A brief history of slot games

Do you know where slot machines came from? These games have been a fixture in casinos for decades, so it’s hard to imagine them not being there. But, in terms of casino games, Slots are a relative newcomer to the stage. 

Games like Roulette and Blackjack have had a place at the table for centuries, while slot machines only got their start around the turn of the 20th century. They’ve come a long way in the decades since, evolving from simple fruit machines to far more advanced games like Big Bass Bonanza. 

So, from humble mechanical inventions to the sleek modern games of today, let’s take a walk through the history of slot games. 

Photo by Ays Be on Unsplash

Slot machines are born 

The history of Slots starts in the late 19th century as manufacturers created the first slot machines. There’s some debate as to who got there first and in what year, but most agree that Charles Fey was the one to really hit the nail on the head. 

Before him, the machines were something a little closer to video Poker in design. Players aimed to create a particular Poker hand when they spun the reels, with 50 different card faces printed on a set of three reels. 

Charles Fey created a far simpler, more streamlined design that proved even more popular. The Liberty Bell became a major hit after it debuted in 1895, with its three reels and a much smaller selection of symbols.  

The pivot to fruit machines 

As popular as Fey’s set of symbols proved, other developers needed a way to set themselves apart. This is when the idea of putting fruit symbols on the reels began, with many new slot machines featuring lemons, cherries, and other fruits as the stars of the show. 

Tightening laws also encouraged the switch from more traditional gaming images to fruit, with winning combinations determining what flavour of chewing gum players could receive. But over time the fruit symbols themselves became an iconic part of Slots. 

Electrical innovation 

After several decades of purely mechanical slot machines, technology called for a change. As mechanical Slots were vulnerable to external factors, developers were quick to make the switch to electronic components. 

With their extra visual flourishes and the ability to automate payouts, electronic Slots were a major step forward. But the biggest revolution came with the introduction of video Slots in the 1970s. 

Swapping out physical reels for a screen, video Slots were able to deliver even more modern gameplay. With the help of the random number generator (RNG), the results of any given spin were now completely unpredictable and random. 

Developers were freed from the physical constraints of mechanical and electromechanical slot machines, allowing them to create even more innovative slot games. This saw the introduction of even more reels, variable paylines, extra features, and more. 

The shift to online Slots 

Once Slots made the jump to online platforms this helped to evolve the format even further. Rather than going to a land-based casino, players can now access games from their computer or mobile device, wherever they have a reliable internet connection. 

This allowed for an even greater variety of Slots to emerge, with games based on themes as diverse as ancient civilisations, popular TV shows, and fishing. Players can even choose to play classic Slots, which hark back to the older designs that helped to pave the way for the more modern formats. 


Where slot machines go from here is anyone’s guess, with technology constantly advancing and creating the potential for fresh twists on the classic slot formula. 

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