Slots are great fun and can offer some huge prizes but the amazingly rich, developed slots and progressive games you now find in Vegas and at top online casinos have come a long way since the early days of the first slot machines. Here we take a look at the history of slots and how they have developed over time.
Slots, slot machines, fruit machines (UK), pokies (Australia) – call them what you will, these games are loved the world over. The very first slot was created in good old Brooklyn though, way back in 1891. Whilst today players can win millions of dollars (the biggest ever win was almost $40m!), back then the poker-based slot devised by Sittman and Pitt would dish up a free beer, or perhaps a cigar, claimed at the bar!
Shortly after a simpler game called Liberty Bell, after one of the five symbols used, was created by a San Francisco man called Charles Fey and because it had fewer winning combinations automated payment was possible, with a top prize of 50c for three bells! That very first machine is now housed in the Nevada State Museum and for a long time the machines changed little, using a mechanical lever to spin three reels.
The early machines remained quite basic and were massively popular but in 1963 Bally created the first fully electromechanical slot, Money Honey, removing the need for the traditional side lever (the lever gives slots one of their other names, the “one-armed bandit”).
The next major breakthrough came in 1976, with the first ever video slot, using a modified 19 inch Sony TV! In the 1990s video slots moved forward even more with the addition of bonus rounds on a totally different screen and these were, in essence, the forerunners of modern slots that feature at online casinos and slots sites.
As computer technology and the internet have advanced games have become more and more detailed, with sensational graphics, brilliant sound, advanced features and bonuses and big movie tie-ins with blockbuster hits and cartoons. In bricks and mortar casinos and online, slots can now be linked to create huge progressive jackpots, firms offer 3D slots and evermore advanced, complex and enjoyable games.
Where slots will head next is anyone’s guess, perhaps 4D and virtual reality will feature, whilst jackpots are almost certain to continue to explode. Whatever happens, slots are here to stay and will be a lot more exciting than waiting for three bells, bar symbols or cherries!