Focus on the little-known history of the slot machine, which remains the accessory that most symbolises the world of casinos.
As an essential element of casinos, the traditional slot machine has survived the times and undergone many changes, while retaining a form of authenticity!
Some people may not know it, but this machine, which almost everyone has handled at least once in their lives, turns out to be a very old lady, whose story began a long time ago.
Charles August Fey, founding father of slot machines
It was in 1898, at the dawn of the 20th century, that a certain Charles August Fey invented the first slot machine, named “Card Bell”.
This engineer, who had always had a passion for automatic casters, improved his prototype the following year and created a second one in metal, which he named “Liberty Bell”.
This machine, known as a “mechanical roller machine”, was a dazzling success. It consisted of three rollers, around which were displayed the five symbols of the tile, the heart, the spade, the horseshoe and, of course, the Liberty Bell (to which the name of the machine refers).
This machine will supplant all the old models of automatic roulette, due in particular to its very large combination capacity (about a thousand). Unfortunately for Fey, his stubbornness and his refusal to commercialise his concept will lead him to his downfall.
The rise of the Mills and Caille machines
Refusing to register the patent for his machine, Fey had a copy stolen by the Mills company, which then built one in its turn. A “one-armed bandit” model very close to the “Liberty Bell”.
The Caille company did the same and a real competition was born on the slot machine market.
But despite the success of the latter, the industry was quickly threatened in the 1920s with the period of prohibition, during which gambling was banned along with alcohol.
It was at this time that the Mills company had the brilliant idea of converting its machines into a… candy dispenser. It is from this period that fruit designs (banana, cherry, or strawberry) appeared on the machines that still exist today.
With the return of gambling and the development of casinos almost everywhere, the Mills and Caille machines, taking up the mechanism invented by Fey, will then prosper and dominate the market until the appearance of electromechanical machines in the 60s.
The advent of electronic machines
The arrival of electronic machines in 1963 made the models move towards modernity!
All the machines we handle today in casinos around the world are indeed electronic and come in several models.
First of all, there are the classic roller machines (which offer between 3 and 5 mechanical rollers driven by electronic motors). However, the latter are tending to disappear in favour of video roller machines, which generally have five or even six video rollers on a screen that can be touched.
On another level, there are also poker machines which, as their name suggests, offer to play the famous card game. Unlike other slot machines, these do not have reels.
Virtual machines and the development of online casinos
With the development of specialised websites and online guides such as Pokerstars, Betiton (https://www.betiton.com/en-nz/casino/) or even more than a thousands of specialists, new forms of virtual slot machines have appeared. These websites can be based all around the world, whereas it is in France, the UK, Australia, New Zealand, the USA, Ireland…
These are therefore no longer real, but operate in the same way as their ancestors, still offering the famous reel system which can now be seen scrolling online on a screen of various devices such as computers, tablets or smartphones.
As we have just seen, the slot machine has undergone many changes over the course of history, but has retained its old-fashioned charm and original entertainment function.