History of Slot Machines: When did the First Slots Appear?

Didn’t you wonder about when the first slot machines appeared? Do you won’t know aboute all from the bellowed fathers of slots Sittman and Pitt to the modern-day electromechanical slots.

Are the gambling enthusiasts interested in the history of the first slot machines? In our blog you will learn all about it, as well as the high-profile fathers of Sittman and Pitt slot machines and the differences between old versions and modern electromechanical slot machines.

The correct analysis of your facts regarding the history of the development of slot machines will give an additional zest to the roller coaster and will be a fantastic start for a conversation with your friends and acquaintances.
So, first check the timeline for the history of slots, and then switch to the infographic below depicting the progress of the development of slots in history.

What were the First slot Machines

Slot machine history may not have a history as long as the gambling itself, but it sure goes back to the times when online gambling wasn’t even an idea, let alone anyone’s reality.

Just two centuries after gambling as a craft and primary entertainment streak was recognised across Europe, came the first slot-like machines to spice up the overall gameplay. It was in 1891, in New York City that the first slot machine was developed by a then-local company Sittman and Pitt. That particular slot machine had 5 drums with a total of 50 playing cards.

Whoever wanted to play the machine at the time could find it in numerous bars across the city; it cost a nickel to play. Similarly to other slot machines in the days to come, the players were to put the money in the machine, apply their favourite slot strategies and tactics and pull the lever to play.

When a player would line up poker hands on the reels, the payout was due. With the idea of increasing the house edge and reducing the odds of getting a royal flush by half, the jack of hearts and ten of spades were removed from the machine.

Unlike modern-day slot machines, these didn’t have a direct payout mechanism. Instead, all wins were non-monetary prizes, paid at the bar. Winners could get cigars, free drinks and other complementary rewards issued by the bar. Oh, how times have changed!

Sittman and Pitt – Founding Fathers

Let there be no confusion – although the slot machines Sittman and Pitt are still called the first slot machines ever created, their concept and mechanism were very different from generally accepted norms.

When watching through modern gaming glasses, the Sittman and Pitt slot machines looked more like poker than the usual slot machine.

When watching through modern gaming glasses, the Sittman and Pitt slot machines looked more like poker than a real slot machine. Although both slot machines and the video poker function describe payouts for various combinations, they differ in that the video poker combinations are based on a deck of 52 (or 53) cards. In contrast, slot machine games do not have a specific link on which they are based. In addition, the first slot machine that we know today allowed automatic payments.

First slot machine: Liberty Bell slot Charles August Fey Charles August Fey is usually considered the creator of the slot machine and the inventor of the first automatic slot machine, we cannot find the exact answer in the documents. According to some notes, Fey created this machine somewhere between 1887 – 1895.

Charles August Fey created the first automatic slot machine somewhere between 1887 – 1895.
Using 3 reels instead of the existing 5 reels and thereby reducing the difficulty of reading winnings for the machine. In addition, playing cards were replaced with only 5 symbols – hearts, diamonds, spades, horseshoes and the freedom bell.

The Liberty Bell slot machine was awarded 3 bell symbols with the highest payout, so the machine got such a big name. Since the machine has gained immense popularity among players, and Fey never filed a patent application for his design, many manufacturers of gaming machines often copied the functionality of this machine.

The first Fruit Machine in History

The tale of slot machine history wouldn’t be complete without Herbert Mills. Although in 1902 slot machines were officially banned, the Liberty Bell didn’t stop from being manufactured. However, as it was impossible for cash prizes to be distributed any further, it was time for the fruit machine to step onto the stage of gambling entertainment and give everyone some candy! Wait, what? Yes, you’ve read it right – these “new” slot machines used fruit symbols, with each win paying out the corresponding flavour of sweets and chewing gum.

The “new” slot machines used fruit symbols, with each win paying out the corresponding flavour of sweets and chewing gum. Mills slot machine history started in 1907, Chicago when manufacturer Herbert Mills produced the Operator Bell, a slot machine that would in just two years’ time find itself all around Chicago salons, shops, bowling alleys and tobacconists. And you know the BAR symbol we all know and love these days? Well, it was introduced right about this time and based on the Bell-Fruit company logo.

Money Honey Slot Machine by Bally: First Steps

Year 1964 and the birth of the Money Honey slot changed everything. A jump from purely mechanical to electromechanical slots was a ground-breaking innovation everyone welcomed with an open embrace but slight scepticism as well. After all, going from machines that gave the impression of a controllable outcome due to their manual approach to an entirely electromechanical construction that was doing everything on its own sure was a novelty.

However, the new slot machine was still started by pulling the lever which instilled a sense of familiarity into the players. After all, lever is why people loved the old-type slots as much as they did, and the sole reason why the slang expression “one armed bandits”, aka bandit machines came into existence.

