Since the first slot machines came to prominence in America at the end of the 19th century, they have changed a lot. The game itself might still feel similar, but the way the mechanics work and all the extras have changed the concept significantly. This is not a bad thing; it’s good for updates to happen as long as they retain the features that people really enjoyed. So let’s take a look at the key milestones that have made so much difference before arriving to Slotzo slots.
1895 was when Charles Fey released the Liberty Bell, the first slot machine that we would recognise. There had been other attempts before, and Fey’s design was even a variation on some of these ideas, but this is the one that caught the public’s imagination and made them really want to play. It paid out real money, for one thing, and this was very new. Plus it was easy to play; you just had to pull a handle down (so it was called a one armed bandit – it would steal your money a lot of the time).
The Liberty Bell had three reels and five symbols per reel. In the past, there had been five drums, and those drums had real playing cards on them. Over time they would fall apart or get stuck, so having reels with images drawn on them made a lot more sense and made the game easier to play. The symbols used incorporated the old playing card idea and had diamonds, hearts, and spades. Fey added horseshoes and the Liberty Bell itself which would be the jackpot symbol.
In 1902 gambling was banned across most of the US. Fey changed his Liberty Bell so that instead of money it paid out gum, and therefore got round the regulations where his competitors failed. The bar symbol you can still see today signified this change.
Gambling games couldn’t be patented as a whole, although parts of the mechanisms could be, and that meant that, after a few years, others created similar games. They all operated on the same premise, but were slightly different.
Slot machines stayed pretty much the same for almost 60 years after these new games were introduced. However, in 1964 a game developer called Bally created Money Honey. This was different to anything that had gone before because it was an electromechanical slot. There was still a lever, but the reels were operated electrically and the handle wasn’t really necessary, it was just used to make people feel familiar with the game before they played. In reality, a button would have done just as well.
More and more of these electromechanical slots were introduced until they became the norm. The next big milestone occurred in 1996. This was a game called Reel ‘Em by WMS Industries. The difference between this game and all the others was the fact that this one had a bonus game, and it was the first time anyone had tried that idea. Today it’s expected, but back in 96 it was unique.
At the same time, online slots were being developed. This, perhaps more than anything else, was what made slot games more mainstream and popular. Before online slots, they could only be played in casinos, or perhaps in a pub or club if there was a fruit machine. Online slots meant that anyone could play, and that was an important milestone indeed.