May 8th 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 reels, bell slot machine in 1899, called Liberty Bell. The basic designs used on this machine continue to be featured even today on the modern American slot machines.

Chronicles from San Francisco from that period described Fey's machine as a being a machine featuring 3 reels mostly hidden with Horseshoes, Spades, Diamonds, Hearts, and Bells symbols on reels. The device is operated by depositing a nickel in a slot to release the handle, when the right combination of symbols stop in the window the player is awarded coins ranging from 2, on 2 Horseshoes to 20 for 3 bells. The simple mechanical devices with three old-style reels holding 20 symbols have evolved today into microprocessor-controlled devices with up to five spinning reels holding hundreds of symbols.

There are a few other persons and or companies important in the history of slot machines after Charles Fey, that worth to be mentioned. One of this people is Herbert Mill. He brought significant improvements to the Liberty Bell machine. 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. The phenomenon that is still keeping the history of slot machines fresh, themes began at this time and haven't looked back since. Some of the original themes included the 'Roman Head', the 'Castle Front', the 'War Eagle', and the 'Lion Head'.

Nevada Electronics' solid state "21" machines were a big deal, and by the mid-1970s, other manufacturers had built solid state 21, dice, roulette, horse racing, and poker machines. The most successful of these was the Dale Electronics' Poker-Matic, which could be found in most Nevada casinos.

In 1975 the Fortune Coin Company introduced the first video bell slot machine in Las Vegas. The new machine received only mild acceptance by the casinos, which purchased it primarily as a novelty. It wasn't until it was converted to a draw poker machine that it's potential became apparent. In 1976, Bally built a black and white video poker machine and eight months later the Fortune Coin Company returned the favor with a color version.

A new slot manufacturing giant, founded by Willion "Si" Redd, showed itself in 1975. After selling his Nevada Distributing Company to Bally Manufacturing, Redd arranged for $1.5 million to be subtracted from the purchase price so he could keep the rights to the electronic games, including video slots. Redd's new company, A-1 Supply, soon acquired pioneer video game manufacturer, Nutting Enterprises, and began building BlackJack and Draw Poker console machines. The company flourished, and William Redd changed it's name to Sircoma (Si Redd Coin Machines). In 1981 Redd's company underwent another name change, this time to IGT (International Game Technology).

There are many different types of machines, and whether playing a progressive or a straight slot, players will be faced with a number of choices. Machines vary on denomination of coins, the number of reels, how many coins to play, and single or multiple paylines. And now there are even similar 'Video' Poker machines based the same idea as slots.

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