The Evolution of the Slot Machine

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Slot Machine Reels

Slot machines are one of the most popular casino games there is and there is a huge variety of them to choose from. Something that you might not realise is that slot games have been around since the late 1800s, although the very first machines were quite different to the modern online slots we know, love and play at our favourite online slots sites today.

But who designed the first slot machine game and how has the game evolved over time? Here is the timeline of the slot machine’s evolution:


The very first card machine

Before we look at the first slot machine, it is helpful to know what came before it. In 1891, the first poker card machine was invented by the company Sittman and Pitt. The machine was a big innovation of the time and had five drums and fifty card faces.

With this game, the player would put their money into the coin slot and pull a lever that would spin the cards on the drums. The machine had no automatic payout, if the player qualified for the prize, this would be given by the owner (usually a bar) and might be a free drink or a cigar.


The Liberty Bell

A short time later, a man named Charles Fey from San Francisco shared the invention that he had been working on. The Liberty Bell was a slot machine with three spinning reels and five different symbols.

Unlike the Sittman and Pitt machine, this new slot machine had an automatic payment mechanism. This made it particularly popular with bar owners, however rather than selling lots of the machine Charles Fey would make them to rent out to bars and entertainment venues.

Fey did not apply for a patent for his design so it was not longer until other manufacturers were copying the design and releasing their own version of the slot machine. For example, the Operator Bell was developed by Herbert Mills from Chicago in 1907 and was more advanced than Fey’s Liberty design.

You could find this machine in many shops, bowling alleys, tobacconists and entertainment venues. Slot machines remained mechanical for a few decades until the electronic slot machine was first brought to the market.


Electronic slot machines

Then in 1964 the very first fully electric slot machine was released by the company Bally. Named the Money Honey, this machine was a step up in the slot game experience for players of the game.

The Money Honey can still be found in museums today. Despite not needing one due to its electrical function, the machine retained the slot lever in order to be familiar to players of the mechanical games.

It was able to make automatic payments of up to 500 coins, which was convenient for businesses with the machine and an exciting edition for players. Later versions of the electronic slot no longer had the lever as players became more used to the modern game.

From the 1970s, we began to see the first video slot games in casinos and entertainment venues. One of the first developed was a game by the company Future Coin, which used a modified 19-inch Sony TV as a monitor.

This game was first available at a Las Vegas hotel and after some modifications it was approved by the Nevada State Gaming Commission. Following this, it became widely available and very popular – particularly on the famous Las Vegas strip.

More video slot manufacturers emerged, and video slots have become one of the top gaming machines in casinos around the world, it is estimated that they bring in 70 percent of a casino’s revenue due to their popularity.


Online slot games

The digital revolution and the rollout of the World Wide Web in the 1990s made way for a new type of slot game experience – online slots. From 1996, the first online casino games including poker and then slot games appeared on the internet for all to play.

The first online slot games were fairly basic in design and functionality; however they were enough to gain the internet of traditional casino game players, many who quickly embraced this new experience which allowed them to play from the comfort of their own home.

While there isn’t a huge number of slot machine manufacturers, there are now hundreds of online slot game developers worldwide. They have produced many variants of the game and new themes and features are released on a regular basis.

There are now more than 5000 slot games available to play online. These games are ideal for those looking for fun, simple casino games with low minimum bet amounts. With technological developments including AI, it will be interesting to see how online slots evolve in the years ahead.

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