History and Operation of Slot Machines

All casinos reverberate with the distinctive sound of slot machines, blending cheerful jingles and cascading melodies. Their vibrant colors and hypnotic lights create a captivating visual spectacle, immersing players in a kaleidoscope of sensations. Undoubtedly, slot machines remain the enduring symbol of casinos. Easily accessible, they are also the most favored game of chance worldwide. But what is the origin of these one-armed bandits? How do they work? Find answers with GAMRFIRST.

History of Slot Machines

Since its creation in the late 19th century, the one-armed bandit or slot machine, as it's nicknamed, has undergone numerous evolutions. From a simple mechanical system, it has become a machine incorporating advanced technologies.

The New York Ancestor of the Slot Machine

In 1891, the New York company Sittman & Pitt, based in the heart of Brooklyn, created the Lady Luck. For now, it's simply a mechanical system with 5 reels containing 50 poker images. But the idea is already there. Players insert a 50-cent coin and then pull the lever to activate the reels. The cards scroll and then stop, forming a combination.

However, this game of chance is not yet a game of money. The machines don't offer any payment system. Most of the time, the player enjoys a free drink or a cigar offered by the bar.

At that time, many establishments manipulate the operation of the machines to disadvantage their customers. Nevertheless, this new game finds its audience, prompting many bars in the city to install it on their premises.

1894 to 1899: Invention and Improvement of the Slot Machine

The real first slot machine is invented in 1894 by the mechanic Charles August Fey. The "one-armed bandit" or "the one-armed bandit" is born.

Originally, this German expatriate in the United States works for a manufacturer of telephones and telegraphs. Quickly, he decides to leave his job to market the first machine which he names "Horseshoe" in English.

In 1895, he invents a new variant of the slot machine, based on a system of 3 concentric reels. He nicknames his new game the "4-11-44". The success is immediate. All American bars want to acquire it. Charles August Fey then creates his slot machine manufacturing company, Market Street, in San Francisco. In this model, the number of possible combinations remains limited and the system of concentric reels deserves some improvements.

Charles August Fey then focuses on his new version, the Card Bell, finalized in 1898. This time, the slot machine operates with automatic reels, each containing 5 symbols: the diamond, the ace of spades, the heart, the horseshoe, and the liberty bell. Spinning rapidly, the reels turn and then stop, with each spin having the chance to win the jackpot.

But Charles August Fey doesn't stop there. He improves his model and releases in 1899 a final version of his slot machine, the Liberty Bell. Smaller and made of metal, it offers 1,000 different combinations.

Slot Machines from 1907 to 1933

The Liberty Bell enjoys resounding success. Many companies choose to copy the system invented by Charles August Fey. In 1907, the Mills company steals a device and releases an identical model on the market.

When prohibition begins in 1910, legal slot machine business comes to an end. It's during this period that the symbol of fruits appears on the reels. Until 1933, gambling is prohibited in the United States. The Mills company, then a leader in the market, decides to transform its machines into candy dispensers. It replaces the poker symbols with the offered flavors: lemons, plums, cherries, and oranges. These will be retained and taken up by casinos to this day.

Electromechanical Slot Machines (1960 - 1970)

While maintaining their fundamental mechanical structure, slot machines now incorporate electrical components to offer new experiences to players.

In addition to the traditional pulling levers, push-button controls are now added. Electrical components introduce a symphony of lights and sound. Bonus games and multiline machines, allowing players to activate multiple paylines simultaneously, increase the chances of winning. All these innovations enhance interactivity and the immersive nature of the game of chance.

Entry of Slot Machines into the Digital Era

The integration of microprocessors into slot machines marks a crucial step in the popularity of this game of chance. This technology offers a greater variety of symbols and winning combinations. It then expands the range of possibilities for players, introducing a new complexity into the game.

This turning point paves the way for the design of video slot machines, where virtual reels are displayed on interactive screens. Such evolution has allowed game developers to push the limits of creativity. They are now capable of offering more varied themes with more complex features.

Arrival of Online Slot Machines

With the advent of the Internet, slot machines also make their entry into the virtual world. The first online casinos begin to offer players a greater variety of games. In parallel, the digital revolution also offers more creativity in themes, bonuses, and features.

Modern Slot Machines

They now incorporate advanced technologies such as artificial intelligence, 3D graphics, and even gameplay elements borrowed from video games.

As for progressive jackpot slot machines, they offer massive winnings, sometimes worth several million Swiss francs, thanks to networks of connected machines.

How do Slot Machines Work?

Traditional slot machines, that is, mechanical ones, are now rare in casinos. Most invest in modern systems with video screens, random number generators, and complex software.

How Does a Mechanical Slot Machine Work?

A traditional slot machine works through a rather simple system. It has three or five reels with different symbols printed on their surface. The player inserts a coin or token into the machine's slot to place their bet.

Before starting the game, the player pulls a physical lever on the side of the machine. The reels start spinning independently. Each of them eventually stops on a specific symbol.

Once the reels are immobilized, the symbols displayed on the center line, called the payline, are examined to determine if there's a winning combination. These combinations can vary based on the specific rules of the game. Most of the time, they involve aligning identical symbols on the payline.

If the symbols align to form a winning combination, the mechanical slot machine triggers a payout mechanism. This releases won coins into a collection bin at the front of the machine.

After each game, the traditional slot machine resets for the next player. The reels return to their starting position. The machine is ready to be used again.

Good to know: what is the payout rate of a slot machine

The return rate or Return to Player (RTP) corresponds to the percentage of bets redistributed by the casino as winnings for each slot machine. In Switzerland, this rate is over 95% for all casino games.

How Does a Modern Slot Machine Work?

Today, in online or land-based casinos, the operation of slot machines is based on a random number generator (RNG). This computer system is tasked with constantly generating random sequences of numbers. Each sequence corresponds to a set of symbols. This set is displayed when the reels stop.

The player presses the spin button, and the reels start spinning. In video slot machines, they appear as images displayed on the screen. This type of machine sometimes features touchscreen displays and additional interactive bonus games. The player then stops the reels by pressing the button again. Without the player's action, the stop is automatic after a certain amount of time.

The machine then consults the RNG to obtain the sequence of numbers generated at that precise moment. It then checks for winning combinations according to the game's rules.

If the player wins, the machine automatically makes the payment by crediting the player's account. In land-based casinos, this usually results in tokens or bills. In online casinos, the winnings are added to the player's account balance. After the payment, the machine resets for the next round of play.

To ensure fair and random play, modern slot machines use complex algorithms. Players have no way to predict or influence the outcome.

Since the advent of slot machines in the late 19th century, manufacturers and casinos have continued to innovate. With GAMRFIRST, your online casino, dive into a captivating array of hundreds of themes for an unparalleled gaming experience. Get ready to have fun but always play responsibly.