History of Slots

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History of Slots

An online casino needs a decent selection of slot games to keep its players entertained. Slots are thrilling not because they have any complex rules, but because of the simplicity of their gameplay. All that’s required of you is to set your bet and click the spin button. If you land winning combinations, you get a payout.

However, the exciting video slots we see at online casinos were never that way from the start. These modern machines have a long history that dates back to the creation of the Liberty Bell. If you are a slot enthusiast but don’t know anything about the history of slots, you should keep reading. We have provided you with in-depth information on how these exciting games came to be.

The First Slot Machines

Slot machines date back to the 19th century, when Sittman and Pitt, a company in New York, developed a game likened to physical slot machines in 1891. Instead of spinning reels, the game had five playing drums and used 50 playing cards.

The ten of spades and the jack of hearts were taken out to raise the house advantage. By doing this, the odds of getting a royal flush were cut in half. Wins were paid out at the bar because the machine lacked a straight payout mechanism. These awards include complimentary alcohol and cigarettes.

The game cost a nickel to play, which was one reason why it quickly became popular in pubs and land-based casinos. To win, players must insert their coins into these slot machines and pull a lever. Winning combinations are formed when players get a poker hand.

Charles Fey and the Liberty Bell

It’s commonly believed that Charles Augustus Fey created the first slot machine. The precise year he built his first engine is unknown, but it’s said to have been between 1887 and 1895. Fey designed his gaming machines to facilitate automatic payouts. For this, he simplified the machine’s win-reading process.

He also achieved this by switching out the drums in Sittman and Pitt’s machines and using three spinning reels. In addition, he redesigned the deck of cards so that only the heart, diamond, spade, horseshoe, and liberty bell remain. The Liberty Bell slot machines got their names from the fact that the highest payout was for a combination of three bell symbols.

Fey’s original slot machine gained fame and soon became available at many brick-and-mortar casinos. It was only a matter of time before other slot machine manufacturers copied his creation and reproduced it.

1902 - 1908

During this time, early slot machines were banned. Though Liberty Bell slot machines were still produced, physical cash could no longer be given out for winning these games. That was when the concept of the fruit machine came up.

The operator bell gambling machines were the first of these fruit machines. Instead of the card symbols, they featured fruit symbols like melons, berries, apples, and more. It was during this time that the bar symbol, which was the company’s logo, was introduced.

The Introduction of Modern Slot Machines

Slot machines stayed purely mechanical for many more years. You had to pull down a lever to initiate the game, which would spin the reels. Likewise, to stop the three reels from spinning, you also pull on the lever. The slang term “one-armed bandit,” given to both physical and online slots, originated from the lever. However, things changed in 1964.


Bally introduced the world to electromechanical slot machines called the Money Honey in 1964. Even though the reels were powered by electricity, the game still required a draw of the lever to begin. Without pulling the lever, the game would have been too foreign for participants at the time.

Automatically awarding up to 500 coins, this slot machine was the first of its kind to give an automatic payout worth that much. The game’s success paved the way for more mechanized slots, until these games eventually became the industry standard. Shortly after, the lever was removed from newer versions of these slot machines.

Video Slot Machines

Fortune Coin, headquartered in Las Vegas, designed and built the first video slot machine in Kearny Mesa, California. Its display for the game was a customized Sony 19-inch screen. The Las Vegas Hilton Hotel was the first to offer the game.

After some tweaks to make it less susceptible to cheating were made, the Nevada State Gaming Commission eventually approved the video slot machine. Not long after, it became a leading game in the Las Vegas Strip. IGT purchased Fortune Coin in 1978.

When WMS Industries Inc. released “Reel ‘Em” in 1996, it marked the next significant turning point in the development of slots. It was the first video slot to have an extra bonus round. When the extra round was activated, a new screen appeared on which to play the bonus game. This bonus round had the potential to deliver additional rewards.

How Online Slots Came Along

As the popularity of the internet grew in the mid-1990s, the first online casinos emerged. When these sites were first introduced, they only offered online versions of traditional casino games like blackjack and roulette. However, developers soon created online slots, and casino operators added them to their offerings.

Online slot games, just like land-based slot machines, have rapidly surpassed the popularity of more traditional casino games. Soon, they made up the bulk of the game selection at online casinos.

The first versions of these games looked a lot like traditional slot machines from brick-and-mortar casinos, complete with three spinning reels and fruit icons. However, the advancements in the online gambling industry caused providers to eliminate these limitations, and a plethora of new game genres emerged.

These new games had novel themes or concepts. Today’s slot machines available online feature more reels (five, six, and even up to ten reels), unique and interesting bonus features, and bonus rounds are available. Furthermore, some of these games have free versions that you can play without using your money.

Progressive Slot Machine

Progressive jackpots were one of the most thrilling additions to the slot machine industry since Charles Fey’s Liberty Bell. The first progressive slot machine was launched by IGT in 1986 with the release of Megabucks, and this was quickly followed by a flurry of other progressive jackpot games entering the market.

What makes these games different from their regular counterparts? Simply put, they have the potential to pay massive sums. The prize pool in a progressive jackpot increases over time through the bets of other players. Usually, the longer it takes to win, the more money you’ll get.

The Growth of Online Casinos and Software Providers

There has been a steady growth in both the number of slot machine producers and the variety of games they offer. While there aren’t many companies that make physical slot machines, there are more than a hundred that specialize in making internet slots.

Some businesses are so large that they offer thousands of games, while others are so numerous that they offer only a handful. Let’s look at Microgaming as an illustration. They have been around for quite some time and have one of the largest collections of slot machines (over 500 games).

What is the Future of Online Slots?

The online gambling industry embraces new technology that can make the gaming experience better. So, we’re going to see a steady development of even better slot games that offer a more realistic gaming experience. One of the technologies that software developers will use to achieve this is virtual reality.

VR is still in its infancy, but it’s already making waves in the gaming sector. If VR casinos become possible, slot machine players will be transported to a virtual environment where they can enjoy these games.


Frequently Ask Question

There are no records of how these games got their name in the history of slot machines. However, it's recorded that these were once called the liberty bell machine when Charles Fey created the first slot machine.

Yes, you can win cash prizes when you play slots online. However, you have to be playing for real money for a chance to win actual cash. If you're playing for free, you can't cash out what you win from the game.

You don't have to visit Las Vegas to play slot machines. There are many land-based casinos where you can play these games, though this depends on your location. Better still, you can play these games online.

Both slot machines and video poker machines have similar gameplay. However, video poker is based on the standard poker game, so you get paid based on the strength of your hand.

The earliest slot machines had three reels that moved only when you put money into them and pulled a lever. If you win, you get a payout.