The Evolution of Slot Machines

Throughout the years, slot machines have become increasingly popular, allowing players to enjoy hours of fun whilst having the chance to win cash prizes at the same time. From the historical ‘One-Armed Bandit’ to the video slots that occupy a large section of many online casinos today, these games have witnessed a surge in popularity across the world.

This article will discuss the history of these machines and their progression from land-based games to internet gaming sensations.

When Was The Slot Machine Invented?

The first slot machine as we might know it today can be traced back to around 1891. Known as the ‘One-Armed Bandit’, this slot was invented in New York by Sittman and Pitt. With five drums acting as reels and a lever on the side to set them off, it had 50 card symbols to land. As is the case with modern fruit machine slots, they were commonly used in bars across the country.

The First Automatic Slot

Not long after the invention of the ‘One-Armed Bandit’, the first automatic slot was invented by a man called Charles Fey in California, in 1895. With just three reels, this slot was widely regarded as running on a much simpler mechanism and only had five reel symbols.

Named the Liberty Bell, this first automatic slot could be seen as an influencer for some modern video slots today that still use three reels and a minimal amount of symbols.

Reel Symbols

Fruit symbols have long been associated with slots and this perhaps stems from 1907 and the invention of Herbert Mills’s slot machine. Called the Operator Bell, Herbert Mills created it to rival that of Charles Fey.

Despite the evolution of slot machines and reel symbols being comprised of just about anything, many video slots still choose to use classic fruit symbols. The likes of Double Bubble, one of the most popular video slots around, draws on classic features and symbols while still providing players with a modern spinning experience.

Slot Machines As We Know Them

In 1963, Bally Manufacturing managed to produce a slot without a side-mounted lever. As the first electromechanical slot machine, it could reward coins automatically without an attendant to help. Called Money Honey, this slot machine paved the way for electronic games of the future.

The Introduction Of Video Slots

Although Bally Manufacturing managed to bring electronic functionality to the slots scene around 13 years earlier, the first real video slots were invented in the mid-70s in California. Fortune Coin Co developed video slot technology in 1976, mounting a display on a slot machine cabinet and gaining approval from the Nevada State Gaming Commission.

Video Slots Today

The video slots we know today and their place in gaming can be traced back to the 1990s and the launch of the first online casinos. In 1994, the first online casino launched featuring a range of video slots to play.

There are currently hundreds of online casinos at which to play thousands of video slots. They’re provided by a number of software suppliers and seem to span across all types of categories and genres.

The chances to win huge cash sums are ever-present, more so with the introduction of progressive slots. With these games, some are linked up to wider networks, allowing prize funds to grow at a rapid rate and regularly reaching the millions.

The History Of Pinball Machines

Pinball machines have a complex history. The roots of the modern-day pinball machines that you use in your local café come from games such as croquet and billiards, which constitute of guiding a ball to a precise location by hitting them with an instrument. However, the real spiritual ancestor to modern pinball machines was the game of Bagatelle. Developed in France during the 18th century, the game consisted of getting balls into the holes on one side of the board using a stick or a cue. The surface of the board was inclined, and obstacles were set in front of the holes to provide a more challenging experience. Many of these features have been adapted and can be seen in modern pinball machines.

In the 19th century an inventor named Redgrave took the design of the Bagatelle game and improved on it. One of his additions, still visible today, is the plunger: a device which launched the ball up an inclined field. However, once the ball was released from the plunger the user could not interact with the ball further, as flippers for the pinball machine had not yet been developed. This lead to individuals gambling on the outcome the ball would face. As a result, pinball machines were banned in many parts of the United States, including in New York City from 1940 up to 1976. The ban on the machines was ended in a famous case where Roger Sharpe claimed that the balls could be controlled by skill (with the addition of flippers) and were not solely based on luck. On a pinball machine present in the courtroom, he announced where he was going to hit the ball and proceeded to do so successfully.

The 1930s saw much innovation in terms of the design of pinball machines. The machines now included limited electronic functions such as basic sounds and the ability to propel the ball without the user’s force. Several new features were introduced at this time as well, such as the tilt mechanism and free games. These new features were groundbreaking for those days and sparked a renewed interest in pinball machines. The “Humpty-Dumpty” pinball machine was the first pinball machine to include flippers. This meant that users could now play a ball for a greater period of time and introduced the whole aspect of skill and controlling the ball while playing pinball.

However, with video games being developed in the 1980s, they were quickly set aside in arcades to make way for the innovation provided by the video game sector. Many companies which had made their fortunes on manufacturing pinball machines were forced to close. It was only in the 1990s that pinball machines made a comeback, bringing exciting innovations to the machines such as a complex displays and sound systems.

Yet the turn of the millennium was a turn for the worse for pinball machines, and the sales reported by many manufactures were falling dramatically. Most manufactures were once again forced to close. Today, Stem Pinball is the only remaining manufacturer in the industry. We will have to wait and see whether they are able to bring innovation to an industry which has had so many ups and downs.