Slot Machine History - Charles Fey and Liberty Bell
While the slot machine may seem as though it is a relatively modern invention, games of chance are actually not that new. They have been around for centuries. It is not precisely known when casino games first originated. Some of the most popular casino games were developed in the United States and are still in operation today. The slot machine dates back to San Francisco in the late 19th century.
It was in 1887 that Charles Fey invented the casino game that is still one of the most popular casino games around the world. The slot machine was not actually the first coin operated game of chance. Prior to the slot machine there had been other coin operated poker machines which allowed players to play for winnings of free drinks, cigars, etc. All of these games had one thing in common; players were paid with a type of merchandise. As a result, these games were known as trade stimulator games.
The difference with the machine that Fey invented is that it was the first machine that was specifically designed to pay players in coins, although they were originally listed as paying out in drinks in order to get around gaming laws at the time. Fey's first slot machine featured three reels. Each of the reels on the machine featured ten printed symbols. These symbols included spades, horseshoes, hearts, diamonds and bells. Any player that lined up three bells won the top prize or the jackpot. This first machine was known as a bell machine as a result.
The machine worked by the player inserting a coin and then pulling an arm or handle, which would start the wheels on the machine spinning. It immediately became clear that the machine would be wildly popular. More than one hundred years later, slot machines are still immensely popular, although they have certainly evolved some over the years and there are now a wide variety of different types and styles of slot machines available.
Fey's original design became the standard that all machines in the future would be based upon. When the first slot machines were placed in saloons and other locations, the jackpot was fairly limited. Early slot machines became so popular that they quickly spread across the country, despite the fact that there were not many states in which they were actually legal. The first slot machines were installed in Las Vegas in 1940 when Bugsy Siegal decided to place them in the Flamingo casino. Today, slot machines remain popular and account for about 80% of the profits of most casinos.
Unfortunately for Fey, his machine was not protected by patent laws because it was a gaming device. Furthermore, he opted not to sell the machines but instead placed them inside saloons and other locations and collected a rental fee on the machines. While Fey clearly did not make a fortune on his invention, there is little doubt that his machines have definitely changed the landscape of gaming today.
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