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Explaining the history behind the slot machine

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  • Digital Team 

Slot machines have long been one of the staples of the casino world, despite being a relative latecomer compared to games like Roulette. Over the last century and a bit, they have developed significantly, going from mechanical curiosities to digital behemoths.

So, how did we get from the classical fruit machine to games like Age of the Gods Slots? Follow us as we explore the history and evolution of the humble slot machine.

The first slot machines

Our journey starts in the late 19th century in the US. The first real precursor to the modern slot machine was unveiled in 1891 by the company Sittman and Pitt. It looked quite different to the Slots we know today, being based on the game of Poker.

The machine had a total of five drums, with the reels showing 50 different card faces. Players aimed to land a combination that would form a valid Poker hand, the higher value the better. But a big drawback of these games was the fact that the machine itself couldn’t read the outcome and control the potential payout.

Mechanic Charles Fey was the one who really pushed the slot machine towards its recognisable form. The Liberty Bell slot machine simplified the game, dropping the number of reels to just three and doing away with all the playing card symbols.

The diamonds, hearts, spades, horseshoes and Liberty Bells remain classic symbols to this day. Cutting the number of symbols and reels lowered the number of potential combinations of a spin, making it easier for the Liberty Bell to read the payline and make an automatic payout.

Competitors would go on to use various fruits as the symbols on their own machines, which is why Slots are often referred to as fruit machines.

The electrical revolution

We’re skipping over a few decades, but the next major step forward for Slots came when developers moved over to electromechanical designs in the 1960s. By switching out the traditional, mechanical components with electronic ones, new elements and gameplay features could come into play.

The changing internal workings of the slot machine saw the physical reels replaced by a screen that displayed digital reels instead. Video Slots quickly took off and most of the slot game cabinets you’ll see today are fully electromechanical.

This change led to developers adding in extra reels – with many games using five or more – as well as more paylines and additional gameplay mechanics. More varieties of slot games popped up as developers could more easily differentiate their offerings on factors other than just symbols and theme.

Slots go online

Once the Internet rolled around, many casinos began to experiment with online gaming. Slots adapted particularly well to the digital landscape, as they had already largely moved over to an electronic basis.

Freed from the constraints of a physical slot game cabinet, developers could innovate even further with their games. This led to formats like Megaways, which does away with the traditional paylines and uses reels that can display between two and seven symbols on any given spin.

With technology always evolving we can only wait and see how slot games will evolve next.

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