The history of slots dates back to 1887 when Charles Fey invented the first slot machine called the Card Bell. Considered today to be a classic 3-reel, 1-payline slot; it did not, however, have the symbols most of you associate with the early slots. The Card Bell had playing card symbols on its reels, however, a year later Fey changed the symbols to include stars and bells and renamed the machine the Liberty Bell. His invention became so popular that he was hard pressed to meet the huge demand imposed by those who had to have this new found invention.
Although Mr. Fey was approached by several gambling manufacturers who wanted to purchase the distribution rights to the Liberty Bell slot machine, Mr. Fey held steadfast to his passion and told them no. But, in 1907 a manufacturer based in Chicago, Herbert Mills, who manufactured arcade machines decided to give Mr. Fey a run for his money. He began producing slots called Operator Bell Slot machines. It was Mr. Mills who designed and implemented the now famous cherry, lemons, plums, and other fruit symbols we all have come to recognize on classic slots. If you’re ever in Reno, head on over to the Liberty Belle Saloon & Restaurant and take a look at the original Liberty Bell slot machine on display.
One-Armed Bandits Gives Way to New Age Electronics
If you’ve ever visited casinos in Las Vegas in the early days, all of them had a lever with which you used to turn the reels. Known as the one-armed bandit because more often than not it didn’t return well on one’s investment, today the one-armed lever has been replaced with buttons. Yes, the electronic age arrived! Today you not only have buttons on classic slots, but you have several variations of slot machines; one more exciting than the other. As technology advanced so did the slot machine offering a sophisticated, animated, interactive, bonus-filled conglomeration of symbols offering higher payout percentages than anyone had ever dreamed possible. What began as a slot machine with a bonus payout of 10 nickels has advanced to unimaginable bonus payouts in the millions thanks to progressive slots. Mr. Fey would have been proud!
Bally Puts Its Slot Forward
In 1964, Bally produced the first electronic slot machine called Money Honey. It also incorporated sound effects, and was dubbed the first multi-coin slot machine. It also had a tray or hopper that coins fell into after a win and later introduced the large tray, able to hold dollar coins. As a result, Bally was the first casino based in Atlantic City in 1978 and, according to records, held over 90% of the slot machine market. With the increase in slot play, Bally’s furthered their success with slots by adding more symbols and increasing the betting limits. But perhaps the single most important contribution made to slot machines was the use of the RNG or Random Number Generator that would revolutionize the slot machine industry. The RNG was invented by a computer programmer hired by Bally’s. And the rest, as they say, is history.