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Slot machine fans, this post is for you. Have you ever wondered how slot machines got their name? By this definition, slots gaming pioneers invented the first machines in the s.
Bars and saloons in the Old West offered them. It involved punters dropping a coin in the slot to witness two toy horses racing or something similar.
There were a few different iterations of slot machines, such as the machines developed by New York-based Sittman and Pitt.
This game cost a nickel to play and had five drums which would show up. Each modification helped them to become more enticing to gamblers, which is why slots are so well-loved today.
We will explain how the first slot machines worked, why those famous fruit symbols became associated with slots, and how online casinos are changing them again.
You might be wondering what year the first slot machine was invented. There is some debate among historians because many similar machines were all popular around the same time.
It is hard to know precisely when the first slot machine came out because it is difficult to define which machine was the first slot machine.
The answer may change depending on your definition, but all of the earliest slot machine variations were invented between and When a player inserted a coin, the horses would begin to race.
Some machines used a balance scale. If your coin could make the scale tip, it would distribute the coins that had previously been connected.
It was similar to the coin pusher games that are still available in arcades today. The saloon environment encouraged wagering, and it was convenient to leave the machines on the bar top without taking up much space.
It did not take long for inventors, toy companies, and other businesses to find ways to incorporate bets and prizes. The first game that involved gambling was actually the predecessor of the modern-day video poker game.
Sittman and Pitt Company used five drums with ten playing cards on each drum. They used a standard deck of cards, but they removed the ten of spades and jack of hearts.
Removing these two cards lowered the possibility of getting a royal flush, which meant that the saloon owner would not have to pay out as many prizes.
It was an easy way to increase the house edge. Their machine would spin the drums and stop each one at random intervals.
The player could receive prizes from the bartender based on the poker hand they created. These prizes were typically free beer or cigars.
The drums started spinning when you inserted the coin, but the lever was used to activate the stopping mechanism. Because the levers were used to stop the drums from spinning, the players believed they could pull the lever at a specific time to try to increase their chances of winning.
Many superstitious slot machine players continue to believe that hitting the button or pulling the lever at the right time will help them win.
But the superstitions persist anyway. These coin-activated poker machines were remarkably similar to some of the ways that we gamble today. So, some historians and gamblers consider these to be the first slot machine.
If that is the case, the first slot machine was invented in However, some historians are still not convinced that these poker machines should count as the first slot machine because they did not automatically produce payouts.
When you did win, you most likely received free merchandise, but they did not pay out cash. That is where Charles Fey came in. Sittman and Pitt certainly deserve credit for their poker-based slot machine model.
But, they are often overlooked because of a man named Charles Fey. Charles Fey is often referred to as the Father of slot machines or the Thomas Edison of slot machines, partially because he made several variations.
All of his slot machine variations were popular, but he made specific changes to address cheating and other issues that slots players and proprietors had with the machines.
In the same way, Charles Fey never failed with any of his slot machine inventions. He just started with a decent machine and found several ways to make it better.
According to most historians and gamblers , Charles Fey was the inventor of the original slot machine. His Liberty Bell machine was the first to have an automated payout system and use symbols like the slot machines we use today.
These two factors make it the first cash-based slot machine. So, Charles Fey gets the credit for being the inventor of the modern slot machine.
Charles Fey was born as August Fey in in Bavaria. He later changed his name to Charles because he did not like the nickname, Gus. As a teenager, Fey got experience with mechanical and engineering skills because he helped manufacture farm equipment.
He moved to France, Great Britain, and eventually the U. All of his manufacturing jobs gave him the skills to engineer his inventions. Eventually, he started his own company with one of his coworkers.
They both created their own versions of slot machines and together created the automated payment system. Between and , Charles Fey created several different slot machine variations.
One of them was called , and it became surprisingly popular. So, he left his business with his old coworker and started his own factory.
After that, he created a game called the Card Bell, which was similar to the poker game from Sittman and Pitt. More importantly, it was the first three-reel machine with automated cash payouts.
Just one year later, Fey modified his game again. Instead of using a deck of cards, he added symbols to the reels.
These symbols included hearts, diamonds, spades, horseshoes, and an image of the Liberty Bell. Gold liberty bell symbols are still used on slot machines today.
The highest payout you could get was 50 cents for getting three Liberty Bell symbols in a row. So, it makes sense that Charles Fey called his machine the Liberty Bell.
Unfortunately, Charles Fey never patented his game ideas, so his model for the Liberty Bell was quickly copied. Other manufacturers started to replicate it, and soon there were Liberty Bell games or other variations in dozens of saloons across the country.
Most historians consider the Liberty Bell game to be the first example of a modern-day slot machine. It incorporated gambling, offered cash payouts, and used the lever system to activate the game.
The Liberty Bell attracted a lot of attention because it was the first coin-based game. However, not all of the attention was positive.
