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Who Invented the Slot Machine?

who invented the slot machine

Slot machines have been around for well over a century, providing entertainment to generations of players. Although slot machines have evolved significantly over time – becoming machines offering more complex games and bigger jackpots – their roots can still be traced to when they were first developed in late 19th century Europe. As to who invented them – that story begins here.

Charles Fey was a Bavarian immigrant living in San Francisco during the 1880s who is widely credited with inventing and pioneering the first coin-operated gambling machine with automatic payouts: known as Liberty Bell. This machine mimicked poker by using three spinning reels that displayed heart, diamond, spade, horseshoes, and the Liberty Bell as its symbols – offering small jackpot payouts of 50 cents or 10 nickels for an entire set of symbols aligning across all three reels simultaneously.

Fey’s machine was an instantaneous hit and set the foundation for modern gambling machines. Electronic components weren’t added to modern slot machines until 1960s, enabling more complex and varied games and the implementation of progressive jackpots where winning combinations grow larger with each spin of the reels.

Fey’s invention remains uncertain, yet historians generally acknowledge his role in initiating modern slot machines in the late 19th century. Before this point, poker-themed machines were popular among bars and saloons but did not feature cash payouts. Instead, gamblers would insert a nickel and pull a lever to deal themselves cards which might lead to prizes like free beer or cigars.

After Fey’s slot machine became a success, other manufacturers started to tweak its design in different ways to produce variations on its theme. Some early machines replaced card suits with fruit symbols, awarding winning combinations with chewing gum in accordance with flavor – eventually becoming known as cherries, watermelons and BAR symbols we see today on slot machines.

As more states regulated gambling, slot machine popularity reached unprecedented heights. By the 1980s, these devices had become ubiquitous in casinos, hotels, and entertainment venues worldwide – even traditional casinos began adding modern slot machines with higher jackpots that operated with push buttons instead of pulling levers. Even after they were outlawed in some states, their appeal never diminished; governments soon saw slot machines as a source of tax revenue.

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