when they are supposed to be is what makes video slots what they are today from the money perspective. Graphics have continued to improve, but it’s the coding and security that really makes them reliable for us on the playing end of things. The blockchain—the technology that is behind cryptocurrency—is even being used in games to ensure that they are even more reliable than they once were. This could be very beneficial to the gamer and create a much better experience. There are even rumors that VR will soon be used in slot machines!

Today, the slot machine tends to be video based, although this will likely change as VR improves. Rather than the random chance of three mechanical reels lining up to activate a jackpot prize, there is a complex series of algorithms at play behind the video that you watch. In that manner, the game can be even more random and accurate than ever before. This can make it so that the games are more in your favor, if you choose the right games to play. Whether you’re located in Michigan, or somewhere else where slot play is legal, knowing a little bit more about where the games that we play can give us more appreciation for them, and help us to have a little bit more fun in the process.