Some players found ways to cheat the game by using fake wooden coins instead of actual nickels. Symbols and other bonus features of the game are typically aligned with the theme.
Some themes are licensed from popular media franchises , including films, television series including game shows such as Wheel of Fortune , entertainers, and musicians.
Multi-line slot machines have become more popular since the s. These machines have more than one payline, meaning that visible symbols that are not aligned on the main horizontal may be considered as winning combinations.
Traditional three-reel slot machines commonly have one, three, or five paylines while video slot machines may have 9, 15, 25, or as many as different paylines.
Most accept variable numbers of credits to play, with 1 to 15 credits per line being typical. The higher the amount bet, the higher the payout will be if the player wins.
One of the main differences between video slot machines and reel machines is in the way payouts are calculated. With reel machines, the only way to win the maximum jackpot is to play the maximum number of coins usually three, sometimes four or even five coins per spin.
With video machines, the fixed payout values are multiplied by the number of coins per line that is being bet. In other words: on a reel machine, the odds are more favorable if the gambler plays with the maximum number of coins available.
Multi-way games may be configured to allow players to bet by-reel: for example, on a game with a 3x5 pattern often referred to as a way game , playing one reel allows all three symbols in the first reel to potentially pay, but only the center row pays on the remaining reels often designated by darkening the unused portions of the reels.
Other multi-way games use a 4x5 or 5x5 pattern, where there are up to five symbols in each reel, allowing for up to 1, and 3, ways to win respectively.
The Australian manufacturer Aristocrat Leisure brands games featuring this system as "Reel Power", "Xtra Reel Power" and "Super Reel Power" respectively.
A variation involves patterns where symbols pay adjacent to one another. Most of these games have a hexagonal reel formation, and much like multi-way games, any patterns not played are darkened out of use.
The latter are typically known as "high limit" machines, and machines configured to allow for such wagers are often located in dedicated areas which may have a separate team of attendants to cater to the needs of those who play there.
The machine automatically calculates the number of credits the player receives in exchange for the cash inserted. Newer machines often allow players to choose from a selection of denominations on a splash screen or menu.
A bonus is a special feature of the particular game theme, which is activated when certain symbols appear in a winning combination. Bonuses and the number of bonus features vary depending upon the game.
In other bonus rounds, the player is presented with several items on a screen from which to choose. As the player chooses items, a number of credits is revealed and awarded.
Some bonuses use a mechanical device, such as a spinning wheel, that works in conjunction with the bonus to display the amount won.
A candle is a light on top of the slot machine. It flashes to alert the operator that change is needed, hand pay is requested or a potential problem with the machine.
It can be lit by the player by pressing the "service" or "help" button. A coin hopper is a container where the coins that are immediately available for payouts are held.
When a certain preset coin capacity is reached, a coin diverter automatically redirects, or "drops", excess coins into a "drop bucket" or "drop box".
Unused coin hoppers can still be found even on games that exclusively employ Ticket-In, Ticket-Out technology, as a vestige. The credit meter is a display of the amount of money or number of credits on the machine.
On mechanical slot machines, this is usually a seven-segment display , but video slot machines typically use stylized text that suits the game's theme and user interface.
The drop bucket or drop box is a container located in a slot machine's base where excess coins are diverted from the hopper. Typically, a drop bucket is used for low-denomination slot machines and a drop box is used for high-denomination slot machines.
A drop box contains a hinged lid with one or more locks whereas a drop bucket does not contain a lid. The contents of drop buckets and drop boxes are collected and counted by the casino on a scheduled basis.
Free spins are a common form of bonus, where a series of spins are automatically played at no charge at the player's current wager. Free spins are usually triggered via a scatter of at least three designated symbols with the number of spins dependent on the number of symbols that land.
Some games allow the free spins bonus to "retrigger", which adds additional spins on top of those already awarded.
There is no theoretical limit to the number of free spins obtainable. Some games may have other features that can also trigger over the course of free spins.
A hand pay refers to a payout made by an attendant or at an exchange point "cage" , rather than by the slot machine itself.
A hand pay occurs when the amount of the payout exceeds the maximum amount that was preset by the slot machine's operator.
Usually, the maximum amount is set at the level where the operator must begin to deduct taxes. A hand pay could also be necessary as a result of a short pay.
Hopper fill slip is a document used to record the replenishment of the coin in the coin hopper after it becomes depleted as a result of making payouts to players.
The slip indicates the amount of coin placed into the hoppers, as well as the signatures of the employees involved in the transaction, the slot machine number and the location and the date.
MEAL book M achine e ntry a uthorization l og is a log of the employee's entries into the machine. Low-level or slant-top slot machines include a stool so the player may sit down.
Stand-up or upright slot machines are played while standing. Optimal play is a payback percentage based on a gambler using the optimal strategy in a skill-based slot machine game.
