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In , Bally developed the first fully electromechanical slot machine, calling it Money Honey. One of the most notable moments in the history of slots is when the first video slot machine was introduced in a hotel in Las Vegas in Featuring a modified inch Sony TV as a display screen, it was from here that the slot business took off in Las Vegas, and by the late s every casino on the strip had their own video slot machines.
The most popular slot machines were the fruit machines and one-armed bandits. Throughout the 80s and 90s, slot machines reached new levels of success with the addition of video technology.
Not limited by structural or mechanical problems, video slots took over the casino industry. Bonus rounds, additional pay-outs, and many other features were introduced as slots moved seamlessly with the progression of modern technology.
There were a few different iterations of slot machines, such as the machines developed by New York-based Sittman and Pitt.
This game cost a nickel to play and had five drums which would show up. They awarded payouts for making poker hands with these cards.
Shortly after this, he built the , which was so successful that he quit his job to build them full time. By , Fey had created the first three-reel slot machine.
These had automatic payouts built-in, with the coins falling out of the machine and into the tray below. He then built the Liberty Bell slot in , which had bells, horseshoes, and other symbols of luck on the reels.
Based on the history of early slot machines outlined above, we can say that Charles August Fey invented the first slot machine proper.
What made this machine revolutionary were all the different upgrades made to it. Wood cabinets allowed for cheaper production and more machines.
The noise was reduced, and people could win twice in a row. Later machines based on the Operator Bell, even displayed the coins used in the game.
Mills found enormous success due to his cheaper production methods and innovations. Slot machines would become even more popular across America and even Europe.
However, this success would not last long for everyone as a new threat to the gambling industry emerged: state prohibition.
Political corruption, the belief gambling was designed to steal money, and a more Victorian morality led to a rough era for slot machines in the early 20th century.
Many people believed gambling and alcohol ruined men, preventing them from contributing to society. This led to nation-wide legislation that banned slot machines entirely.
Initially, slot machines were refurbished to instead payout chewing gum. The various fruit symbols would denote the flavour you won.
The famous BAR symbol comes from the logo of the Bell-Fruit Gum Company. However, it would not be enough as even vending machines were banned.
Speakeasies were secret illegal versions of saloons that allowed slot machines and alcohol so they could earn revenue. As such, slot machines remained popular, and gambling continued to thrive, even under the ban.
While the state was dumping slot machines in the oceans, Chicago became the new capital of gambling and Nevada even legalized gambling in Slot machines would enjoy a boom in popularity and revenue both during the ban and the two World Wars.
The excitement of gambling and chance to win, even if it was only 50 cents was enticing. It was also a fun escape from the tragedies around the time.
Slot machines would continue to be popular, but would not innovate too much until the 60s. The prohibition era ended in , so slot machines were now back in action.
For a while, there were no real changes as slot machines were very solid and fun games. However, payouts were still very small, and the machines were becoming outdated.
Bally was a producer of pinball machines that began using electromechanics in their games. Slot game manufacturers began using such elements to improve their games, but Bally was able to truly refine it.
Money Honey was the beginning of a new age of slot games and was closer to what we have now. This electromechanical slot had new sound effects, digital reels and 25 symbols.
It ran on electricity ,and future games would even have more reels, so it was harder to win. The most revolutionary aspect was the hopper.
This is the basket that contains all the coins which can be immediately paid out. Hoppers allowed for bigger payouts, so you could earn up to coins.
Later versions would even allow for dollar coins. The final innovation was the random number generator. Bally hired a computer programmer called Inge Telnaus to help them increase jackpot sizes, while still making a profit.
He created a program that assigned numbers to imaginary reels. As such, you could no longer predict the outcome and winning became harder.
While it might sound like this favours the company too much, consumers benefited from this change too. Nowadays, slot machines are a mainstay in casinos and sometimes even the main attraction.
Some games are even themed after movies or video games. The RNG ensures games are not rigged and can be enjoyed by anyone. Space was made for them, and operators would get as many slots as they could.
But, the revolution of the slot machine was just the beginning. Fortunately, the next innovation in the slot machine industry came quickly. Less than 13 years after the first electromechanical machine, slot machines got a facelift again with the invention of video slot machines.
Fortune Coin Company took one of the most famous inventions of the s, the color television, and incorporated it into their slot machines.
They used a inch Sony TV to display the spinning symbols, instead of the physical reels that had been used since It was a four-reel slot machine with three pay lines called Fortune Coin.
These logic boards were the first version of the random number generators that slot machines and casino games use today. At first, customers were skeptical of the video slots.
Despite their lack of initial success, the Nevada Gaming Commission approved the use of video slots in casinos. International Game Technology , better known as IGT, bought out the Fortune Coin Company in IGT was able to modify the video slot machines to attract more customers and to benefit the casinos.
They added visual effects to make it look like the reels were spinning. They also made the slot machines smaller, with individual chairs so that the casinos could fit more of them on their gaming floor.
Fortunate Coin Company gets the credit for creating the first video slots. But it was their merger with IGT that made these slot machines profitable.
