Slot Machine History Who Invented Them

Slot Machine History Who Invented Them

Slot Machine History Who Invented Them | A Big Question

An enthusiast for gambling who’s always wondered how the original slot machines were made? You’ve come to the correct spot if you want to study anything and everything about the development of slots, from the imposing fathers of the industry, Sittman and Pitt, to the electromechanical slots of today. 

Accurately knowing the background of the creation of slot machines will spice up your everyday gambling experience and make you sound like a great conversation starter with other gamblers.

Thus, start by looking at the timeline of slots’ history before moving on to the infographic below, which shows the evolution of slots over time. 

Additionally, you may listen to our podcast about progressive slots by clicking this link. We speak with Evolution’s Director of Product Innovation, Henrik Fagerlund. Listen to it!

The Protracted History of Slots: Forerunners

The history of slot machines may not be as old as gambling itself, but it certainly extends back to the days before internet gambling was even a concept, much less a reality for anyone. 

The first slot-like machines appeared to provide some spice to the gaming, just two centuries after gambling was recognized as a key form of amusement and a craft throughout Europe. The first slot machine was created in New York City in 1891 by the local business Sittman and Pitt. There were five drums in that specific slot machine, holding fifty playing cards altogether. 

The machine, which cost one cent to play, could be found in many taverns throughout the city for anyone who wanted to play at the time. Players were to insert money into the machine, use their preferred slot methods and tactics, then pull the lever to start playing, just like they would with other slot machines in the future. 

The payoff was due when a player lined up poker hands on the reels. The jack of hearts and ten of spades were taken out of the machine in an attempt to raise the house edge and cut the probability of obtaining a royal flush in half. 

These slot machines lacked a direct payout mechanism, in contrast to those of today. Rather, all victories were non-cash awards given out at the bar. The establishment offered free beverages, cigars, and other complimentary prizes to the winners. How things have changed, oh! 

Slot Machines by Pitt and Sittman

To avoid any confusion, let me clarify that although Sittman and Pitt slot machines are still referred to as the first slot machines ever created, their concept and workings differ from what would eventually be called the “first slot machine”.

Sittman and Pitt slot machines looked more like poker machines than like real slot machines when viewed through the prism of contemporary gambling.

Sittman and Pitt slot machines looked more like poker machines than like real slot machines when viewed through the prism of contemporary gambling.  

While the features of video poker and slot machines both outline the payouts for different combinations, video poker combinations are different since they are predicated on a deck of 52 (or 53) cards. On the other hand, slot machine games lack a particular source of inspiration. Furthermore, the first slot machine in existence permitted automatic payouts. 

Slot Machines by Pitt and Sittman

Charles August Fey’s Liberty Bell Slot Machine was the first ever. 

Although the actual year of the machine’s creation is unknown, Charles Augustus Fey is generally credited as the developer of the first automatic slot machine. Some notes state that Fey built this mechanism somewhere between 1887 and 1895. However, how did he accomplish this automatic slot? 

Sometime between 1887 and 1895, Charles Augustus Fey invented the first automatic slot machine.

by use three reels rather than the current five drums, which lessens the complexity of the machine’s win reading. In addition, just five symbols were used in place of the playing cards: liberty bell, diamonds, spades, hearts, and horseshoes. 

The Liberty Bell slot machine earned its name because it paid out three bell symbols at the highest rate. Numerous slot machine manufacturers replicated the system, albeit with slight modifications, as it became quite successful and Fey chose not to file for a patent on his concept. 

Herbert Mills’ Operator Bell, the First Fruit Machine with a Bar Symbol 

Without Herbert Mills, the history of slot machines wouldn’t be complete.

Despite the formal prohibition on slot machines in 1902, the Liberty Bell continued to be produced. But since cash awards could not be given out any more, it was time for the fruit machine to take center stage and provide some sweets for everyone who was gambling! Hold on, what? You read correctly: these “new” slot machines paid out the proper flavor of chewing gum and candy for each win. The symbols on the machines were fruit. 

The “new” slot machines included fruit symbols, and each winning combination would pay out in the flavor of chewing gum or candy. 

The history of Mills slot machines began in Chicago in 1907 when maker Herbert Mills created the Operator Bell, a machine that would become a staple in Chicago salons, stores, bowling alleys, and tobacco shops in just two years. Do you also recognize the BAR symbol that is so popular these days? It was, in fact, unveiled around this time and was based on the Bell-Fruit corporate emblem.

Bally’s Money Honey Slot Machine: The First Electromechanical Slot Machine to 

Everything changed in 1964 when the Money Honey slot machine was introduced. 

The revolutionary move from exclusively mechanical to electromechanical slots was greeted with both open arms and a hint of skepticism. After all, switching from manually operated machinery that seemed to have a predictable result to a fully electromechanical structure that operated autonomously was certainly innovative. 

