History of the Slot Machine in the US

Slot machines or fruit machines, as they are known in England, have been around for over one hundred years. This is because of the excitement that they bring to the player. With each individual pull or game, there is a chance of hitting the life changing jackpot. The first slot machine was the liberty bell which was invented by Charles fey a German immigrant who worked as a mechanic in San Francisco in 1899. All slot machines both at online and land based casinos have descended in some way from the original liberty bell machine.

The Liberty Bell slot machine had three spinning reels. Diamond, spade, and heart symbols were painted around each reel, plus the image of a cracked Liberty Bell. A spin resulting in three Liberty Bells in a row gave the biggest payoff, a grand total of fifty cents or ten nickels. Calculating odds in those days was easy. 3 reels with 10 potential stops give the following odds: 10 X 10 X 10 = 1000 combinations. Only 1 of those combinations yielded the big jackpot.

In 1902, Slot machines were banned in many states. Charles Fey then had to get creative. He changed the symbols on his machines and started offering candy, drinks, and kingkong pg gum as prizes. The owners of the machines that were already out redecorated the wheels with pictures of the gum and fruit instead of the card suits. Cherries have remained a constant on slot machines even today, and the sticks of gum eventually changed into the bars that you still see on a lot of common slot machines.

Slot machines were not really popular until the 1970’s in casinos. The older machines were limiting, because the biggest reels had only 25 different stops, which gave 15,624 to 1 chance of hitting a jackpot. The jackpot had to pay out less than that in order for the casinos to make enough profit for the machines to warrant that kind of floor space.

Then the pinball machine company Bally, invented a new slot machine that had both electronic AND mechanical parts. The newer machines also allowed for bigger bets and larger hoppers which could hold larger payouts. This made machines even more profitable.

The random number generator became popular in the 1980’s and everything changed. The random number generator is basically a mini computer that simulates the sinning reels from a computer program. This changed the entire face of casinos. The reels could be much larger than the actual reels, since they were powered by a computer program instead of a mechanism. The spin arms became unnecessary, because the spin button activated the random number generator program and the machines paid out a preset percentage.

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