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History Of Slots

slots guide
slots guide

History of slots

1. History of slots

slots guide

Slot machines have a long and distinguished history. Over the years they have developed, embracing new technology, to the present day where they can be played from anywhere on the planet, at any time of the day or night. Here’s how it all happened.

2. The invention of slot machines

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slots guide

The invention of slots dates back to the tail end of the 19th century in the USA. Sittman and Pitt of Brooklyn, NY developed a gaming machine containing five drums holding a total of 50 card faces. Although gameplay was based around poker, it’s widely believed that this was the precursor to the modern slot.


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A few years later in the early 1890s, an enterprising man called Charles fey of San Francisco, California, devised a simpler version of the drum game, containing just three spinning reels marked with symbols, including a Liberty Bell, which gave the machine its name. The modern slot machine was born, and quickly grew in popularity, fired by the increased chances of winning.


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Variants were developed throughout the first half of the 20th century but it wasn’t until 1963 that the first fully electromechanical slot machine was created by Bally.


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From these innovations an entire industry and one of the world’s most popular pastimes was born.

3. The fruit machine

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It wasn’t long before slot machines ‘crossed the pond’ and became popular in the UK. By this time, the symbols used on the reels included various fruits, such as cherries, lemons, bananas and more.

This led to the adoption of the term ‘fruit machine’ to identify the newly imported slots. The name caught on and it wasn’t long before every pub in the country had it’s own fruit machine, or ‘fruity’ for short, twinkling away in the corner.

4. Las Vegas

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Despite being developed in both New York and California, the spiritual home of the slot machine is, of course, Las Vegas. The city is historically one of the few places in the US where you can gamble legally.

This saw this small desert town grow into the glitzy and glamorous entertainment capital of the world, boasting vast casino hotels.

The bread and butter of these gaming empires has always been the humble slot. Inspired by the good odds of winning, simplicity of gameplay and iconic ‘one armed bandit’ design, the slots were the foundation stone of the whole Vegas mythology.

Today, vast gaming floors are filled with slots of all shapes, sizes and designs imaginable.

5. Video and online slots

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Of course, it was only natural that the slots would embrace new technology. Having gone electric in the 60s, the 70s saw the advent of the video slot. Developed in 1976 by Kearny Mesa, in Las Vegas (where else?) it was approved for use by the Nevada State Gaming Commission in 1978.

Since then they have continued to grow in popularity, increasing in programming complexity. Today they have almost completely replaced their mechanical ancestors on the gaming floors.

The next logical progression after the dawn of the internet age was always going to be online slots. Once the programming and security was sophisticated enough to handle the games, they started to appear online and have never looked back.

6. Mobile Slots

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With the coming of smart phone technology, wireless networks and 3 and 4G, it is now possible to play online slots anywhere. On the commute, on holiday, or just on the couch at home, just sign in, place your bets and away you go.

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Since 888 launched mobile slots back at the start of 2012, the percentages of players depositing, registering and making first time deposits (FTDs) have grown from 0% to 43%, 47% and 49% respectively. This represents a huge growth in the online market in a small space of time.

In the first half of 2015, 888 has also seen mobile use driving growth across all its slots products to reach 43% of all UK play. That’s nearly half of all players using their mobile platform to play slots rather than a PC or laptop. It’s a trend that looks likely to grow year on year.

Slot machines have come a long way - from their early incarnations as crude reels with playing cards stuck down to modern, sophisticated mobile gaming. But the allure and appeal, as well as the basic rules of gameplay, have remained very much the same - and probably will for years to come.

Unsurprisingly, the growth of mobile slots is echoing the gradual move to internet use on mobile devices rather than PCs. The development of apps, 4G technology, and the spread of wifi has allowed more users to play slots online, on the go, rather than at a PC terminal.


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