The fact that the new slot machine still required pushing a lever to start gave the gamers a sense of familiarity. After all, the lever is the only explanation for why the phrase “one-armed bandits,” sometimes known as bandit machines, originated and for why players cherished the original style of slots so much.

The Bally Money Honey slot machine was the first to feature a bottomless hopper in addition to having all of its reels controlled electrically. An automatic payout of up to 500 coins was made possible by a bottomless hopper, and it was astounding for its time in every aspect.

An automatic payout of up to 500 coins was made possible by a bottomless hopper, and it was astounding for its time in every aspect.

This game helped electromechanical slots gain a lot of popularity! In the end, the lever was taken out of all newly created spaces. 

Fortune Coin: The Original Video Slot by Fortune Coin 

Fortune Coin: The Original Video Slot by Fortune Coin 

In the changing realm of gambling, standing still has never been an option. The first real video slot was created in 1976, ten years after the Money Honey slot machine was first made available.

The first video slot was created ten years after the Money Honey machine was established, making 1976 the birth year of video slots.

Naturally, the first video slot machine was produced by Fortune Coin, a Las Vegas-based business, and it debuted at the Hilton Hotel in Las Vegas. The game featured a 19-inch Sony TV that had been customized for display, and it was unlike anything else that had been seen before. 

The video slot machine received permission from the Nevada State Gaming Commission not long after it was originally released, and the Las Vegas Strip saw a sharp rise in popularity. Fortune Coin was purchased by IGT in just two years after its launch.

WMS’s Reel ‘Em In: First Slot With Bonus Round on Second Screen 

As you may have noticed, there have been a number of noteworthy modifications, twists, and turns throughout the history of slots that have taken gaming in some very intriguing new directions. There’s little doubt that 1996 is the year to keep in mind. At this time, the first video slot machine was introduced, and it was the first machine to have a bonus round on a second screen. 

The first video slot machine was introduced in 1996 and was the first to have a bonus round on a second screen. 

The slot machine, called “Reel ‘Em,” was a big hit! The second screen bonus round on this video slot machine was the first to appear, and when it did, it presented a whole different screen. Throughout this bonus round, players may also earn additional payments. 

This video slot machine, developed by WMS Industries Inc., may have been the catalyst for the industry’s explosive growth and rise to prominence as the most played game in casinos today. In fact, they became so popular that they occupied 70% of the casino floor and generated about 70% of the revenue for the establishment!

Online Slots’ Ascent in Online Gaming 

When the internet first launched in 1983, it brought with it an incredible amount of content and a kind of transformation that very few, if any, of us had anticipated. Many platforms began to emerge as a result of this shift, including online casinos. The history of online casino operations was altered in 1996 with the launch of the first InterCasino online casino. This casino officially launched what is now known as internet gambling the same year when it took its first real money bet. 

The history of online casino operations was altered in 1996 with the launch of the first InterCasino online casino.

Only traditional casino games, like those found in physical casinos, were offered at first. But it didn’t take long for online slots to be introduced, transforming online casinos into popular destinations for enjoyable gaming. 

Slots immediately overtook traditional casino games in an online environment, much like the situation in physical casinos, and went on to dominate the online gambling industry. For a while, the slots’ design, symbol type, and reel count stayed the same as those of land-based slot machines. 

The era of expanding online slots began when computer programming eliminated limitations! Before we knew it, slots had unique designs, more than five reels, a wide range of themes, creative extra features, nearly an endless array of symbols, and unique gaming elements.

The number of slot developers is still growing annually, offering players a huge selection of slots to play and the opportunity to compete in slot tournaments. There are many large and small game producers on the market right now, but some well-known brands, like Microgaming and NetEnt, stand out for their high caliber of game creation and spirit of innovation. 

Collections of Slot Machines and Their Admirers

The older variety of slot machines was completely phased out of use as internet casinos gained popularity and mechanical slot machines were replaced by electromechanical ones. However, where were all of these vintage slot machines?

Among the locations where the vintage slot machines can currently be found are:

In the basements of casinos, preserved as antiques

In the presence of private collectors

In establishments that resell slot machines to enthusiasts

workshops, where they are either sold as scrap or recovered for parts 

A genuine Sittman & Pitt trade stimulator is thought to fetch thousands of dollars, and ardent slot machine collectors are willing to spend a lot of money on their collection in order to obtain another item. Private collectors are primarily found on eBay and related websites.

Collections of Slot Machines and Their Admirers



Humans are naturally drawn to stimuli and suspense, which should lead to the satisfying feeling of “winning.”

The evolution of slots is a wonderful illustration of how, despite millennia of change, our basic impulses and thought processes have remained the same—our appetites are the only thing that have altered. They have expanded. Check out our podcast on Spotify for additional fascinating details about slots, including how to win at them and how they operate.