Slot machines have come a long way since the 1800s, when they appeared for the first time in San Francisco. These basic mechanical diversions have now given way to glitzy and dramatic electronic light shows with multi-million pound prizes in Vegas. Now the online versions on Wink Slots have taken the humble slot machine to a higher level altogether; 3D offers a higher plane and even more chances to win.
The first slot machines were a world away from today’s offerings and came with numbers, like decks of cards, rather than the fruit symbols that have taken over today. Before the slot machines came into existence, card games in saloons were the only widespread form of gambling. So in a shrewd marketing move, the first machines offered a familiar face.
The first machines actually had 10 numbers on five separate reels, leaving the jack of hearts and ten of spades out of the pack, which meant the players had a far harder task to score a royal flush. Even if they had, it would not have sent coins flying out in dramatic fashion; the early machines offered drinks and cigars as prizes in saloon and tokens in the penny arcades and boardwalk fairs.
Charles Fey produced the first of today’s modern slots in 1899. Called ‘The Liberty Bell’, which is a legend among collectors today, it featured a coin slot, a large handle on the side that spawned the nickname ‘one-armed bandit’ and three reels. It was an overnight hit and Fey carved out a highly profitable niche making his machines. He also introduced the first fruit symbols, which went on to define the genre.
10 years later, Stephen Mill changed the design with new symbols and a more compact footprint that allowed more saloons to feature the slot machines. Especially in those days, cheating was rife and it was possible to manipulate the reels with a stick. People loved the simplicity of the slot machine, though, and they became a staple of the gambling world. Until gambling was banned in the early part of the 20th century, that is, but it made a comeback in 1931 and even in the prohibition period slot machines survived and many ‘covert’ gambling slot machines were produced.
In 1964 microprocessors entered the slot machine world to improve security and functionality. This allowed the operators to increase the complexity of the games exponentially and add a new element of strategy. This increased again with the introduction of video slot machines in 1975 and this allowed different games to develop their own specific flavour and techniques.
While the simplicity of the slot machine was part of its initial appeal and any machine is still accessible to a novice, this added depth proved a hit with seasoned players as the ‘pros’ believe they have an edge when it comes to playing the machine. That in turn drove profits and prize funds to incredible heights and even today the slots machines are the most profitable part of the biggest Las Vegas casinos.
Now there is almost every permutation of slot machine, with 3D machines bringing a mind-boggling level of strategy to what was once a simple game. With the online world offering even more possibilities, there is an online slots machine for everybody.
So line up and give those reels a whirl.