The next time you win big on Slot games, you have Charles Frey to thank. It was Frey who built the first machine in the late 1800’s. At the time the vision was to create a machine based version of poker, but it became impossible to try and create a machine that could handle all of the poker permutations.
Frey instead created a machine with three wheels and these wheels contained five different symbols. They were horseshoes, spades, hearts, diamonds and a liberty bell. It was the latter that gave these first machines their names. As the world crept into the early 1900’s slot machines became prominent in saloons, bowling alleys and even brothels.
At the same time Frey was inventing the Liberty Bell the duo of Sittman and Pitt were developing a similar machine based on poker. These machines had five drums compared to the three of the Liberty Bell. Players would put a nickel in the slot and pull a lever. Instead of symbols players would win by hitting poker hands such as a set of kings or a straight. The Liberty Bell had an automatic payout system (three bells would pay out ten nickels as example) but the machines invented by Sittman and Pitt had no direct payout mechanism. Players would win cigars or drinks dependant on the offerings of the establishment housing the machine.
Machines with payouts quite regularly flouted gambling laws in many states in the US. In order to by-pass these laws some early machines paid out winnings in the form of chewing gums. This is where today’s popular symbols of cherries and melons come from.
Today you can find slots or online slots all over the world, with the original designed based on poker changed to suit a variety of themes and games, from well known films like the X-Men online game or TV programmes like the Simpsons. They all though need an appreciative nod back to Charles Frey and his liberty bell, who will have had no idea how big his invention would become.
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