Slot machines have brought joy to the lives of many and misery to others, however who would have guessed that all those years ago, a simple mechanical gambling machine would become such an iconic object in our society. Known as a slot machine in the United States, fruit machines or ‘fruitie’ in the United Kingdom and a Poker Machine or ‘pokie’ in Australia; it goes without saying that these machines have a long and colourful history behind them. The first slot machine was invented as a mechanical gambling machine based on the card game poker; it was a simplified answer to the problem of how to automate a poker game.
Charles Fey and The Liberty Bell
In 1887 Charles Fey invented a machine with 3 spinning reels and this slot machine had 5 symbols which were diamonds, hearts, horseshoes, spades and the The Liberty Bell, which is how the machine got its name. By replacing ten cards with five symbols and using three reels instead of five drums, made the complexity of reading a win considerably reduced which allowed Fey to devise an effective automatic pay-out mechanism. The biggest pay off for the machine was ten nickels (50 cent) and you get this by matching three bells in a row. The Liberty Bell was a huge success and spawned a thriving mechanical gaming device industry in years to come.
The Demand Increased
The demand for Liberty Bell slot machines was huge. Fey could not build them fast enough in his small shop and that’s when a gambling supply manufacturer came in and tried to buy the manufacturing and distribution rights to the Liberty Bell, however, Charles Fey refused to sell. Because of his refusal, in 1907, Herbet Mills, a manufacturer from Chicago who specialised on arcade machines, began production of a slot machine, a slight copy of Fey’s Liberty Bell in which he called the Operator Bell and it was the first machine to include fruits symbols such as lemons, plums and cherries- like what we see in todays ‘fruities’
Technology Has Evolved the Slot Machine
The video slot machine/ online slot machines are a more recent innovation with no physical object at all and instead is a graphical representation which appears on screen. Since the player is essentially playing a computer/video game, the manufacturers are able to offer more interactive elements such as advanced graphics and bonus games. Since the internet has engulfed our society, you can even play these slot games online and Winklots have a good match up in regards to what’s better- online or offline. Nonetheless, technology has evolved in regards to the way we play slot machines now, even the slot machines you find in pubs, bars and casino now have these spectacular graphics and video game characteristics to them, in addition to this some are even touch screen as well as offering different types of game modes too.
Since the first ever Liberty Bell, it safe to say that the ‘pokie’ has come a long way and who knows what to expect next.