The Evolution of Slot Machines: From Physical Reels to Online Slots

Slot machines like the ones you find at Verdecasino have not used to be as complicated as they are today. The first ones in the 1800s were simple machines that had an arm you had to pull. Today, we will take a deeper look at the humble beginnings of the slots and how they came to be and evolved to the way it is now.

Humble Beginnings

The first slot machine was actually a poker-inspired game. It first came around in 1891 and cost a nickel to play. Players had to drop a nickel and pull the arm to spin the wheels. It is why it was also called the one-armed bandit. The machine had five drums, and each drum had a set of common playing cards. The goal was to make a good poker hand to win. The best hands had the biggest prizes. 

The slot machine spun or rotated all five drums. The thing was that the creators of this poker slot removed two cards, which gave them an edge. At this point, the prizes were not in the form of cash but freebies. It was not possible to dispense cash with their technology at that time. 

If a player won, they had to notify the bartender, and it was the bartender who would distribute the prizes, such as free drinks or food. From here onwards, different companies jumped into the bandwagon. They built their own versions of the slot machines. Some of the most notable companies that made slots of this kind were Liberty Bell, Operator Bell, Money Honey, and Fortune Coin. 

Liberty Bell created the first slot machine that dispensed coins as prizes. Operator Bell, on the other hand, came up with the first slot that had the fruit symbol instead of cards. They released this version in 1907, and it became what we now know as the classic.  

Money Honey created the first slot that used electric power, and this model was released in 1964. Fortune Coin, on the other hand, was the first company that released a slot on a television monitor. It is why it was called a “video slot machine.”

Fortune made a lot of money from its creation. It was the first modern slot machine, and they used a modified TV monitor by Sony. They released it in Las Vegas, and it became an instant hit. In 1978, IGT acquired the Fortune Coin Company, including the patent for the video slot. 

Digital Modern Slots

Time passed by, and nothing much happened in the gambling industry. Then the internet happened. In 1996, the company called WMS released a slot that operated online. It was called Reel ‘Em, and it had a bonus round. WMS used the concept of digital games in casino titles. In this game, a lucky player could trigger a bonus round that gave him a better chance of winning. From here, almost new slots in the world used bonuses so to attract more players.

Then came Microgaming, the company that made the first online casino. At this point in the mid-1990s, players had to download what was called a “client.” A client was a software program that needed to be installed on the PC to make the gambling software work.

Because of what Microgaming did, slots became more accessible, and companies began developing more variants that had not only bonuses but also jackpots. The problem at this time was that only financially well-to-do people could place bets online. Only players who could afford to buy a PC could access online casinos. 

Then, Apple released the iPhone in 2007, and it changed the way the world works. After iPhone, Samsung dominated the phone market, especially with the Android operating system. As phones became more and more internet-friendly, casinos and online gambling became more accessible. 

Present State of Slots

The slot machines that we play today are what we call top-of-the-line. There are so many features now that people in the past would never believe these things could exist. 

Here are some of the most modern slot features today:

  • Multiple Jackpots – these games have mini, minor, major, and grand jackpots
  • Payline Count – possible winning combos, a game can have tens of thousands of paylines. In the past, there was only one payline. 
  • Bonuses – many casino games today offer bonuses. There are pick-me bonuses, free spins bonuses, and so much more. 

Slot machines will be here to stay. They will evolve as technology evolves. Right now, the priority of many game developers is to use Virtual Reality in casinos. Once this technology matures, we can say without a doubt that casino players will be able to “walk” inside a virtual casino and play virtual slots.