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History of the Slot Machines

The history of slot machines goes back to 1891 when Sittman and Pitt of New York, created a gambling machine. The machine consisted of five drums bearing fifty card faces.

The game involved inserting a piece of nickel and pulling a lever. This led to the spinning of the drums holding the cards. This ancient method of gambling lacked the payout mechanism and hence, the prizes comprised of a bottle of beer, cigars or drinks, free of cost.

Later, in the mid 1890s, Charles fey, a German, invented the first slot machine. It consisted of three spinning reels displaying five different symbols, viz. horseshoes, diamonds, spades, hearts and a liberty bell. This is why the slot machine was named the 'Liberty Bell'. In 1907, Charles Fey and the Mills Novelty Company further modified this slot machine and this introduced the modern slot machine, also referred to as the'‘Mills Liberty Bell'.

The initial design of the slot machine consisted of a cast iron case having cast iron feet with toes along with a bell that rang whenever a winning combination was hit. Further modifications were made by replacing the cast iron feet with elaborately decorated feet. The bell, however, is known to exist in many modern slot machines of recent times. The three reel strips displayed the playing cards with illustrations of a king, a queen and a jack. Winners received a maximum payout of 50 cents, which was then, a big amount. Besides, the simple auto-payout mechanism in the'‘Liberty Bell' as formulated by Fey, proved to be an added advantage.

In the year 1902, a ban was imposed over the use of the slot machines and this hampered the gambling business. Therefore, the coin machines were replaced with fruit machines, which delivered candy, gums and drinks instead of coins. The reels displayed pictures of gum and fruits, which is why the slot machines came to be known as fruit machines.

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