The slot machine has come a long way since the early ones appeared on the scene in San Francisco back in the 1800s. Back then, instead of fruit symbols, the early machines had five reels of 10 card symbols, leaving two cards out of every deck (Ten of Spades and the Jack of Hearts). Without those two cards, the player’s chances of getting a Royal Flush and the big prize that went with it were halved. Of course, prizes back then were not in cash, they were cigars, free drinks or similar items.
The first slot machine to bear any resemblance to some of the best online slots we see today was the Liberty Bell game produced by inventor Charles Fey in 1899. The original slot that Fey produced had three reels with various different symbols, including a cracked Liberty Bell and a large handle on the side to get the reels spinning. Fey put his machine in a saloon to test it out on the public and the reaction was so enthusiastic that after a fortnight, he quit his job to focus on his invention.
In 1909 a man named Stephen Mill modified Fey’s machine, adding ten new symbols to each reel and producing a more compact machine. Mill’s modified machines gradually took over the slot machine market. The only problem with these mechanical machines is that they were very easy to cheat. Players could simply use a small stick to jam the reels where they wanted, so operators had to come up with a way of preventing this in order to make slots profitable.
The big change came about in 1964, when the first slot machines with electronic microprocessors hit the market. Obviously, these were much more secure and operators could offer bigger and better prizes as the new machines were cheat-proof. The electro-mechanical machines also included design features that allowed them to hold larger amounts of money than the older machines.
In the 1970s, a man named Walt Freely introduced the first video slot called Fortune Coin. It contained a computer unit, coin hopper and TV screen, and the game’s host had greater control over odds, payouts and security features. However, slots players were slow to warm to this technological innovation – as there were no actual reels, people didn’t trust the machines to play fair. Around the same time, video poker was introduced and it was actually the success of video poker that convinced consumers to have confidence in video slots. Companies such as IGT and WMS Industries enjoyed great success as the video slots industry took off and every casino started swapping out mechanical slots for the latest video slots games which you can find some here at Ladylucks Casino.
Of course, the internet has taken slots through a further renaissance and the possibilities of game design and features now seem endless. Lots of new companies took advantage of this in the initial boom of internet slots. However, only a few companies remain competitive and steady suppliers for the online slots industry. The most well-known names are Microgaming, Playtech, Real Time Gaming and Net Entertainment.
Online slots creators have almost no limits today and that’s why there are so many differently themed and styled slots to play online. The humble slot machine has come a long way over the last hundred years or so – where there were once only three reels, now multi-line slots are the norm, with many games offering 100 paylines at a time.