Modern slot games featuring HD graphics are a far cry from the classic slots of old. But how did slots come about in the first place?
The earliest slot machine is believed to originate in the first ever poker machine created by Sitt and Pittman towards the end of the 19th century. This innovation worked in much the same way as a slot machine. It contained five reels, a winning payline and poker symbols. This invention is considered to be the model that slots were based on.
Charles Fey was the first person to create a dedicated slot machine in 1887. Fey’s concept was a one-armed bandit machine called Liberty Bell and his three-reel design is now considered to be the epitome of classic slots. The liberty bell was in fact the world’s first jackpot symbol as landing three in a row won the top prize.
The traditional fruit symbols found on classic slots came about in 1907 when Herbert Mills added them to a slot he was making. As it was illegal to offer cash prizes in many areas at the time, slot machines often awarded gum as prizes. This is where the fruit symbols originate from as well as the bar symbol, which is said to have stemmed from the logo for the Bell-Fruit Gum Company.
Not much progress was made until the 1960s when Bally Technologies introduced electrical components to their machines. Money Honey was the first game to benefit from the electromechanical design, which allowed multi-coin bets to increase payouts. The electrical components also meant designers could add flashy lights, which also contributed to slot machines’ surge in popularity.
Then dawned the new day of video slots, the first of which appeared as far back as 1979 when Walt Fraley’s Fortune Coin hit the market. New technology also made it possible to link slot machines and manufacturer IGT rolled out the first progressive jackpot machines in 1986.
Of course, the advent of the Internet had a massive impact on slot games as operators began developing the format to be played online. These online video slots have gone from strength to strength and some are barely recognisable from the early machines. Intricate graphics, bonus games and features such as wild symbols have ensured that slots remain popular with the digital generation.
Neither Fey nor Mills would probably have guessed just how popular and iconic their ideas would become. Over a century later, people are still playing games based on and inspired by their invention, whether it be online or in traditional casinos. Classic three-reel slots are still being made now and are popular with players who love their simplicity and don’t crave the HD graphics and more complicated nature of many contemporary slots.