The Evolution of Slot Machines

Slots have asserted dominance in the world of gambling that has seen them withstand the test of time since the nineteenth century. Like any other popular element in the world that has been around for some time, slot games have witnessed the effect of technological advances at a staggering magnitude. The changes that have been made to these games over time are so significant that a slot lover from the time of their invention would be shocked at the slots they see today while the modern gambler would probably be bored half to death if they played the slow games that were the first slot. Let’s take a look at how free slot games came to be what they are today. 

The Very Beginning

The very first definite appearance of a machine that resembles the slots played today popped up back in 1981 courtesy of Sittman and Pitt, which was a company based in New York. The game the firm developed featured five drums that were used to display poker cards. Players were required to spin the reels and win when they landed a poker hand. Instead of the usual fifty-two cards, only fifty of them were included in the game to give the house the upper hand. Therefore, the chances of landing the highest-value hand, which is the Royal Flush, were cut by half. 

These machines were big in bars, and they cost only a nickel per round. The wins were given in the form of food and drinks instead of money like free slot machines do today. Additionally, free slots to play for fun were a foreign concept at the time. The only way that was possible to achieve such was by the pub owner arranging for the house to pay for a spin after several real money ones had been played by a gamer. 

Automatic Payouts

Charles Frey is argued to be the father of slot machines games instead of Sittman and Pitt since the first slot machine was more of a video poker device than it was a slot game. However, it is undeniable that he was the brains behind the introduction of automatic payouts in slot games. It is not definite when this invention came to be, but it is placed somewhere between 1887 and 1895. This function was unavailable in previous releases due to the fact that combinations were too complex for the machine to read. Therefore, Charles cut back the number of drums to only three and replaced the fifty playing cards with the poker suits spades, hearts, and diamonds while including horseshoes and liberty bells. The bells granted the highest payouts in the game when they were landed, which gained the machine its name, the Liberty Bell. 

Back at the time of the Liberty Bell’s entry, laws were so complicated that Charles Frey did not acquire a patent for his invention, which is why it is hard to state exactly when he created it. Therefore, similar machines started popping up from other parties. Even so, Frey’s prowess in the art of their production gained him a lot of clients across the United States.

The Official Ban

In 1902, a law was passed in the United States that saw a ban on the production of real money slots. However, slot companies found a loophole by providing machines that paid in the form of treats like sweets and chewing gum. The poker card symbols were replaced by those of fruits, which gave rise to fruit machines. The sweets and chewing gum winnings were collected in correspondence to the fruit that formed the winning combination. Therefore, if three cherries triggered the win, one would receive a cherry-flavoured treat. It was during this time that the BAR icons which can still be found today in free slot machines for fun and real money came to rise. The symbol is linked to the Bell-Fruit Company, which is responsible for the Operator Bell slot machine that was released in 1910. 

The Entry of Electromagnetic Machines

Since the entry of slot games in the gambling scene up until 1964, slot games were run through pure mechanics. The levers that were placed to the side of the devices were pulled by players after the placement of a stake, which would then prompt the spinning of the drums that were used as reels thanks to the stretching of a spring within the machine. As the spring shrunk to its original size, the reels would come to a halt and reveal a combination of characters. This manual form of play gave players the illusion of being in control, which drove slots to massive popularity heights.

In 1964, Bally Technologies released a slot machine that dropped the use of a spring and ran using electricity. Even with this significant change, the reels were still spun using a lever, which the developer saw too hard to replace since it was one of the most loved things about the games. 

The Birth of Video Slots

Casino floors did not see a video slot up until 1976 when one was developed by the company Fortune Coin, which has since been acquired by IGT. The game was displayed in the Hilton Hotel located in Las Vegas, and after its approval by the Nevada State Gaming Commission, it was all over the floors of casinos on the Las Vegas Strip.

Online Games

The first web slot was introduced in 1996, and this entry has served as the biggest step for slot games since their invention. The very first game was by WMS, and it was dubbed Reel ‘Em. It was also the first free slot machine game with a bonus round. At first, slot games were developed with a lot of similarity to those found in land-based casinos. With time, online gaming software companies began to explore the writing of game code, which saw the release of free slot machines with free spins and other impressive features. 

Parting Shot

Slots have come a long way to become what they are today, and they have grown to offer more than just lucky wins and include entertainment in their gameplay. Gamblers can explore a wide range of these games in the thousands, some of which carry progressive jackpot wins that count in the millions.