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Where It Started
The online casino and online slot has a rich history behind it, beginning from the invention of the first ever slot machine – with its very first form being invented in 1887 by Charles Fey. Back then, the actual machine was called the Liberty Bell and was made up of the classic 3-reels with the following symbols: Horseshoe, Diamond, Spades, Hearts, and a Liberty Bell. The Liberty Bell symbolised the highest pay out (what would become the Jackpot)! With the growing popularity of the machine and many seeing greater prospects, Mill Novelty Company took matters into their own hands.
By the turn of the century, between 1907 – 1910, they invented the Operator Bell which is much closer to our version of the classic slot machines we know and enjoy playing! The Operator Bell brought fruit symbols onto the scene due to the gambling laws at the time which did not allow monetary prizes. To avoid this, the slots would instead award flavoured gum – and those fruit symbols signified the flavour of the gum! That brings in our classic cherries, lemons, grapes, and orange symbols! The Bell-Fruit logo symbol would also become the Bar symbol we recognise today. The Liberty Bell has withstood the test of time as an iconic slot symbol even to now.
In Its Electro Era
The slot machine was kept steady in its use over the next few years. It even caught on the name ‘one armed bandit’ due to the lever on the side of the machine that gets pulled, and the fact that players would keep spending money playing the game.
It was only in 1964 that the first electromechanical slot by Bally was released under the name Money Honey. These reels were operated electronically but they still kept the lever design on the sides of the machine for familiarity. This was also the first slot machine with a bottomless hopper to automatically dispense money without an attendee. The popularity of these machines led to the lever soon being removed due to its ineffective use and was soon replaced with spin buttons.
Slot to Video
Between 1976 and 1994, video slot machines were all the rage. In 1976, Fortune Coin Co. created a modified 19-inch Sony Trinitron video slot, and the function of the reels was created using logic boards. These slots were trialed at the Las Vegas Hilton Hotel and became such a huge hit that the International Gaming Technology bought the technology two years later.
The Internet Takes Over
The invention of the internet revolutionized the iGaming industry and would see the birth of the online casino and slots. In 1994, Microgaming came crashing into the iGaming industry, and became the first ever company to offer online gambling. The company is still operating now, also making it the oldest online casino.
By the mid-90s, the slot machine Reel ‘Em In by WMS Industries which offered a bonus round and formed the bases for the many incentives we find in modern online slots such as Free Spins, Wild symbols, and Bonus rounds!
Due to the massive rise of online gambling, in 1996, the Kahnawake Gaming Commission was established to regulate all online gambling across the world.
The Modern Slot
If we fast forward to the 21st century, there are major companies that develop and maintain a presence online within the iGaming industry. We have brands such as Casino2020 that fully operate with online slots. There’s also mFortune casino, which includes online slots, Blackjack, Roulette, and Bingo! Many online casinos also offer sign up bonuses that wouldn’t be possible unless it was an online casino.
Today, online slots focus on sophisticated gambling software, seamless graphics, and a more accessible experience for players. Online slots offer more than just the press of a button and the spin of a reel such as different themed slots. You can pick from Irish slots, Movie slots, ancient Egypt slots and so much more! There are also fun bonus features like mini games to make the online slot unique compared to its competitors.
The rise of the internet also bought about the rise of smartphones. Within the UK specifically, the change from playing online slots on a PC or laptop having shifted towards mobile slots to 50% in the last 5 years, is indicative of a new era of online casinos.
From the Past to the Future
We can see that the online slot has been there for a very long time in our history. From the 19th century to the 21st, we’ve seen it develop from a small man operated machine to a thing of the internet. The popularity of online slots is the biggest driving force behind its steady and ongoing development, there are high expectations for what the future holds for online slots.