From the 3-reel one-armed bandit played in saloons to the highly graphical and animated designs of today, slot machines have seen so many technological advancements over the years. Even in the 21st century, slots are still being improved to keep up with the advancement of technology. In this article, we explore the development of slot gaming technology in more detail.
The early slot machines
The first gambling machine was designed by inventors Sittman and Pitt in 1891. At this stage, the concept of the slot machine did not exist, and the invention allowed players to insert a nickel to play a single hand of Poker, instead.
The main idea behind the game was to pull the lever and hope that the resulting cards would form a winning hand. One of the most interesting aspects of this early slot machine is the fact that there was no mechanism for automatic, cash payouts. Therefore, bar owners would offer prizes like a free drink or a couple of cigars.
Sittman and Pitt’s machine was popular enough, but the bar owners wanted something capable of automatic cash payouts. Luckily, a few years later, an inventor named Charles Fey came up with an automatic payout mechanism.
He built a slot machine with three spinning reels containing five symbols – horseshoe, diamond, spade, heart and Liberty Bell. Players would pull the lever on the side of the machine and wait for the reels to stop.
The Liberty Bell was banned in California a few years after it was introduced, but it paved the way for automatic cash payouts and slot gaming that was independent of establishment offers.
Slot machines continued to evolve through the early 20th century. The early 1960s saw the invention of the first electromechanical slot machines, and Bally’s Money Honey was the most famous of them.
The electromechanical construction of Money Honey became the basis of what we now call the ‘one-arm bandit’. The machine incorporated automatic payouts of up to 500 coins, and the technology used in it was so advanced that there was no need for an attendant.
Video slot machines
The next generation of slot machines took the electro-mechanical concept and adapted it to the video screen. Video slots were introduced in the mid-1970s by a Las Vegas manufacturer using modified 19-inch colour screens.
The introduction of video slots played a major role in helping developers understand how electronic systems could be hacked and they eventually developed slot machines that were virtually cheat-proof.
Modern video slots
The modern video slot games available today are just the logical evolution of the 1970s video slot machines. Today’s games incorporate the basics of the classic one-arm bandit with the video paradigm of the 1970s, combined with high-quality graphics and mesmerizing soundtracks.
And because technology now has so much raw power built-in, developers can go beyond simple slots to include all sorts of bonuses and extra features. In essence, they have combined the one-armed bandit with the Video Poker game to take the slot gaming experience to a whole new level.