Payline is a line that crosses through one symbol on each reel, along which a winning combination is evaluated.
Classic spinning reel machines usually have up to nine paylines, while video slot machines may have as many as one hundred. Paylines could be of various shapes horizontal, vertical, oblique, triangular, zigzag, etc.
Persistent state refers to passive features on some slot machines, some of which able to trigger bonus payouts or other special features if certain conditions are met over time by players on that machine.
Roll-up is the process of dramatizing a win by playing sounds while the meters count up to the amount that has been won.
Short pay refers to a partial payout made by a slot machine, which is less than the amount due to the player. This occurs if the coin hopper has been depleted as a result of making earlier payouts to players.
The remaining amount due to the player is either paid as a hand pay or an attendant will come and refill the machine.
A scatter is a pay combination based on occurrences of a designated symbol landing anywhere on the reels, rather than falling in sequence on the same payline.
A scatter pay usually requires a minimum of three symbols to land, and the machine may offer increased prizes or jackpots depending on the number that land.
Scatters are frequently used to trigger bonus games, such as free spins with the number of spins multiplying based on the number of scatter symbols that land.
The scatter symbol usually cannot be matched using wilds, and some games may require the scatter symbols to appear on consecutive reels in order to pay.
On some multiway games, scatter symbols still pay in unused areas. Taste is a reference to the small amount often paid out to keep a player seated and continuously betting.
Only rarely will machines fail to pay even the minimum out over the course of several pulls. Tilt is a term derived from electromechanical slot machines' " tilt switches ", which would make or break a circuit when they were tilted or otherwise tampered with that triggered an alarm.
While modern machines no longer have tilt switches, any kind of technical fault door switch in the wrong state, reel motor failure, out of paper, etc.
A theoretical hold worksheet is a document provided by the manufacturer for every slot machine that indicates the theoretical percentage the machine should hold based on the amount paid in.
The worksheet also indicates the reel strip settings, number of coins that may be played, the payout schedule, the number of reels and other information descriptive of the particular type of slot machine.
Volatility or variance refers to the measure of risk associated with playing a slot machine. A low-volatility slot machine has regular but smaller wins, while a high-variance slot machine has fewer but bigger wins.
Weight count is an American term referring to the total value of coins or tokens removed from a slot machine's drop bucket or drop box for counting by the casino's hard count team through the use of a weigh scale.
Wild symbols substitute for most other symbols in the game similarly to a joker card , usually excluding scatter and jackpot symbols or offering a lower prize on non-natural combinations that include wilds.
How jokers behave are dependent on the specific game and whether the player is in a bonus or free games mode. Sometimes wild symbols may only appear on certain reels, or have a chance to "stack" across the entire reel.
Each machine has a table that lists the number of credits the player will receive if the symbols listed on the pay table line up on the pay line of the machine.
Some symbols are wild and can represent many, or all, of the other symbols to complete a winning line. Especially on older machines, the pay table is listed on the face of the machine, usually above and below the area containing the wheels.
On video slot machines, they are usually contained within a help menu, along with information on other features. Historically, all slot machines used revolving mechanical reels to display and determine results.
Although the original slot machine used five reels, simpler, and therefore more reliable, three reel machines quickly became the standard.
This limited the manufacturer's ability to offer large jackpots since even the rarest event had a likelihood of 0. Although the number of symbols eventually increased to about 22, allowing 10, combinations,  this still limited jackpot sizes as well as the number of possible outcomes.
In the s, however, slot machine manufacturers incorporated electronics into their products and programmed them to weight particular symbols.
Thus the odds of losing symbols appearing on the payline became disproportionate to their actual frequency on the physical reel.
A symbol would only appear once on the reel displayed to the player, but could, in fact, occupy several stops on the multiple reel.
Mobile and downloadable slot games made the casino games more popular. Today, players can play on their tablets and phones and have a chance to win the big jackpot anywhere they are.
Mobile-based games keep players engaged with the games. They can also change from a game to another without leaving their homes.
Downloadable slot games are also available. Players can download the game on their PC or mobile device and play for real money games. So without even saying, there is a slot game for you, no matter your gaming preference or style.
He miraculously got better potentially due to the controversial use of creosote, obtained through the distillation of tar and married Marie in They would go on to have four children together.
These machines were much closer to vending machines than to what we think of slot machines today , dispensing cigars or drink tickets.
These also usually required a human, the cigar shop owner or barkeep, to give you your prize. The most popular ones were the poker machines that would actually flip real playing cards on five reels, revealing the hand.
His work friend Theodore Holtz introduced him to another German who was working at California Electric Works, Gustav Friedrich Wilhelm Schultze. In , Fey designed a version of the Horseshoe, quite simply the same machine, but with a better mechanical reel, and asked Holtz to be his equal business partner and not Schultz.