Atlantic City legalized casinos around the same time, so IGT had a whole new market of casinos to work with. Video slots transformed the casino industry, and casinos everywhere began offering thousands of these machines.
Manufacturers updated the graphics and the internal mechanisms, but no one considered moving away from pennies, nickels, dimes, and quarters.
Gamblers carried quart-size buckets of coins around with them. When they won, the machine would spill out a certain number of coins, filling the casino with the clinking sound of coins falling into the metal hopper.
However, slot machines never held enough coins to payout enough for some of the more significant jackpots. So, if you won more than the threshold amount, which was usually coins, you had to wait for a casino manager to come to your machine.
The casino manager would come to check your machine, verify your win, and fill out paperwork. Once all of the paperwork was complete, they would carry more coins to you, accompanied by a security guard.
In many cases, the process of collecting your winnings could take an hour or more, depending on how busy the casino was.
It almost always took at least half an hour. Waiting that long for your prize money was anticlimactic for many gamblers.
You may have just won a massive jackpot, but now you have to stand around waiting and filling out paperwork.
Fortunately, MGM Corporation changed all that. In the early s, MGM was constructing the MGM Grand Casino. They had an idea to make the new casino completely cashless.
Some of the inventions that were key to the success of the project included barcode scanners, bill validators, ticket printers, and game developers.
They bought gaming technology from Five Star Solutions, a barcode printer from John Yarbrough, and a bill validator from Pat Greene.
These combined technologies created a universal interface board protocol that could be used on almost any slot machine.
After developing the Universal Interface Board UIB , MGM invited IGT, Bally Gaming, Sigma Games, and several other manufacturers to try out the UIB.
They had trailers in the Desert Inn parking lot where the manufacturers could test their games with the new software. All of these manufacturers worked together to create the first Ticket In Ticket Out TITO slot machines.
However, IGT bought the patents for TITO machines from MGM later, so IGT is often credited as the first company to offer TITO software.
TITO machines accepted dollar bills instead of coins. When the player was ready to cash out, the machine would print a barcoded ticket. That is why slot machine developers eventually added coin-clinking sound effects to most of their machines.
Political leaders initially resisted the TITO machines because they felt like they were just a step away from credit card readers at slot machines.
Gambling on credit is a sign of problem gambling, so they did not want to make that available. The system required cash to get started, so it could not be used for credit-based games.
Once they saw them in action, the Nevada Gaming Commission approved the use of TITO slot machines. Ticket In Ticket Out machines spread rapidly throughout Las Vegas and other gambling destinations.
They offered many benefits for both the players and the casinos. Before TITO, casinos had to have a separate machine for pennies, nickels, dimes, and quarters.
TITO software lets them accept multiple denominations on one machine, which means they can also expand their games collection.
The invention of video slots transformed slot machines. They are easier to manufacture and easier to modify.
Now that almost all slot machines are video slots, manufacturers keep adding new features, better graphics, and different game themes.
While manufacturers continue to find new ways to add excitement to their slot machines, the fundamental machine is similar to those that emerged in the s.
Many things have remained the same, but there are a couple of new features that are worth noting.
One of the most significant upgrades for slot machines came in IGT was again the company with the cutting edge. It uses an electronic system to connect several slot machines to each other.
They collected a portion of each bet that was made on each of the linked machines to create a super jackpot. These super jackpots significantly increased the potential payout for customers.
Bigger payouts attract more customers, so the casinos also benefitted. Here are some of the most impressive jackpot wins ever.
Megabucks was the first progressive slot machine, and it is still responsible for almost all of the highest record-breaking jackpot wins in casino history.
Another significant change for modern slot machines came in , from a software development company called Williams Interactive, or WMS.
It features several different fish symbols for the highest payouts and fishing equipment like tackleboxes, fishing poles, and bobbers for the smaller prizes.
Some of the symbols may have fishing lures on them. If you get three lures on any of the reels, you can trigger the bonus round.
They do not have to be on a pay line. When you enter the bonus round, you get to pick your fisherman, who will cast two to four times. The fisherman will cast the line, and the screen will show you an underwater scene with several fish.
He will catch one fish for each cast, and each fish has a different prize attached. Depending on the outcome of your bonus round, you can earn multipliers and bonus credits.
You can even trigger a fishing competition where you compete against the computer. The addition of the second-screen bonus round added a lot of variety to games that previously had nothing other than spinning reels.
It also came at a time when computer games and video games were becoming increasingly popular. Younger gamblers are far less interested in slot machines because they are far too repetitive.
The computerized software that operates video slots makes it easier for game developers to incorporate different graphics and features.
These graphics are an excellent way to incorporate themes and design elements that make the games more appealing to players. You can still find fruit symbols on many slot machines, but modern slots tend to have specific themes.
Today, you can find slot machines based on pop culture references, animals, space, knights, and fairy tales.
Ancient mythology from China, Egypt, and Greece are all surprisingly popular themes. That might be because one of the most popular themed slot machines ever was Cleopatra.
IGT released their Cleopatra video slot machine in