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Slots : Slots History - Beginning at the Roots

By admin

Level: Jan 10th 2010

Slot machines are recognized around the world as a symbol for gambling. In fact, you could literally look at the machine and right away you would identify it with gambling itself. Slot machine are a hugely popular collectible for people to have in their homes.

In a casino, of course, the machine represents a game that is arguably the most valuable to the house, not only in the brick and mortar environment but in the online world as well. As it's evolved over the years, it has also become very much a cultural phenomenon, and many of the "branded" versions of slots have a genuine connection with pop culture.

So how did the slot machine come to be, and how did it gain so much popularity?

You've got to go back to the 19th century to come up with part of the answer to that question.

A company called Sittman and Pitt of Brooklyn, New York developed a machine back in 1891 that contained five "drums" along with fifty card faces. It was relatively similar to a five-card stud game; at the end of the round it was the best poker hand that wound up winning. The machines were popular in the hospitality establishments in and around New York City, and since no money was paid out of the machine, prizes were given out on an arbitrary basis by management. The reality is that this was actually a forerunner to the video poker machine; not longer after, though, something more specifically connected to the slot machine we know today was devised.

The city of origin for the slot machine was probably San Francisco, and the inventor would have been Charles Fey, a mechanic by trade who drew up and built the machine in his shop. Reports of the date are a bit fuzzy, but the San Francisco Chronicle documented a demonstration Fey made for his new machine back in 1887.

Even though the term "slot machine" was used for the device, it brought confusion, because that term was also used for an automated vending machine that dispensed items like candy or cigarettes. After a while, the slot machine became, well, the slot machine.

Fey was essentially the inventor of the three-reel slot machine. They had symbols that were derived from card decks, in addition to horseshoes and bells. There was also a cracked Liberty Bell symbol on each reel. So it also took on the monicker "Liberty Bell Machine."

This particular machine was triggered when the player put a coin into it. Then there was an arm handle that had to be pulled. The reels stopped automatically at some point, and the symbols that appeared on the center "line" would determine winning or losing. The ultimate was to get three Liberty Bells in a row, which would produce a payoff of 50 cents.

And the whole thing was off and running.

Lesson 1: Slot Machine History
Learn how the one arm bandits where created
Lesson 2: Slot Machine Rules
The basics to playing Slots
Lesson 3: Slot Machine Tips
Simple strategies for these chance machines
Lesson 4: Slot Machine Vocabulary
Learn slot machine terms

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Casino Articles //  Slots //  Slots History - Beginning at the Roots


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