From “one - arm bandits “to online games: history of slot invention
The first slot machines differed greatly from their modern counterparts. The only thing that still unites them is the idea they carry: gamblers have to line up a winning combination out of the random symbols they get. Easy rules and exciting gameplay turned slot machines into an extremely popular entertaining service offered by the majority of contemporary gambling houses.
Poker slot machines
The first machines based on coin insertion were introduced in 1880. Generally, they resembled a standard poker game, had 5 reels and 50 playing cards. Traditionally gamblers inserted coins into a slot machine, pulled the handle (arm), and watched the reels spin. In case of winning, thе payoffs looked quite odd: gamblers could ask a barman for a free cigar or a pint of beer.
One - arm bandits
The next stage of slot evolution is represented by one-arm bandits. Basically, it was an invention of Charles Fey, known as “father of the slot machine”. The history argues, that the first slot machine invented by Charles Fey was introduced in 1894. The second slot, invented in 1895, was called 4-11-44. Precisely these gambling machines were called one-arm bandits because they had a handle or an “arm” that was used in order to spin the reels.
Already in 1898, Fey introduced his first slot machine with an automatic payment system called “Liberty Bell”. In case of getting three symbols of Liberty Bell in a row, a gambler gained a jackpot accounting for 10 five-cent coins. The invention turned out to be so popular, that despite the official ban imposed on slot machines, Fey still had hundreds of orders for manufacturing.
Another stage in slot evolution was marked by the introduction of “fruity” machines. Standard card symbols on the reels were substituted by fruit images such as cherries, oranges, watermelons, apples and bar symbols. Initially, the payoffs in such slot machines were compensated by fruity flavored bubble gums. Such payoffs were widely used not just for fun, but also as a way to avoid problems caused by various anti-gambling laws introduced in the majority of the states.
The first electromechanical slot machine was invented in 1964 and carried the name of Money Honey. Due to its advanced mechanisms, the slot was able to payoff automatically and intake around 500 coins without technical support. In 1996 appeared the first video slot that contained a bonus game called Reel'Em on the second screen.
Gamblers have a wide variety of slot machines to choose from, either classical versions or online ones. Slots might have different quantity of reels or pay lines, bonuses, and symbols. The majority of slots are thematic, but some of them still use the classical symbols. The most widespread slot machines include classical 3- reel, 5- reel video slots, progressive jackpot slots and bonus slots.
The history of online slots dates back to 1994, when the state of Antigua and Barbuda signed a Free Trade Agreement for the commercial activities in the Caribbean region. This document enabled the companies from all around the world to open online casinos legally. The first online casino was opened in 1995. In order to provide gamblers with technical support, a famous Kahnawake Gaming Commission was created in Canada in 1996. Since then a lot of players turned to gambling online, but in the same year, the USA ratified the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act that imposed a ban on gambling online. Nevertheless, the statistics arguably proves that an average casino gets 70% of its income from slot machines.