The slot machine or the one armed bandit has been seen as everything from a toy, to a thief, and an infernal mechanism since its official creation. As one of the most popular and least trusted gaming devices however, it’s past and evolution towards what we today would consider the modern slot machine is an interesting story. This icon is a staple of modern gaming and the center of so many strange tales, because unlike card or dice games the slot machine was birthed at the beginning of the technological age.
Charles Fey and the Liberty Bell
The first slot game that was developed and completely constructed was based around poker and the suits and card combinations in that game. It was created in 1887 by the Charles Fey a talented inventor and a gaming intellect that made him respected, but not as much as he was respected as a gamble. Fey’s machine had 3 spinning wheels, with a total of 5 symbols including horseshoes, spades, hearts, diamonds, and of course the Liberty Bell which is where the machine took its name as the Liberty Bell slot machine.
Tradition Symbols, Style and a Banned Machine
One of the main features of these machines were the symbols that were installed into the machine to signify your wining or loss, the Liberty Bell was installed as a way of showing the burgeoning patriotism that was a selling point for the machine and the bell was the initial jack pot symbol for the machine. The hard sell was requisite as the machines were banned for a time in several states. But thanks to his marketing they became very popular outside o Fey’s home state, make him a rich man.
At the time to avoid the link to gambling and get around bans in several states the jackpot was gum rather than cash and the fruit flavoring of the gum was the reason behind why the fruit was added into the machine as one of the machine symbols. These symbols included cherries, melons, and bars, which were added early as a logo, but it became closely linked to the machine itself in the Bell Fruit version of the machine.
As the steps were made towards a full legalization of gambling it was time for the more clockwork mechanized version that were actually able to pay out and the nick name for the one armed bandit was created. The next step was for a fully modernized and more random machine that people found more trustworthy. This came in the year 1963 from Bally Technologies Inc. and was the beginning of the modern age of competitive and profitable slot machine gambling. This involved the addition of electro mechanical components being implemented into the design of the slot machines which helped to improve game play and profitability for players. This marked the end of the days of the so called one-armed-bandit and a star t of a new golden age for the slot machine.