We have seen slots come a long way from the early days in the late 1890’s. Get ready for part II of this fascinating story of evolution.
It Is Far From Over
If you remember earlier this week, I began telling you about the world’s first slot machine. How it evolved from a five reel Poker machine to the three reel Liberty Bell, thanks to Charles August Fey.
A ban on gambling in his home state of California did little to put a stop on the production of it. However, a nationwide ban on all slot machines in 1902 did create a hiccup in the evolution and instead of cash payout, players had to settle for chewing gum and sweets.
This is when the symbols were switched to different fruits such as melon, lemon and cherries, which at the time symbolized the various flavored gum. The name fruit machine became the norm for the slots but there is a lot left of the story before the slot machine became what it is today.
Let’s continue down the path and our first stop is the legendary One Armed Bandit.
Meet The One Armed Bandit
In terms of the actual mechanics of the machines, not much changed over the years and as a player, you had to pull the lever on the side of the machine for the reels to start spinning. On the inside, a spring was then stretched until you let it go.
Just like today, players were convinced they could figure out a way to control the outcome of the game because of the lever and the manual involvement. This is a classic example of the determination of players and their ability to affect the game and that part has not changed.
As the game’s popularity continued to grow, this is around the time when people started to refer to the game as the “One Armed Bandit”.
Enter the 1920’s and 1930’s
As a country, the US was now going through a time known as the Great Depression but even that wasn’t enough to slow down the ferocious progress of the “One Armed Bandit”. In those days, the Mob was in charge of a lot of the gambling business but the government wasn’t going to give up complete control, no sir.
Instead, restrictions and legislation became even tougher and by 1951, the ban outside of Nevada was pretty much complete. The reason why Nevada wasn’t affected was that it had legalized gambling 20 years earlier once they realized how much they could profit from the tax revenues surrounding gambling.
While things were getting wild in Las Vegas, the rest of the world had to wait until after World War II had come to an end. State after state, government after government, they all needed to boost their economy and one of the quickest ways to do it was to capitalize on the gambling taxes, just like Nevada.
What Is Ballyhoo and Who Is Bally?
Have you ever heard of Bally? If the answer is no, let me ask you again a bit later. In 1932, the Bally Manufacturing Corporation was one of the biggest players. The reason it got its name is because the first ever pinball machine that they created was known as “Ballyhoo”.
After succeeding in the pinball business, Bally also manufactured airplane parts during the war. What’s the next move you think? To enter the world of gaming of course where they felt they could make major improvements to already existing slots.
This move would establish Bally as a powerhouse not only in pinball, but also in Bingo, slots and vending machines. It didn’t take long until Bally controlled as much as 90%(!) of the world’s slot market.
Money Honey – The First Fully Electric Slot
When the creative team at Bally managed to come up with the first fully electromechanical slot in 1963, it was a big deal. So what do you name a groundbreaking invention like that? Money Honey of course.
Money Honey was the first slot that was able to pay players right there on the spot. With this new version in play and taking over the industry, the need for the lever on the side was now removed. You can still see it in many places in Las Vegas for example and despite being more of a prop, the lever is still fun to pull sometimes just for old times sake.
Gaming Laws Call for a Skill Stop
Yes, the gaming industry was running wild with the new machines but as a government you can let it become the Wild West. There still has to be laws and regulations put in place and especially in New Jersey, the state politicians called for players to have some sort of control and impact on the outcome of the game.
It wasn’t until the 1970’s that Zacharias Anthony came up with the Skill Stop button. With this added, players would be able to stop the reels whenever they wanted. If this was this “skill” or if the outcome was still up to the casino Gods remained unanswered but it was enough to take care of the legal requirements
Extra weights had to be added to the game, which took a while to figure out, but eventually Bally inserted the button in at least 50 of its slots which resulted in them becoming immensely popular in New Jersey.
All of the older versions were now obsolete and a decision was made to have them destroyed.
Bally Is Still a Powerhouse
The success story of Bally continued, as you can imagine and you can find Bally’s in Las Vegas up until just recently. As a matter of fact Bally’s Las Vegas was just renamed and is now called Horseshoe.
To consider Bally a powerhouse in the history if slots is a given and they did a lot to push the boundaries closer to where we are today. I will now ask you the same question: Have you ever heard of Bally or Bally’s? I think you have, especially if you’ve been to Las Vegas.
The World Is Introduced to the Video Slot Machine
It’s taken a long time before Video Slots were used but for obvious technical reasons of course. Did you know that the first ever Video Slot was created all the way back in 1976?
By adding a 19” Sony TV to the slot machine, Fortune Coin Company was the ones to first combine a smooth gambling experience with a much nicer display.
It was first tested at the Las Vegas Hilton Hotel before getting the OK by the difficult Nevada State Gaming Commission. You can imagine the stream of players from all over, making their way to Sin City to put the latest invention to the test.
WMS Industries took the industry even further when launching “Reel ‘Em In”. This hot new game was the first one to feature a second screen bonus round! When you triggered the bonus round, it would pop on a new screen. Oh the wonders of technology, right?
These are things we take for granted today but it was a huge thing in the late 1970’s.
Let’s Play Online
The mid 1990’s sounds like ancient history but it was the era of the World Wide Web. You might be surprised to learn that both Blackjack and Roulette actually beat slots to the punch and were available online first.
Understandably, online games don’t have the same restrictions as the ones on the casino floors in Las Vegas and with today’s computers, sky’s the limit in terms of creativity. There’s also a fierce competition and unless you know what you’re doing, you won’t last long as a company.
An Endless Amount of Providers and Games
Today, the big game providers are able to offer more than 500 different slots and with an endless amount of providers out there, the number of games is so much bigger. Casinos like 7Bit Casino (7,000+ games) and King Billy (5,000+ games) are some of the ones with a crazy amount of games for their players to choose from.
Others such as BitStarz (4,000) and mBit Casino (3,500+) are not far behind either and more games are being released every single day.
A lot of us are already enjoying playing the best online casino games with cryptocurrency. In terms of the actual games, Virtual Reality has slowly made its way into our lives and I’m looking forward to seeing what the future holds in terms of creativity and technical developments. What do you think is next?
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