UNITED STATES—As we hurtle almost one quarter into the 21st century, it can often be easy to take the comforts and conveniences of modern life for granted. The digital age has risen like an electronic tsunami, sweeping us along with barely any pause for thought, having quickly grown accustomed to the latest gadgets and tools at our disposal, including those which keep us entertained.

Now that most of us carry smartphones and tablets, while desktop devices are still important and commonplace in our everyday lives, they almost seem antiquated considering we now have access to everything we need in the palm of our hands. Mobile gaming has become phenomenally popular in the last couple of decades, turning a pastime previously thought of as being nerdy, into something pretty much everyone does.

There are games of every kind and to suit every interest, from those aimed at massive social interaction to those we can enjoy in our own private bubble. But amongst the mainstays is one game that feels like it has been around forever, which first came to mechanical life during the industrial revolution, rode the lightning into the electronic age, then dazzled its way into the digital age. Known simply as the slots, boy has this game evolved over time.

Creating the iconic Liberty Bell slot machine

Although it wasn’t the first slot game concept invented, the Liberty Bell was indeed the first true mechanical slot machine that automated paying cash prizes. Compared to earlier machines, often with no automated mechanism and cards glued to a spinning drum, this new and fully automated slot machine would go on to revolutionize gaming in saloons and bars, before spreading throughout the United States and becoming the mainstay of casinos.

The Liberty Bell was designed by Charles Fey, who hailed originally from Bavaria in Germany. After initial travels, working as a farming tool manufacturer in France and England, this aspiring young mechanic moved to the United States, joining his uncle in New Jersey. Following further travels around his new country, Fey eventually became employed by the Western Electric Works, which is what brought him to settle in San Francisco, California.


(the first slot machine ever made — the 1898).

In the mid-1880’s Fey established his own company, albeit in partnership with Gustav Freidrich Wilhelm Shultze, another German immigrant who had already created the “Horseshoe Slot Machine” in 1883. This was the first machine to incorporate an automatic payout machine, albeit only providing winning spins with tokens or tickets, which could later be redeemed for prizes. Fey took that idea and enhanced it, creating the first cash payout mechanism.

According to JSTOR archives provided by ITHAKA, the first Liberty Bell slot machine was placed in a San Francisco saloon, thought to be somewhere along the Embarcadero in 1898, shortly after Fey had established his own company and workshop in 1897. From that moment onwards, Fey could barely keep up with demand, as his automated slot machine became hugely popular throughout the USA, essentially paving the way for the machines and slot games we know today.

Slot machines.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.

Evolution of the Basic Slots Game Concept

While the basic idea for slot machines remained the same for several decades, the next big leap came in 1963 with Money Honey, designed and built by pinball machine manufacturer Bally. This was the first electromechanical slot machine, which also featured a bottomless hopper and could pay up to 500 coins. This directly inspired a boom for electronic games and arcade machines.

Kearny Mesa in California would be the location where the next step in slot machines came. In 1976, the Fortune Coin Company launched their first ever video slot machine, featuring a modified 19-inch Sony Trinitron TV instead of the physically spinning reels, while mechanical functions were replaced by circuit boards and wiring. This brought about a whole new era for the slots, sparking the fusion between traditional casino entertainment and video gaming.

From filling out casino floors in Las Vegas and elsewhere around the world, access to playing slots has never been easier, with this classic game having smoothly transitioned into the digital age. Online casinos are now packed with thousands of slots themed around everything we could possibly imagine, from sports to movies and much more. For this reason, it’s worth checking a detailed guide for online casino bonus codes and how to find them.

Online casinos always offer bonuses and promotions we can claim, although it always pays to find sites that are fully licensed, able to provide the type of bonus deal that suits your preferences. Reading reviews is the best way to get a safe and fun gambling experience, looking for casinos that provide all the slots you enjoy, which are also licensed by reputable gambling authorities.

The Future of Slots

Back when he created the first mechanical payout machine, Charles Fey probably would never have dreamed how much his concept was going to evolve. He quite literally left the world spinning with his invention, and while the world itself keeps on spinning around the sun, new ideas incorporating virtual reality and other exciting advances are already on the way. They will keep the basic idea alive and ensure we are entertained by slots for generations to come.