Slot machines are popular draws in casinos whether they are online or at land-based venues. Slot machines can be of the older style operated by spinning reels activated by a handle on the side. They may also be one of the newer video slot machines. Despite these new innovations in slot machine design, the slot machine has actually been in existence for a very long time.

At the latter part of the 19th century, the first slot machine was created. A Californian by the name of Charles Fey is given the recognition for the invention. He dubbed his creation the Liberty Bell. Its name was taken from the Liberty Bell symbol that could be found on the reels within the slot machine. A spin with all three wheels landing on the Liberty Ball was the largest payout for these machines. Not only did this first slot machine include the Liberty Bell symbol but also spades, hearts, horseshoes and diamonds.

Slot machines became wildly popular and were produced in large numbers to meet this demand. However, at the time gambling was illegal in many locations. In an effort to abide by the law, some slot machines were made to dispense gum rather than money. In these adapted machines, the reels featured different illustrations of fruit. These pieces of fruit represented the chewing gum flavours that could be won. Surprisingly, these symbols still exist today on many slot machines even though they no longer give out chewing gum.

Later in the 60’s, the design of the slot machine underwent another change. Electromechanics were applied to slot machines by the Bally Company. By upgrading the slot machine with this technology some of the slot machine functions normally run with the assistance of attendants could now be done much more simply. For example, payouts no longer required the presence of an attendant. The new design of the slot machine also no longer required the inclusion of a side lever, but some remained as an extra option.

The next wave to influence the slot machine design was the integration of video gaming with slot machines. This occurred in 1996 when the introduction of the original video slot machine occurred. Reel ‘Em, this first game, featured a theme as well as a bonus round. This type of design still is widely popular today.

By Hollie Wilcox
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