First Slot Machine Invented – Slot machines are considered to be one of the most lucrative games in the casino arena for both players and the house. Just on August 27th, we reported that Nevada casinos took in a total of $1.36 billion from their patrons in July, the most monthly revenue for the state since gambling was legalized in 1931. The main reasons for this post were cars. The franchise earned more than $873.6 million this July, a 60% increase over the same month last year.
There’s no doubt that poker has become ubiquitous over the years, but this gambling invention can be traced back to places outside the world of casinos and gaming. Gaming machines, as we know them today, date back to the late 19th century, when the earliest prototypes of machines were actually just a novelty. In the first of a two-part history of the otter machine, we take a quick trip back in time and explore the earliest vintages, ending in the 1950s.
First Slot Machine Invented
The invention of the sewing machine is closely related to another mechanical invention: the vending machine. The first vending machine was invented in ancient times – but the reasons for its invention could not have been very different from today, perhaps naturally. The world’s first trading machine is believed to have been invented in Roman Egypt in the 1st century BC.
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It was created by the Roman mathematician and Hero of Alexandria. The goal was to distribute only a certain amount of holy water so that the people of the city would not take too much from the temple. Hero’s device actually allowed people to drop coins together, which in turn pressed a hole to release a certain amount of holy water so that everyone could get their fair share. In basic terms, Hero’s ancient vending machine is similar to today’s vending machines.
From there, in the 17th century, trading machines reached the centers of England. In the early 1600s, a smaller version of the vending machine was created in England to distribute the sale of tobacco and liquor. Although the device’s mechanism did not prevent customers from helping themselves to more than what they paid for, the boxes were usually placed prominently on the base for close inspection by the hotel keeper.
It was this coin-operated mechanism that evolved into automatic vending machines in the 20th century, and from there to coin-operated gambling machines. These early prototypes included, for example, a car with two toy horses that would race after a coin was tossed. It was more of a novelty than a direct gambling machine as patrons could not bet or gamble on the machine itself. Instead, these machines would be placed at a bar in a saloon or similar facility and would attract patrons.
During this period, patronage visits are not necessarily monetary. In the case of most such machines in the 20th century, the owner would pay the winning customers in drinks, cigarettes or shopping vouchers that could be exchanged for a holiday. However, in the late 1800s, machines began to appear that paid patrons in coins. In the first machines created, the inserted coins mainly fell into the internal balance scale, where they could cause other coins to fall and fall out. Later devices had a circular display and a dial indicator that showed or displayed a number, color, or image.
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We must interrupt our story about the car machine here to mention that the coin-operated mechanism was used to create another iconic machine: the jukebox.
According to the San Francisco News, the beginnings of the modern automobile were created by the Sittman and Pitt Company in Brooklyn, New York. The device was a great start and based on poka. Five decks with a total of 50 cards were used. In order to create a poker hand combination and win, players have to roll the game’s five reels. The game became popular, but because of the high number of wins, it became complicated for operators, making it difficult to implement automatic payment.
That’s when Charles Fay took the picture. The first automobile in the modern sense was invented by a Bavarian-born American inventor. However, there is some doubt as to when Fay built his first machine. Some sources say it was built in 1894, while others say it was between 1887 and 1895. Either way, credit goes to Fay for bringing automotive gadgets into the modern era. But he didn’t set out on his long-held dream of creating such a device.
Fey had 15 older brothers and began helping the family at age 14, but feared being drafted into the German army. This, along with the growing tension between his father and his father, led Fay to go to France to work as an instrument maker. Meanwhile, her uncle moved to New Jersey, America, and at the age of 23, Faye decided to join her uncle. However, before moving to New Jersey, he went to San Francisco and found work in the Electrical Works. Then he and a partner started a company that competed with his employer. While working on his own business, he invented the car engine.
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Around 1898, Fay built the Card Bell, the first automatic payment machine with three wheels instead of the five wheels that were common at the time. Card Belly had a handle that moved the reels when pressed down and played cards that were lined up to form poker hands. Fey’s machines usually use familiar symbols: diamonds, hearts, knives. In 1899, he made two additional symbols: the horse and the horse liberty bell, and thus the Liberty Bell car was born.
On the Liberty Bell machines, three rings in a row marked the highest payout. Sadly, only four of the more than 100 Liberty Bells built by Fay survived the 1906 San Francisco earthquake. The Liberty Bell was so popular among San Francisco saloon patrons that it was quickly copied by Fey’s competitors, such as the Mills Novelty Company of Chicago. But after San Francisco banned autos in 1909, there were said to be more than 3,000 cars. In an attempt to circumvent the law, Fay and his competitors reverted to the old ways of setting up machines without coin slots and diverted payments to other fraudulent means, perhaps through liquor and cigarettes.
Eventually, due to San Francisco’s ban, many auto factories moved and most of them ended up in Chicago.
In the early 1900s, when gambling and slot machines were legally prohibited, operators devised another way to get their machines accepted. It is said to have been first used in 1909 by the Industry Novelty Company using symbols of fruit. Fruit symbols represented different flavors of gum. A few machines that were built later actually dispensed gum.
A History Of The Slot Machine: From Ancient Times To The Iconic Liberty Bell
Industry Novelty’s idea was later copied by the Mills Novelty Company. The Mills Roman Company invented the jackpot in 1916, and certain combinations of symbols reset all the coins in the machine. In the 1920s, automobiles became popular in many parts of the country. They continued to be popular during the Great Depression. But organized crime often controlled the distribution of automobiles, whose sale, transportation, and use were once again restricted to private social clubs. Prohibition outside of Nevada lasted until 1951, when gambling was re-legalized in 1931. In the 1950s, electromechanical machines allowed for many new payment schemes, such as 3 and 5 coin multipliers, where payment sizes were proportional. to the number of coins deposited before the handle is pulled.
It was only after World War II that these devices were used on a global scale as governments absorbed tax revenue. For example, slot machines were allowed in French casinos in 1988, overturning a 50-year ban.
What happened when governments realized they could generate more revenue than tax revenue? That’s a story for another day in part two of our mini-series on automotive gear.
Brief History Of Slot Machines