May 15th 2007
An enterprising American, Charles Fey, began inventing and manufacturing slot machines in 1894 from his workshop in San Francisco. Fey pioneered many innovations of coin operated gaming devices, including the original three reel, bell slot machine in 1898.

This "Liberty Bell" is considered to be the grandfather of all modern American slot machines as its basic design continues to be used in mechanical gaming devices today. The simple mechanical devices with three old-style reels holding 20 symbols have evolved into microprocessor-controlled devices with up to five spinning reels holding hundreds of symbols.

It was during the 1930's that slot machines began to proliferate across the US, and in the late 40's the infamous Bugsy Siegel added machines to his Flamingo Hilton hotel in Las Vegas. Originally installed as a This "Liberty Bell" is considered to be the grandfather of all modern American slot machines as its basic design continues to be used in mechanical gaming devices today. The simple mechanical devices with three old-style reels holding 20 symbols have evolved into microprocessor-controlled devices with up to five spinning reels holding hundreds of symbols.

History of Slots - A Timeline

1887 - Charles Fey, a German immigrant working as a mechanic at California Electric Works in San Francisco placed the first nickel-in-the-slot machines in the gambling palaces of that city.

1894 - Charles Fey and and Theodore Holtez start their own business Holtez and Fey Electric Works.

1895 - Appears on the market the first coin operated machine called 4 -11-44. This gaming machine had three numbered dials one behind the other.

1899 - As a result of the improvements brought to 4-11-44 the first three reel slot called Liberty Bell comes to life. Fey's slot machine had three spinning reels, with diamonds, spades, hearts and one cracked Liberty Bell painted around each reel. It also had a bell that rung when you hit a winning combination. The Liberty Bell featured a cast iron case, with a classic Liberty Bell cast into the front of the machine. The machine originally had cast iron feet with toes. In later models the toes were eliminated and replaced with ornate scrolled feet.

1902 - slot machines were banned in San Francisco, and soon after that, in all of California and Nevada.

1905 - it's alleged that Mills Novelty Company (owned by Herbert Mills) of Chicago stole one of Fey's Liberty Bell slots from a San Francisco saloon.

1907 - Mills Novelty Company began production of a machine that had an automatic payout principle that was similar to Fey's. It was the first machine to carry the symbols of bars, bells, plums, oranges, cherries and lemons

1910 - Mill introduced the Operator Bell and this machine had a good neck coin entry and featured the famous fruit symbols we know today.These slot machines or one-armed bandits as they were commonly called could be found in just about every city and town across the United States.

1915 - slot machines made from less expensive wood cabinets were introduced, thus bringing to an end, the era of cast iron machines. The old cast iron slot machines had a weight of over 100 punds.

1929 - Charles Fey introduces the first silver dollar 3-reel slot machine.

1929 - Mills Novelty Company made a number of additional changes to its line of slot machines that revolutionized the industry. First, it designed its machines to be much quieter. Then it introduced a double jackpot that assured players that one could win twice in quick succession. To make its machines to be more tempting to players, Mills introduced a series of cabinet designs that were striking and multicolored, each having its own theme.

1930 - Slot machines started to spread all over U.S.

1931 - The first slot machine having a theme was the Lion Head. The Lion Head still utilized the goose neck coin acceptor that was the standard for the 1920s.

1931 - The War Eagle and the Roman Head slot machines appeared later in 1931. The War Eagle featured a new coin acceptor that displayed the coins played moving one by one across the top of the machine. This feature, not only added additional movement, but also provided the operator extra security by allowing him to more easily checks whether slugs were being used.

1940's - Bugsy Siegel added machines to his Flamingo Hilton hotel in Las Vegas

1951 - the United States Congress made it a Federal offense to transport slot machines or consoles or even their components across state lines unless the ultimate destination is a state or foreign country where slot operation is legal

1950's - the four-reeler slot machine with four reels instead of the usual three was introduced

1960's - the "hold and draw" class of slots became popular in Las Vegas. This style of machine offered players a 2nd chance to win

1980 - Bally Manufacturing introduces the first electronic slot machine. This meant more reel combinations and multiple coins could be played and also meant the demise of the traditional basic mechanical systems

1990's - slot gambling goes online

Slot machines gained their universal appeal in casinos because unlike the other games, they are played at the pace of the player and don't require the player to have any skill. The goal of the game is to spin the reels so that the symbols on all reels line up on the payline in a winning combination. When this occurs, the slot machine pays out according to the payoff table posted on its front.

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