Before the 20th century, all types of vending machines were not referred as ‘slot machines’ that we hear so often now. In the early British parlance, a slot machine was also referred to as ‘fruit machine’. In other parts of the world, they were commonly referred to as ‘one-armed bandit’.
In 1895, it was Charles Fey, a resident of San Francisco who was a car mechanic by profession, designed the first ever slot machine. The slot machine designed by him was called ‘Liberty Bell’ and it had three spinning reels. These reels were painted with images of Liberty Bell and symbols of Heart, Spade and Diamond. To start the game, a player had to set the spinning reels in motion. And when the reels comes to a halt, if three Liberty Bells formed a configuration, then the player was adjudicated as winner.
The present day slot games like Tiki Island are a far cry from the first slot machines that was developed by Fey. For players, who’d like to delve into the history of slot machines and take a look at the first slot machine, they can head to Nevada and walk into the Liberty Belle Saloon and Restaurant.
Charles Fey’s Other Slots
Spurred by the success of the Liberty Bell slot machine, Fey forayed into the business of manufacturing slot machines. The other slots, which he created included the Klondike, Draw Power and Three Spindle. His machines were hired by various saloons. But since he had limited resources, he could not meet the growing demand for slot machines from different parts of the country.
The Operator Bell
Fey subsequently faced competition in the form of ‘Operator Bell’, which was largely modelled on the lines of Liberty Bell. It was Herbert Mills, from Chicago who in 1907 resorted to large scale manufacture of Operator Bell. Herbert Mills used the symbols of Lemon, Cherry and Plum on the spinning reel, which prompted many to refer to the slot machine as, ‘Fruit Machines’. Thus, in the early 20th century, the slot machines began to get popular and were installed at various recreational places.
The Working of Slot Machines
Like the Tiki Island slots, the earlier slot machines were simple to operate. A player only had to pull the lever placed at the side of the machine to set the spinning reels in motion. The machines originally came with three reels. 10 symbols were colourfully displayed on these three reels to give the game a decorative appearance. Once the reels were set in motion, the players anxiously wait for the reels to halt. If on the reels, three or more same symbols appeared, the player was declared a winner. Thus, it was not only exciting and rewarding to play the slot games, it was very simple too!
The Evolution of Slot Machines
The development of technology resulted in the slot machines being modified. From being a mechanical instrument, the slots turned to electrical in 1934. However, it was only in 1975 that the first full-fledged electronic slot machine was designed. In 1964, the slot machines were provided with electronic spares!