Slot machines (roller) are 111 years this year! Indeed, Charles August Fey invented in 1898-99 and who filed the patent in 1905 of the first roller machine called the Liberty Bell. August Fey
August Fey was born in the 2nd of February in 1862 in a small village in Bavaria (Germany). It was the 16th child of his family! At the age of 14 he discovered that he was fascinate by mechanics with one of his brothers, Edmund, who worked in a small factory in Munich.
August wanted to escape the German army and his father by following the example of his uncle (Martin Vollman) who immigrated in the 1850s to New Jersey (America). He left home at 15 and immigrated to France. He earned money by doing various jobs that allowed him to move to England the next five years where he worked in a manufacturing company of nautical instrument.
Having enough money, he crossed the Atlantic and landed in New York in the family of his uncle. He didn’t like the weather of this region, then, he decided to go to California.
He arrived during the summer of 1885 in San Francisco where he worked in different mechanics company. Soon, he discovered that he had tuberculosis and the doctors gave him less than a year to live…. This does not prevent him from finding a permanent job in the California Electric Works Company at 25 years old. Fey got married to Mary Volkmar, a native of California, and had 3 daughters and one son. In 1889, he decided to americanise his name to Charles Fey.
Influenced by the abundance of automatics slots in San Francisco, Fey decided to build its first machine in 1894. It was a machine with only one rotating disk: HORSESHOE was very similar to those made by Gustav Shultz (MAS largest manufacturer in the USA).
The same year, Fey and his colleague Theodore Holtz left the California Electric Works Company to create their own factory which would be the competitor of the one they were working for and decided to make telephone, telegraph and electrical equipment. This company will be based in the same area as the factory of Schultz slot machine, and of course, they would make some mechanical parts for machines for Schultz.
In 1895, Fey built in the basement of his house the “4-11-44” based on a popular lottery. This machine had 3 concentric dials and the maximum combination was $ 5. This machine was placed in a bar and became so popular that Fey decided to make more. He decides to spend all his time to create and build machines. In 1896, Fey created his own company on Market Street in San Francisco. He left his first factory to Holtz. For 9 years it will manufacture slots. Fey quickly understood that the slots were limited in mechanical combination and payment. In 1898 he produced the first 3-reel, “The Card Bell” then quickly modified in 1899 by the machine recognized by all as the modern machine “The Liberty Bell”.
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