A slot machine, a fruit machine, a one-armed bandit – whatever name you choose to give it, it is safe to say that we are all extremely familiar with the concept of the classic slot game. Whether you are at a casino, a pub, or even in the comfort of your own home gaming at sites such as Barbadosbingo, it is easy to access and play slot games today. The slot game is a long-standing fan favourite, loved and played by many on a daily basis, but few actually know its origins. So, where did it all begin?
In Brooklyn, New York, in 1891, Sittman and Pitt invented a gambling machine, considered now to be the very first slot machine. Slightly different to the classic slot machines that we know and love today, Sittman and Pitt’s was poker-based and involved no element of direct payout – instead, the owner of the bar or establishment would reward winners with free drinks or cigars, depending on how good the winning hand was.
Liberty Bell Slot Machine
In an aim to develop Sittman and Pitt’s machine, Charles Fey of San Francisco came up with the Liberty Bell model by 1895, which was much more straightforward, involving three spinning reels and five different symbols (a horseshoe, a spade, a heart, a diamond and a Liberty Bell). This version was coin-operated, and players could win the jackpot cash prize of 50 cents by lining up three Liberty Bell symbols in a row – simple!
Perhaps it was thanks to this element of simplicity that Fey’s Liberty Bell machine turned out to be a total success, quickly spreading throughout the USA. Soon, machines could be found in the majority of barber shops, saloons, cigar shops and many other popular establishments, and other manufacturers began to come up with their own similar versions. Any surviving original Liberty Bell machines are well treasured today, stored in various museums and of extremely high value.
Building again upon the Liberty Bell machine, Herbert Mills of Chicago invented the Operator Bell model in 1907, which saw the introduction of the fruit symbols that we use in many slot machines to this day. The classic ‘BAR’ symbol was also added around this time, and is thought to represent the gum packaging from the Bell Fruit Gum Company, having created a machine that paid out in gum.
Slot machines, traditionally popular amongst women, were mechanically operated up until the creation of the first electronic slot machine – the Money Honey – in 1964, and advancements in technology since then have allowed for the development of cutting-edge video- and animation-based slot machines, played daily by a range of people in many countries all throughout the world. Adding to this, the continuous rise in popularity of online casinos, both on PC and mobile, now allows slot lovers to play whenever and wherever they like. New online slot games are constantly being released with different themes and storylines, offering players the chance to play their favourite games and to win considerably large jackpot cash prizes at the touch of a button.