When Were Slot Machines Developed?

Published 16 Oct 2018, 7:17 a.m.

The desire to gamble and the thrill that you get from not knowing whether you will put your hands on those easy money or lose them all has always been part of the human lives. The slot machines are just another proof that this is correct, as you have to spin the reels to get to the final result which determines whether you are a winner or a loser. The most common question related to this topic is When were slot machines developed, and we have the answer and the person responsible for this right below.

When Were Slot Machines Developed

This process where there is a motion and a clear combination of symbols at the end is what keeps triggering something inside the humans, and it’s been perfectly created by the one and only, Charles Fey.

Fey was working alone on something he had an idea about, and few years after his initial idea, the Liberty Bell was born. It’s the very first one-armed bandit that came to existence in this world, and it was developed in San Francisco, California, the U.S. in 1887.

Many people, however, think that the Liberty Bell was a product completed in 1895 but the first year is considered the birth year of the slot machines.

The Liberty Bell was with a much simpler mechanism, as expected, and it had three spinning reels with a total of five symbols where you could find a Horseshoe, Diamonds, Spades, Hearts and a bell, which is the Liberty Bell and was the symbol that pays out the most.

Before the Liberty Bell, there were similar machines which worked on five reels but with one payline and a strange gameplay that was hard to read. With the reduction of reels and making it easier to read, Charles Fey managed to develop an effective mechanism which was easy to read the complex combinations and implement automatic payment.

At the start, the machine required a human to be sitting next to the machine and pay out each of the winning combinations that the slot players would win manually. This changed in the later versions of the slot game where an automatic payout was implemented and there was no need for human paying out the money won by players.

Liberty Bell Around The USA

The Liberty Bell was a huge success in California, and later on in the United States overall. You would spin the reels, have some fun and maybe win something interesting and suddenly the thrill that we were talking about at the start was there and people felt it and they wanted more. As soon as someone managed to land three of the Liberty Bells on the active payline in the middle of the screen, he would’ve gotten the best prize of the slot.

All of a sudden, a whole industry was born. Charles Fay couldn’t handle the orders, as his machines would reach all the way to the East Coast of the States. The demand was high, and people were constantly playing. Many companies were born to create slot games with different purposes, for example, there were slot machines with colours that were placed in stores and your reward would be the colour that matches the flavour of a chewing gum. The slots were everywhere, and the reward was everything.

Because of this reason, California banned the use of slot machines and even though this would ease up Charles Fey’s job of distributing slot machines all over the states, it wasn’t the case, as more and more slot machine demands were landing on Fey’s address.

There were many Bell machines afterwards, with one of the most popular being the one from Mills manufacturer in Chicago which created the Operator Bell.

This made the machines to quickly spread across the shops, barber shops, saloons, brothels and bowling alleys where the prizes were cigars, chewing gums, lollypops and other goods, as well as money.

Sitman And Pitt

Another answer to the question “when were slot machines developed” is answered here. Coming from Brooklyn, New York, the U.S. it was the Sitman and Pitt which managed to develop another gambling machine in 1891 which was a precursor for the modern slot machine. This was the slot that was the direct ancestor to what we are playing today, as it contained 5 drums holding a total of 50 card faces and it was based on poker rather than fruit symbols which were the case of the Liberty Bell.

The popularity of the Sitman and Pitt slot machine was even greater than the one of the Liberty Bell and very soon after its development, most of the bars in the city had one of the machines.

It was an interesting concept where you need to put inside a coin, choose the denomination and pull the lever. This turned the drums and the people were hoping for a winning poker hand combination.

Other Early Slot Machines

There were a significant number of slot machines developed after the success of these two.

Wookey Hole Caves

The trade stimulator was distributing profits in the form of the chewing gum favours depending on the colour of the combination that we mentioned above was known by the name of Wookey Hole Caves. This machine was the first one to implement the Cherry and the Melon symbol which are still used and taken as one of the main symbols in the slot machines.

This is where the BAR symbol also comes in play, as the company that developed the slot machines was named Bar-Gum Fruit and they wanted to implement some symbol that will describe the company, hence the bar symbol.

Tons of other slot machines were developed, and it needed 6-7 decades to move from what the slot machines looked like to the very first electronic machines developed by Bally Technologies, but that’s another topic of discussion that we have covered in another article.

For now, this is when were slot machines developed and how they looked like. Hope this article was helpful, and if you have any other thoughts or questions, you can use the box below to express yourself.