It was nearly 130 years ago now that two guys, Sittman and Pitt from New York made the first coin slot machine. The machine had a slot where coins were deposited, hence the name ‘coin slot’.
Once the coins were deposited, players pulled a lever on the side of the machine, hence the name ‘one-armed bandit’, and the reels spun.
The reels were made from drums and there were 5 in total, with a total of 50 card faces.
The possible winning hands were based on poker, and the house edge was contained in the 2 cards that were removed from the deck. Interestingly the two cards typically removed from the deck were the ten of spades and the jack of hearts. An extremely elegant piece of engineering.
The Direction of the Evolution
Many bars and public houses had installed these early coin slot machines, but the machine needed to be simplified and automated so as to increase profitability and production rate. Some 5 years later in San Francisco a certain Charles Fey built a coin slot machine with three spinning reels and five symbols. This machine, the famous Liberty Bell coin slot machine, initiated the huge mechanical gaming device industry of coin slots that spread throughout the world.
Technically, the coin slot upped a gear in 1963 when Bally launched an electromechanical slot machine. Now the slot machines being manufactured had a bottomless hopper and an automatic pay out of up to 500 coins. A further upgrade was effected in 1976 when the first video slot machine was produced. Hardly surprisingly this latest coin slot was developed and first put into operation in Las Vegas. In due course these coin slot machines were produced in vast quantities and spread throughout the world.
The Biggest Development of All
Another development that deserves mention in the development of the coin slot is the networking of various games to provide progressive jackpots. This is the enhancement of the very attraction of the first coin slot, that for a nominal coin input, the player could win a large and lucrative jackpot. The progressive jackpots use the networking to build accumulative jackpots that can become extraordinarily high. Hitting the jackpot on a networked machine can therefore win amounts of money that were never dreamt of those 130 years ago.
The State of Casino Play Today
Today, of course, the world of online casino play means that we enjoy games on virtual software creations we glibly refer to as coin slot machines. However, the entire design of the modern game, with spinning reels and paylines, is still made to resemble the original coin slot games played on the mechanical devices.
Few games have ever come close to equalling the success and sheer popularity of the coin slot machine. Even today these devices create some 70% of a casino’s income, and this is both in land-based casinos and online. The popularity has driven some major developments, improvements and upgrades over recent years to the slots games. Apart from the hundreds of new games and state-of-the-art software at online casinos and the volumes of mobile slots games, there are many advances in slots play itself. The theoretical return to player rates have constantly improved, random number generation is highly advanced and second screen games with interactive elements are available.