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Slot machines have been around for more than a century. The very first models were created in the late nineteenth century. These featured only three reels with twenty symbols. These are the traditional one armed bandits we all know so well. After their invention they continued to undergo constant evolution. The first models were obviously completely mechanical, these were replaced by electronic ones when the technology became available and in the later half of the twentieth century they were updated again with the release of video slot machines.

This is an astonishing level of growth considering that gambling was outlawed in the United States for a sizable portion of their history. The industry has nevertheless continued to grow and has made a seamless transition to the online realm as well as having to adapted to all the technological advantages that the past century has seem.

Obviously slot machines are games of chance, with the main attraction being the possibility of winning big jackpots for a relatively small wager.

Slot machines work by making a game out of a random process created by a random number generator. Generally there are three different varieties of slot machines:

  • One armed bandits: These are the traditional mechanical slot machines of old, with a single line of three reels spinning round to determine whether a player gets the jackpot or not.
  • Video Slot Machines: These came out in the eighties and were a more complex, fully electronic version of the older mechanical one armed bandits. They featured multiple play lines and bigger jackpots.
  • Finally we have the online slot machines of today which make up the cornerstone of the marketing campaigns of almost all online casinos on the web. They are generally more interesting due to the more advanced graphical interfaces they now use and have much larger jackpots due to the number of players feeding them.

Brothers Caille created the first ever slot machine back in 1889. The machine was called Black Cat. The slot design that has come to be subsequently associated with the iconic one-armed bandit was built in the same period by Charles Fey. His version was the now ubiquitous three-reel machine. This machine was called Liberty Bell by Charles Fey and was the more successful of the two machines, which was subsequently copied by many other companies. The original Liberty Bell machine is still around today and is on display at Liberty Belle Saloon & Restaurant in Reno, Nevada.

In 1907 Herbert Mills put the Bell type slot machines that Charles Fey invented into mass production. They were then quickly placed in tobacconists, bars, brothels and bowling alleys all over the United States. This was the birth of the obsession that slot machines have become for the general public. The next generation would come out in the 1960's where the purely mechanical mechanisms of the first one armed bandits were replaced by electro-mechanical devices that were more reliable, cheaper to produce and maintain, and yielded a more involving gaming environment.

Then in 1963, Bally Technologies brought a fully electro-mechanically operated line of slot machines called the Money Honey. These newer electromechanical models gave way to the fully electronic machines of the 1980s and 1990s. These were by far the cheapest to make and maintain as well as to reprogram, they were attractive with brightly colored lights and buttons and were the generation of slots that came immediately before the current online full graphic interfaces of the Internet.

Today we have a situation where the biggest form of online gambling is indeed online slot machines. This is because a great deal of money is spent on developing ever more attractive and immersive online slots games due to the fact that casinos find it very profitable to have these games operational for players to try their luck at in-between playing other games. They are also the most heavily promoted games in terms of online bonuses and are used to attract new players to online casinos. We have seen that as the technology has gone from fully mechanical, to electromechanical, to fully electronic, to digital slot machines have become better, their jackpots have grown bigger, and they are probably the most popular today than they have ever been in the past. This is a good indication of the way many other things are migrating online and tapping in to the online revolution. Bricks and mortar casinos may soon to be doom to become historical dioramas if the current trends continue unabated.


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