In the Beginning
The very first slot machine to be created was called the Liberty Bell. The name refers to the picture of a cracked Liberty Bell which is one of the symbols on the reels. Spinning three Liberty Bells was enough to win the grand prize: 50 cents. It may not sound like much, but the slot machine was invented in 1895, and the worth of the dollar has inflated greatly over the past century, which means that, accounting for all of the change that money has undergone, 50 cents was actually worth closer to $15. Not too shabby for…actually, that’s pretty terrible.
Each of the original Liberty Bell machines was crafted by the inventor, Charles Fey, in his shop. The new way to gamble gathered a lot of attention, and pretty soon Fey could not build them fast enough to meet the demand of the casinos. Finally, in 1907, an arcade machine manufacturer named Herbert Mills copied Fey’s idea, added some pictures of fruit, and started selling them.
Rocking Down to Electric Avenue
After Herbert Mills’s knock-off, everyone started doing it. Slot machines developed different classes, from penny slots to dollar slots. They started including the ability to increase the bet. They also developed the all-important flashing lights and bleeping sounds. The first electronic slot machine hit the market in 1975, created by the Fortune Coin Company. The slot machine was part of a bigger movement in gambling technology, with the creation of electronic roulette, poker, dice games, and all sort of electronic gambling technology. Modern slot machines are entirely electronic. They may have pulleys and display spinning reels, but the inside is just a computer with a random number generator.
Changing the Odds
Charles Fey’s original slot machine had five symbols on each reel: hearts, diamonds, spades, horseshoes, and the Liberty Bell. Herbert Mill’s slot machines had three reels with 10 symbols on each. Modern slot machines typically have 20 symbols and three reels. This means the chance to win on the original machine was 5 in 125, or 4%, and modern slot machines. The next version to come out had a winning chance of 10 in 1,000, or a 1% win chance, and modern slot machines have a 20 in 8,000 chance, or a quarter of a percent chance of rolling all three of the same result. Of course, a win on a modern slot machine can mean a million dollars.