Slot Machines: A Brief History of the One-Arm Bandit
The Humble Beginnings
With a simple push of a button, symphonic music plays, a light show begins, and if you’re lucky, you could walk away a winner. Today’s slot machines are the Las Vegas strip, Broadway theater, and a block buster movie all rolled into one. Yet, like everything that has an impact on the world, slots had humble beginnings. There is contention as to when the first machine was created. In 1891 Sittman and Pitt produced a gambling machine which had a side lever that one could pull in hopes of getting a good poker hand. The mechanical technology of the time was limited and could not handle an automatic payout due to the many variations of 5-card poker. A winner would receive prizes from the establishment they were visiting often in the form of cigars or free drinks. During this same time, somewhere between the years of 1887 to 1895, Charles Fey built a different gambling machine known as the Liberty Bell. Comprised of only three reels, the complexity of the machine was simplified and allowed for automatic payouts. It had a total of five symbols consisting of diamonds, spades, hearts, horseshoes, and the Liberty Bell which gave the machine its name. It was wildly popular and checked all the boxes of what most consider to be the first true slot machine: lever arm, matching symbols for a win, automatic payouts, and ringing of a bell with a jackpot.
A New Era Begins
The popularity of the Liberty Bell spawned other companies to develop and add to the history of the slot machine, but in 1976, a major shift happened with the invention of the first video slot machine. Developed by Fortune Coin, this new gaming technology would define the look and feel of the following decades within the gambling world. The exciting songs of a jackpot win to the clanking of coins filling the payout tray, this new style of slots allowed for a greater variety of entertainment that we still can hear and feel today.
90’s and Beyond
Since the 1990’s, the decade that introduced online casinos (check out login joker123), technology has pushed the slot machine into an ever expanded world of spinning the wheel to create a fortune or matching the cards to double your money. Now with multiple ways to win and over a thousand ways to hit a payline, casinos can be a fun and exciting place to spend your time. Be forewarned, if you look to the side of your slot machine it’s possible to see remnants of the past. That lever has a name that few unwary travelers know, the “One-Arm Bandit”.