Video slots are by far the most popular type of gambling game. However, they are also one of the newer ones, as they were invented years, or even centuries after roulette, poker, blackjack, baccarat, craps, and other popular games found in a casino.
If you’re enthusiastic about video slots and want to learn a little bit about their history, you’ve come to the right place. In this article, we will go back to the invention of the first slot machine and see how this game developed over the years.
The Liberty Bell
The first-ever slot machine was called the Liberty Bell, and it was invented by Charles August Fey in 1891. It was a simple machine with three rotating drums, and the goal was to line up identical symbols on all three reels.
This machine was inspired by the first poker machine that appeared four years earlier. Of course, the difference was that the Liberty Bell didn’t follow the rules of poker, and instead established rules that will become the standard for playing video slots that is present even today. The symbols included playing card suits, a horseshoe, and the Liberty Bell.
The Operator Bell
Due to Liberty Bell’s massive success in the United States, many engineers wanted to develop more sophisticated slot stations for mass production. The first truly successful one was the Operator Bell in 1907.
It is believed that this was the first slot machine that used fruit and BAR symbols that will become classic symbols used in video slots almost a full century later.
For decades, slot machines ran mechanically. You would need to insert a coin and pull down a lever to start the spinning mechanism inside the machine. The technological developments after the Second World War brought us television sets, computers, and other electronic devices, and it was just a matter of time when slot machines would start running electronically as well.
Money Honey was invented by a company called Bally, and it featured the first electronic reels. Of course, you would still have to pull down a lever to start spinning, but this was done only because players were already so used to this mechanism.
Today, slot games are not referred to as machines anymore. Instead, the majority of people call them video slots. The first-ever slot game that used a video display was the 1976 Fortune Coin, and it was made by the company with the same name.
Fortune Coin was first placed in the Hilton Hotel in Las Vegas, but it soon found itself in dozens of casino rooms across the country. Video slots were massively produced in the late 70s and 80s to an extent where almost every major Vegas casino had hundreds of them scattered around casino floors.
The next big milestone in the development of slot games came in the 1990s when some of the first online casinos started to hit the scene. Video slots could be played over the Internet, which cut the cost of their production. Instead of building bulky slot stations, game developers could rely on advanced software and create hundreds of different games that could be played on a computer.
A game by WMS Industries called Reel ‘Em was released in 1996, and it featured the first “second screen bonus round.” Slot games were getting more sophisticated over time. Instead of just three reels, you had games with five or more reels, together with a few games that featured cluster systems. Developers started making games with crisper graphics, powerful sound effects, interesting jackpot mechanisms, 50 free spins and various themes.
Video Slots in 2020
Today, there are tens of thousands of video slots that you can play over the web and more than 100 software companies that make them. Apart from improved graphics, video slots haven’t really changed that much from the late 1990s. However, in the last several years, we saw some 3D and VR hitting the market, although they haven’t caught on just yet.