Whether you are playing online or at a retail casino, one of the most popular genres of casino games you will come across are slots. They are not only some of the easiest games to learn and play, but they also come with lots of exciting features. The themes are interestingly diverse and many of them offer progressive jackpots with mind-blowing cash prizes.
However, slots have not always been the same as they are now. Like other aspects of the gambling industry, slot machines have evolved immensely over the decades. In this guide, we look at the history of slots and their journey to what they are today.
The 1890s: Where It All Begun
The very first slot machines can be traced back to the 19th century. Invented by Charles August Fey, the first slot machine was developed by Sittman and Pitt, a New York-based company in 1981. This slot machine was the earliest iteration and had all the hallmarks of what we largely consider to be the classic slots.
To play these games, players had to insert money into a slot on the machine. They would then pull a lever that would result in the reels spinning. Any player who managed to line up poker hands on the reels received a payout.
At the time, these early slot machines were not sophisticated enough to directly pay out winnings. As such, the players had to collect their winnings from the cashier at the casino. In most cases, the payouts were not money. Instead, the winners received drinks, meals or even cigars.
As the machines grew in popularity, they began their storied evolution. Fey went on to advance the original slot machine by adding a mechanism that would allow for automatic payouts. This marked the entry of symbols and reels in slot machines. The first machines of the era had 3 reels and 5 symbols.
Early to mid-1900s: An Explosion in the Popularity of Slots
Slot machines exploded in popularity shortly after the introduction of Fey’s invention. The inventor’s competitors saw the potential of the game and since there was no patent for it, quickly capitalized on it. At the time, the numbers grew from a few hundred to several thousand.
Most of the slot machines of this era were called fruit machines. That is because instead of Fey’s classic symbols they used fruit symbols. In addition to that, the winnings were paid in flavored rewards like candy and chewing gum. All the machines relied on mechanical components. Many players loved this as it gave them a feeling of control over the potential outcome.
Later in the 1960s, the world was introduced to electromechanical slots. These took the fun a notch higher by adding features such as multiplies which are still a big deal even today.
The 1970s and the Arrival of Video Slots
The age of electromechanical slots was short-lived. That is likely because those were meant to be an indication of the transition to digitized gambling. Video slots eventually took over bringing an end to the massive popularity that mechanical slots had enjoyed since the late 1800s.
Video slots came with a ton of amazing innovations. One of their biggest selling points was the progressive jackpots that they offered. Naturally, lots of people would be drawn to these amazing machines that could potentially up to millions to the lucky winners.
The 1990s and 2000s: Enter the Online Slot Machine
As it turns out, the arrival of video slots was all about making way for the next step in the genre’s evolution. The internet boom of the 90s took the world by storm and the gambling industry was not left behind. Video slots, being one of the most popular gambling options, did not take too long to transition to the iGaming space.
Software developers quickly stepped in to offer solutions to the increasing demand for online gambling experiences. Considering their simplicity, slot machines did not face a lot of friction as they transitioned to the digital space. To make it even better, they continued to evolve even further online.
Today, they come in all shapes and sizes. There are 3D slots, classic 3-reel slots, 5-reel, and even fruit machines available at the leading online gambling sites. There are many websites allowing players to try the games for free, but SOS Game turned out to be the most valuable source of free slots, counting over 10.000 titles.
They not only come in lots of themes for you to choose from but you also get the chance to compete for progressive jackpots with massive prize pools.
Modern Slots and What the Future Holds
Today, gamers are spoilt for choice when it comes to gambling. Slots can be played on virtually any internet-enabled device. However, the evolution has not stopped. As they now rely extensively on digital technology, the next iteration of slots will be very interesting, to say the least.
Case in point, some developers and operators are already experimenting with Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality. These have proven to have the potential to make the games more immersive than ever. Other technologies such as AI and machine learning are also finding use cases in the sector. There is a lot to look forward to and we cannot wait to see what the slot machines of the future will look like.