I want to tell you a story about a man whose name is not a household one, but who changed our world; made a contribution to it that each and everyone of us knows, uses regularly, or at the very least has tried a couple of times. His name is Charles Fey and he created the slot machine.
Charles Fey’s given name was August Fey, he was the youngest of 16, born in Bavaria in 1862. At a very young age August was sent to Munich to work, and from there he made the move to America via both England and France. His skills during this period were machine based – machine manufacturer and farm tools producer. Finally, in 1885, August, now Charles arrived in San Francisco and procured a job at the California Electric Works Company, this was very much just a day job though; his real work took place in his spare time and involved his developing of a coin operated machine game with cash winnings. Up till this point, primitive coin operated machines existed but these games did not pay out cash prizes. Charles put the finishing touches on his ‘slot machine’ in 1887, the same year that he was diagnosed with tuberculoses and given only 1 year to live.
Despite the grim prognosis, Fey continued his work on his automated gaming machines. These original models, with an arm to set the mechanism in motion, consisted of 3 reels with 10 symbols – his choice of those symbols have remained to this very day; spades, bells, hearts, horseshoes etc. This first model paid out its load on a line of bells and so Fey’s first machine earned the name “Bell Machine” or “Liberty Bell Slot Machine”.
The popularity of the machines was immediate, mostly with saloon owners. To begin with Fey would produce the machines himself, supplying them to local saloons from which he would take half of the profits of the machine, however by 1907 the demand was staggering and Fey could no longer meet it alone. At this point Charles decided to take a partner, and Herbert Mills of the Mills Novelty Company was his choice. Under the management of this established and esteemed games production company the “Bell Machine” took on a momentum all of its own. Not only did the production increase in terms of the number of machines, with over 30,000 being produced, but the machines themselves grew; in 1910 the “Operators Bell Machine” saw the light of day with double the number of symbols on each reel than the original “Bells Machine”. It was the “Operators Bell Machine” that created the need for more symbols and the subsequent introduction of fruits which would eventually result in yet another name for these machines – the “Fruit Machine”.
Charles Fey lived far beyond the 1 year he was given; he raised 3 children and was devoted to his wife. His creation the, the slot machine, can be seen in the majority of pubs, provides 80% of Vegas Casinos’ profit, and has now found its way into all of our living rooms with online gaming rooms and online slot machines. Charles Fey beat all odds, and produced an invention that enables us to do the same.
By Will Win
Will Win is a professional gambler, ex casino dealer and author. For the best Online Casino Visit http://www.casino-magic.org