May 15th 2007
Slot machines are a colorful part of America's history. One of the most popular machines are the ones using red, white, and blue 7's symbol which trade on American patriotism. This exceptionally American invention has become to be one of the most appreciated betting games in the world of casino gaming and they spread they wings in such a manner that you can even find slot machines at bus terminals, lounges and pubs.

The beginning of the history of slot machines we know today starts with its inventor, Charles Fey. He first invented in 1895 a slot machine with three numbered dials one behind another and because of the enormous success brought by this machine he continued working on this idea and brought improvements to the machine. Finally, the ancestor of the slot machine we know today is brought to the market, in 1899 with the name Liberty Bell. 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.

Fey was the number one manufacturer of slots machines until 1907. Mills Novelty Company owned by Herbert Stephen Mill from Chicago, modified Fey's machine. In 1910, Mill introduced the Operator Bell, and this machine had a good neck coin entry and featured the famous fruit symbols we know today. The cast iron slot machines had a weight of over 100 pounds and over 30,000 of these machines were produced. Mills released on the market in 1915 new slot machines with less expensive wood cabinets.

Over the next couple of decades the Mills Company made numerous changes and alterations to the machines and to the game itself. Multiple jackpots, quieter running machines, colorful cabinets to attract players, and eventually specific themes. The first in early 1931 was the Lion Head. In late 1931, it was the War Eagle and the Roman Head, and in 1933, it was the Castle Front. The Lion Head still utilized the goose neck coin acceptor that was the standard for the 1920s. The War Eagle, however, 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.

Electronics reared their ugly head when the sixties rolled around. 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).

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