online slots

Waving Goodbye to the One-Armed Bandits

Editorial Team Avatar
Nov 1, 2019
3 min reading time

The first slot machines looked quite different from the online slots we are used to seeing today. The technical advancement of slots has enabled people from all over the world to gain access to thousands of new games that feature high-quality graphics, engaging gameplay, and attractive bonuses.

one-armed-banditThe ancestor of all modern slots came about in 1891, in New York, and it was initially based on poker. It featured five drums which displayed 50 cards, and you had to put a nickel and pull a lever to win prizes such as beers or cigars from the bar.

As you had to pull the lever with one arm and sometimes end up losing your nickel, the slot machine got the nickname – the One-Armed Bandit.

A few years later, Charles August Fey invented his own slot machine in 1894. The “Card Bell” was the first three-reel slot, and it was based on poker, hence its name. Even if it still required you pull the lever, the improvement was that it gave automatic payouts. The following year, he created the Liberty Bell, which is regarded as the first proper slot machine.

As in 1910, slots started to get banned, and cash prizes could no longer be dispersed, and this, in turn, led to the creation of fruit machines. The Industry Novelty Company and Mills Novelty Company started making slots with fruit symbols, which dispensed chewing gum as prizes when you pulled the lever and won.

These slot machines with the fruit and bar symbols (derived from the logo of the Bell-Fruit company) ended up being the standard for the following century, and this style is still found in contemporary online slots. In the UK, fruit machines were very popular in pubs, cafes, and amusement arcades.

The first fruit machines also enabled the players to nudge the reel downwards to increase their chances of getting a winning combination.

With the passing of years, these machines evolved into electromechanical slots, which introduced more bonus features and payout options, such as three-coin multipliers. The first electromechanical slot created by Bally Manufacturing Co. in 1963, called Money Honey, had a payout of 500 coins, which was a groundbreaking feature at the time. While it still required a lever to start the game, the reels were not affected by the lever, as they were operated by the electric system of the machine.

As the popularity of these slots increased, they soon lost their mechanical features, with the lever being ultimately replaced by a button.

Then came the 70s, introducing the first slots to feature a video screen. These slot machines became very popular and, not long after, you could find them in all Las Vegas casinos.

With the advent of the internet era, slots evolved to adapt to the online format. The online slots of today are far more advanced in terms of graphics, bonuses, and gameplay than the first iterations, and they can be found in virtually any style or theme you can think of, even classic fruit machines or video poker games.

From the one-armed bandit, video slots to 3D and online slots, these machines have come a long way in the past century, and they will most likely continue to adapt to the new technological developments of our time.

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