The origin of the slot machines
The history of slot machines is just over 100 years old. Despite their apparent simplicity, the first automatons were complicated mechanical devices that made a lot of demands on the first developers. It is not just the technical development that is interesting, but also the symbols used – there were solid reasons for using the fruit symbols that are still common today. In the following, I will describe the development from one-armed bandits to modern online slot machines in more detail.
Between 1897 and 1895 – Charles Fey’s first slot machine
The Liberty Bell is considered the first slot machine. Often, however, Charles Fey is named as the inventor of the first slot machine. The sources for this are not entirely clear (1987 to 1995), but it is plausible that Fey worked towards an automatic payout of winnings when developing his “Liberty Bell” machine, which was technically not yet possible with the poker machine because of the many different winning combinations. He then reduced the structure of his slot to three reels, which only had the symbols of the card colours (spades, hearts and diamonds) as well as horseshoes and the bell of freedom. Three freedom bells then resulted in the highest possible (automatic) payout. The machine became a huge success and since Fey did not apply for a patent, the principle of the game quickly became common property and was quickly adopted by other slot machine manufacturers picked up.
1976 – The first video slot
Fortune Coin was the first video slot without mechanics. The next milestone in history was the first video slot (Fortune Coin, 1976), which worked purely electronically and the game was played on a 19 “television. First, the game was set up in California and the Las Vegas Hilton Hotel, and after some fraud prevention modifications, the game was officially approved by the Nevada State Gaming Commission. It then spread to all the casinos on the Strip and downtown. The manufacturer Fortune Coin was taken over by IGT (International Gaming Technology) in 1978.
The triumph of online slots
In the mid-90s, the internet also found its way into private households and the first online casinos quickly emerged (InterCasino, 1996). At first, the range of games consisted of classic casino games such as roulette or blackjack, but it shouldn’t be long before the first online slots were released. But slots also quickly overtook classic table games on the Internet and are by far the most popular games today.
Initially, the style of the slots was based on the machines in land-based casinos and used the same luck or fruit symbols. But the freedom of programming quickly created several types of slot machines with interesting themes or unusual structures. Today there are games with more than 5 reels, some of which show a different number of symbols and offer imaginative free spin with no deposit bonus and special wild features.
The number of manufacturers and their titles also grew with each passing year, as casinoslick.com tell us. While the manufacturers of set-up devices are still quite manageable, there are now over 100 different developers of online slots. Many of them are rather small and only offer a limited range of games, but Microgaming, as one of the oldest software manufacturers for the iGaming area, already has around 500 slots (all playable in jackpots in a flash casino). The total number of all online slot machines can only be roughly estimated and is around 2000.
The jackpot games also regularly reach new record sums thanks to their widespread use on new generation machines. The first online jackpot was Cash Splash from Microgaming, which only allows moderately high payouts. The new stars among the jackpot games on the Internet are Mega Moolah (17.9 million pounds), Mega Fortune (17.8 and 11.8 million pounds) as well as around 15 other online slots with big prizes.