Slot machines are the most popular of all casino games. They are fun and easy to play because there is little in the way of prior knowledge required when playing a slot machine. Slot machines, both in land-based casinos and online, adopt different themes and that makes them attractive to players. Slot machines have come a long way over the years and the online slots of today are a far cry from the original slots of yesteryear.
We must go back to 1891 to find the first slot machine and it was created by Sittman and Pitt. They were two entrepreneurs from New York City and their original slot machine featured 50 card faces on five mechanical drums. Players would insert a nickel and pull the lever which would send the reels spinning. The slot machine was based on poker, so if the cards lined up in a winning poker hand, the player would be declared a winner.
Just a few years after the first mechanical slot was created, Charles Fey developed the Liberty Bell. This was the first slot machine in history to boast an automatic payout feature. Rather than the five reels found on the first mechanical slot, Liberty Bell had three reels which made it easier to generate automatic payouts. Three bells would be the best combination and win the top prize, which in those days was $0.50.
Electronic slot machines were in development in the 1940s but for much of the 50s and 60s, the old spring and lever system was in operation. However, in 1963 Bally Technologies introduced Money Honey, which was the world’s first electromechanical slot machine. There were still some levers in use on the machine, but they were mostly for appearance rather than the actual operation of the slot. Featuring what was known as a ‘bottomless hopper’, Money Honey could make automatic payouts of up to 500 coins.
The next major development in the evolution of slot machines came in the 1970s thanks to the introduction of video slots. The mechanical reels were replaced by video screens, and this led to the creation of new features on the slots. Fortune Coin was the first video slot, and it was designed by Walt Fraley in 1975. The slot was complete with a 19-inch Sony Trinitron colour receiver and by the 1980s, video slots were taking over from mechanical slots in casinos across the world.
Thanks to the introduction of the internet, online slots started to appear online in the 1990s. The first online casino was launched in 1994 by Microgaming and many others soon followed. As broadband speed and technology improved, so did the quality of online casino games and today, we have thousands of online slots available to play, adopting a wide variety of themes. Any online casino UK worth visiting will have a selection of slots, ranging from classic three-reel slots to the most sophisticated progressive jackpot slots. Many online slots are now touch screen operated and that means they can be played using a mobile phone.
So, slots have gone from being large, cast-iron machines with a lever to something that can be played on a device that fits in the palm of your hand.