What is the first thing that you notice upon entering a casino? Slot machines have become a symbol of the gambling world and the first association upon hearing the word “gambling” for many people around the world. You might think that bonuses and jackpots available to the players have always been a part of the game, but the truth is completely different.

Slot machines have evolved through time just like anything else, and the first slot machines have been made in quite different ways than the ones that we know today. However, there is one thing that stays the same – slot machines are there to attract the audiences and invite you to take a chance at winning significant amounts of money. But what did the first slot machines look like, and how did these symbols of the casino world evolve through time?

The first slot machines

It’s thanks to Charles August Fey, an American inventor, that we have slot machines today, as the first one was discovered by him back in 1894. He placed one of his machines in a local saloon the next year, and it became an instant hit. Because of the popularity of his first slot machines, Fey quit his job as a mechanic and opened a factory only to produce more machines like this. By 1989, he was the owner of a successful company called “Card Bell”. “Card Bell”, produced the first three-reel slot machines, which paid out winners automatically. The machines he produced were very much different from the slot machines that we know today. Players would pull a lever, and five drums in the machine would rotate in order to reveal a randomized poker hand. Horseshoes, bells and card suits were the first symbols featured on slot machines. It’s believed that only 4 of the original slot machines exist today. Most older slot machines were destroyed in the San Francisco earthquake that happened in 1906. By 1910, there were over 3000 slot machines in San Francisco alone, but in the next couple of years, their popularity continued to increase in the rest of the USA as well. But by 1950, they were all almost completely banned. However, due to the fact that organized crime gangs mostly ran them, nothing could stop the evolution of these machines, which resulted in the slot machines that players can see today in casinos.

The electromechanical slot machine

The technological advancements affected the way slot machines look as well. A very important factor in slot machine history is the appearance of the electromechanical slot machine, which catered for a completely new gambling experience. They offered new sorts of payout options, such as the three-coin multipliers. These slot machines were also much simpler than the ones that we can see today in casinos, and they had no other real features except multipliers. As they were mechanical, they relied on pulling a handle in order to commence the spinning. The first electromechanical slot machine could pay out up to 500 coins which were really revolutionary for that time.

Video slot machines in the ’80s

The world saw a different approach to slot machines during the ’80s when satellite and cable TV took their first steps. This was the time when people started entering the digitized world without even realizing it (the beginnings of this happened in the late ’70s). Video slots took over slowly over somewhere in the first years of the ’80s, which was also the time when the first progressive jackpots became primarily available in Las Vegas and other major cities in the United States. This was the reason why there are so many different massive jackpots today, but at that time, winning millions at a slot machine was rather impossible. However, in the last decade of the XX century, gambling laws in the USA and the rest of the world became pretty relaxed, which resulted in the possibility of slot machines spreading all over the globe very quickly.

The evolution of the online slot machine

Somewhere in the early 2000s, the internet really began to take off, and this created an excellent foundation for the online slot machine. As more and more gamblers came online, casinos began incorporating more online slot games. Even though Bill Gates wasn’t the central figure in the arrival of the online slot machine, he was the key person as he made computers and the internet accessible to everyone. This was also when big companies such as Microgaming and Playtech started operating. Online slots evolved rapidly when compared to their predecessors. Apart from that, there were also big pools of jackpots that were up for grabs, which created an even bigger demand for playing online slot machines.

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The slot machines of the future – virtual reality slots

But times are constantly changing, and we’re all very excited to see what the future will bring. If we think about how slot machines evolved in only the last 100 years, it’s incredible to guess which direction they will be growing in the future. One of the definite directions this evolution will take is virtual reality. However, while the debate of whether virtual reality will be a big part of the future world is still ongoing, the first virtual reality slots are already here and are becoming quite popular. These games by websites such as Slots Million are still in their infancy but are believed to become huge in the future.

Final word

The future of slot machines cannot be predicted, and we can’t guess how slot machines and online casinos will continue to evolve in the future. It is believed, though, that virtual reality will play a huge role. But if we can learn something from the last hundred years, the changes will truly be remarkable.

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