Money Honey slot released by Bally was not only the first slot with all of its reels operated electrically but also the first slot machine with a bottomless hopper. A bottomless hopper enabled an automatic payout of up to 500 coins which was, in every way, spectacular for the time.

A bottomless hopper enabled an automatic payout of up to 500 coins which was, in every way, spectacular for the time.
Thanks to this game, electromechanical slots became hugely popular! Ultimately, the lever got removed from all new slots altogether.

Fortune Coin by Fortune Coin: impressed

When it comes to the gambling world dynamic, stagnation has never been an option. A decade after Money Honey slot was released, the first true video slot was developed, marking year 1976 the year video slots were born.

A decade after Money Honey slot was released, the first true video slot was developed, marking year 1976 the year video slots were born.
The first video slot was manufactured by Fortune Coin, a Las Vegas based company and it was, expectedly, first available in the Las Vegas Hilton Hotel. For display, the game used a modified 19 inch Sony TV, and it was like nothing else of that type seen up to that point.

Shortly after its first release, the video slot machine got approval from the Nevada State Gaming Commission and became hugely popular in the Las Vegas Strip. Just two years after its release, Fortune Coin was acquired by IGT.

How the First slot Appeared with the Bonus Round of the Second Screen

If you’ll notice, the history of slots is filled with significant twists, turns and upgrades that have led gambling in a very interesting direction. The year important to remember is definitely 1996. This is when the first video slot was released, and it was the first slot to feature a second screen bonus round.

In 1996 the first video slot was released, and it was the first slot to feature a second screen bonus round.
The slot was named “Reel ‘Em”, and it was a huge success! This video slot was the first to feature a second screen bonus round which showed a completely different screen once displayed. Players could also win additional payouts that could be won during this bonus round.

Released by WMS Industries Inc, this video slot may have set the basis for the rapid flourishment of slots in general, making them the most popular entertainment across casinos. In fact, they got so popular that they took up 70% of the available floor space at casinos and grew responsible for around 70% of a casino’s income!

The Development of Online Slots

When the Internet appeared in 1983, it came with a huge stream of unusual content, and very few of us expected such changes. With this change, a number of platforms began to develop, including online casinos. The world’s first online casino InterCasino appeared in 1996 and changed the history of online casinos. In the same year, this casino took its first real money bet this year, marking the official start of what we know today as online gambling.

The first ever InterCasino online casino appeared in 1996 and changed the history of online casinos.
At first, only classic casino games were shown, reminiscent of games in land based casinos. However, soon after adding online slots, online casinos turned into gambling hotspots.

Like the scenario in land-based casinos, slot machines quickly became more popular than traditional casino games in the online environment, which quickly led to their complete dominance in the online gambling market. For some time, the slots remained similar to ordinary slot machines both in style and in the type of symbols and the number of reels.

As soon as computer programming removed the restrictions, the era of high-quality and modern online slots began! Before we found out, there were non-standard layouts in the slots, such as:

  • 5 reel slots;
  • many unusual and colorful themes;
  • innovative bonus rounds;
  • almost an endless number of different characters and special game functions.

And to this day, the number of slot developers continues to grow from year to year, providing players with an incredible range of slot machines for enjoyment. Currently, both small and large game providers are represented on the market. Some of them, such as Microgaming and NetEnt, attract attention with their quality of game development and an active sense of innovation.

Infographics showing various slot machines from history, including Liberty Bell, Operator Bell slot machines, Money Honey and Fortune Coin slot machines, Reelâ € ™ Em In and the growth of online slots

The Advent of Collectors

Once the online casinos took dominance and mechanical slot machines got replaced by electromechanical slots, the old type of slot machines were fully removed from the usage. But, where did all these old slot machines go?

  • Some of the places the old slot machines now find themselves residing are:
  • Casino basements, where they are kept as antiques
  • At private collectors’
  • At businesses that re-sell slot machines to collectors
  • Workshops, where they are either salvaged for parts or sold as scrap

These days, avid slot machine collectors are willing to pay a hefty dime for their slot machine collection to get another item, and it is estimated that an original Sittman & Pitt trade stimulator goes for thousands of dollars. For the most part, you can find private collectors on eBay and similar platforms.

At the End

It is in human nature to enjoy provocation and anticipation that, hopefully, get followed by gratification called “winning”. The history of slots development is a fantastic example of how our primary instincts and processes haven’t changed through centuries, and that the only thing that has, indeed, changed are our appetites. They’ve grown. We hope you’ll enjoy every next slot spin you make, and that you now feel better, knowing what hides behind your favourite online fun!

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