Gambling is a timeless recreational activity, with its history dating back over many, many centuries. Back then, of course, people weren’t having a flutter on which football team would win the Champion’s League, however card games were an immensely popular pastime. Then, towards the end of the 19th century, the world was introduced to the first ever slot machine.
Today, when we think of slots, our minds tend to conjure up images of the incredibly impressive, high quality video slots offering 3D graphics, realistic sound effects, astounding visuals and are often buzzing with bonus features. The ambitious software developers are in continuous competition with one another to bring us unique, innovative and futuristic gaming experiences. The modest one-armed bandits are certainly a thing of the past, with online slots booming in popularity – visit and play the best ones here.
What did it take to get to this era of modern gaming? Just how different was the world’s first fruit machine, and who was its inventor? If you’d like to learn more about the history of one of our favourite pastimes, stick with us as we give you a brief introduction.
At the end of the 19th century, the first every slot machine was invented, with credit due to Charles Fey, an inventor from San Francisco, California, USA. Charles Fey designed and rolled out Liberty Bell; a brand new, mechanical one-armed bandit, with 3 reels and 5 rows. It is thanks to Liberty Bell that the bell symbol has become such a prominent symbol on slot machines, even to this day.
Liberty Bell did not pay out winnings automatically. Instead, winners had to cash in at the bar for their prize, which in the earliest days, was often alcoholic drinks or cigars.
All was going well for Liberty Bell and one-armed bandits… until gambling was banned, that is. Now, the slot machine developers had a problem. With it being illegal to play slots for money, developers changed their appearance slightly and made them more ‘child-friendly’. This is when the fruit machine appeared, with slots reels filled with colourful fruits – as iconic today as ever before. Playing for money was illegal (though not avoided completely), but people could play for prizes such as flavoured gum.
Turning to Tech
As technology really began to advance and gambling was once again legal in some areas, society saw the introduction of the new, electronic slot machine. This changed the industry entirely, as casinos and pubs were filled with huge, flashing, vibrant machines that were electronic and self-paying. The electronic fruit machine became hugely popular.
Video Slots & Online Slots
Video slots eventually took over the first electronic machines. These consisted of screens akin to video games – another increasingly popular pastime – and added an additional element of fun and endless possibilities to the original slot games.
Of course, the internet was really taking off by the end of the 1990’s and online casinos were born. Naturally, slots transitioned into online versions of themselves, and brought along another boom in the gambling industry. Packed with amazing graphics, more themes than you could ever imagine, bonus features galore and ambitious narratives, online slots are more astounding than ever. However, the heart of the fun remains by spinning those reels and matching up symbols – just as simple as Liberty Bell back in the day.