History of Slots
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Where it all began... The Slot Machine!

The first mechanical slot machine was the Liberty Bell. The term slot machines was originally used for all automatic vending machines as well as for the gambling devices, it was not until the 20th century that the term became restricted to the latter. A "fruit machine" is one British term for a slot machine. The one-armed bandit is another popular nickname.

Liberty Bell Slot MachineThe first mechanical slot machine the Liberty Bell, was invented in 1895 by car mechanic,Charles Fey (1862–1944) of San Francisco. The Liberty Bell slot machine had three spinning reels. Diamond, spade, and heart symbols were painted around each reel, plus the image of a cracked Liberty Bell. A spin resulting in three Liberty Bells in a row gave the biggest payoff, a grand total of fifty cents or ten nickels.

The original Liberty Bell slot machine can still be seen be at the Liberty Belle Saloon & Restaurant in Reno, Nevada.

Fey rented his machines to saloons and bars based on a 50/50 split of the profits. Almost all slot machines built and invented are based on the mechanics and workings of this original machine. Engineers are still amazed at the sheer mechanical marvel acheived all those years ago by this young car mechanic.

Demand for Slot Machines Grew over the coming years and the demand for Liberty Bell slot machines was huge. Fey could not build them fast enough in his small shop. Gambling supply manufacturers tried to buy the manufacturing and distribution rights to the Liberty Bell, however, Charles Fey refused to sell. As a result in 1907, Herbert Mills, a Chicago manufacturer of arcade machines, began production of a slot machine, a knock-off of Fey's Liberty Bell, called the Operator Bell.

www.slotmachinedepot.co.ukThe Mills Novelty Company introduced a slight variation to the Liberty Bell, the Operator Bell with a gooseneck coin entry and featured the now famous fruit symbols, which are still used in many of today's slot machines. These cast iron slots are heavy, weighing over 100 pounds. Over 30,000 of these machines were made.

The era of cast iron slot machines ended in 1915, when Mills introduced slot machines with less expensive wood cabinets. In the early 1930s, the Mills Novelty Company made a number of additional changes to its line of slot machines that revolutionized the industry.

First, it designed its machines to be much quieter. That's why its 1930s machines are referred to as the "silent bell". Then it introduced a double jackpot that assured players that one could win twice in quick succession.

Mills Castle Front Slot MachineTo make its slot machines memorable and enticing to players, Mills introduced a series of cabinet designs that were striking and colorful, each with its own theme. The first in early 1931 was the Lion Head. In late 1931, it was the War Eagle and the Roman Head, and in 1933, it was the Castle Front.

It was during the 1930's that slot machines began to become very popular across America, and in the late 40's Bugsy Siegel added machines to his Flamingo Hilton hotel in Las Vegas. Originally installed as a way to entertain the wives and girlfriends of high rollers, revenue from the slot machines soon matched that of the table games. By the 1990's slots had taken over and now account for over two-thirds of casino revenue in the United States.

Todays slot machine industry is still a major contributor to gambling casinos main revenue and these addictive machines still have that fascinating attraction to the onlooker to part with their cash. The way slots work today is alot different, controlled 100% by electronics, there is NO luck involved as each machine is programmed to produce a set sequence of symbols and payouts.

As for the future of the slot... The story will just continue and continue...