The History of Slot Machines

Publsihed 21/09/2020

According to Legal Slots, the name "slot machine" was the original name intended for all automatic vending machines as well as for the gambling devices found in casinos today; it was not until the 20th century that the term became restricted to the latter. Here in the UK, the term "fruit machine" is vastly used to describe a slot machine.


The first slot machine was invented in 1895, by mechanical engineer, Chris Fey in San Francisco. Fey’s slot machine had three spinning reels that featured pictures of playing cards (Diamond, Spade and Heart symbols) plus an image of a cracked Liberty Bell. The jackpot on the machine at the time was modest, as players won a grand jackpot of 50 cents (roughly 39p). The machine was a success and brought forth a change in culture within the gambling industry. If you find yourself in Reno, Nevada, you can see the original Liberty Bell slot machine in the Liberty Belle Saloon and Restaurant.


In 1902, slot machines were banned in most American states, but this did not deter Fey. Instead of pictures of playing cards on the machines, pictures of fruits and sweets were used instead. If the slot machine showed three pictures of chewing gum, the player would win an actual packet of gum instead of money. This was a way around the gambling ban and still gave players the chance to experience the thrill of playing slot games. Around 1907, a Chicago manufacturer of arcade machines created a knock-off machine of Fey's invention called Operator Bell. This knock-off included fruit symbols such as lemons, plums and cherries. Overtime, slot machines became known as fruit machines, a name that is still widely used in the UK, today. On 10th November 1944, Fey died at the age of 82, leaving behind four children and an unrivalled legacy.

In 1964, Bally Technologies created the first electronic slot machine featuring flashing lights and sounds, this was called "Money Honey". By 1975 the more modern version of a slot was created by Walt Fraley called "Fortune Coin"; this new slot machine featured virtual reels and a video screen, much like the ones seen in Rainbow Casino today. The popularity of video slot machines grew and by 1994, slot games were made available online allowing people around the world to play from their PC's.


Although, online gambling was conceived in the 90’s, it wasn’t until the 2000’s where online gambling became a Goliath in the gambling industry. Although nothing could replace the excitement that comes from being in a casino, busy people were drawn to the idea of playing casino games from the luxury of their home. Despite this change in attitude, offline slot machines are still very popular today. The world’s first slot machine invented by the late Charles Fey, can still be viewed in a restaurant in the state of Nevada, USA today.

Rainbow Casino

At Rainbow Casino, we have slot machines available for you to try your hand at. If you would like to learn how to play slots confidently, you can do so here. For more information, get in touch with your nearest casino today.

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