Have you ever wondered why slot machines have the same symbols? When you think about it, these are random fruits, bells, and "bar" symbols that don't make much sense.
But in reality, the symbols used in the slot machines are not randomly selected. In fact, they tell the fascinating story behind the evolution of the slot machines themselves, and we'll share that story with you here.
The first commercial slot machine was called "Liberty Bell"
Back 1887, an auto mechanic named Charles Fey was in the process of creating the first commercial arcade machine. His brilliant invention was revealed to the world in 1895 and he called it "Liberty Bell". Fey's invention consisted of three drums that displayed three of the four card suits, throwing off clubs and selecting horseshoes and bells.
The horseshoe was then a symbol of good luck, and the bell was supposed to mean the highest possible payout. If you were lucky enough to get a combination of three bells of freedom, you will receive a jackpot payout of ten pennies. Bells are still an important component of many slot machines in casinos around the world, from Las Vegas to Macau in the Far East.
The legislation of 1902 required a change of symbols
In 1902 in America, withdrawing cash from slot machines became illegal. It was a blow to the industry as Fey's Liberty Bell became immensely popular in the American West. But the slot machine operators were not to be beaten by the rules.
Producers tried to get around the new regulations in an ingenious way. Instead of paying out cash, they decided to pay out prizes in the form of sweets and fruit-flavored bubble gum. Bells and horseshoes were quickly replaced with fruit that represented the flavor of gum or sweets that could be won.
Like cash, players had to match three corresponding fruits to qualify for the prize. Grapes and cherries were the first fruits to be introduced and quickly became an icon. It was from these symbols that the slot machines became known as fruit or "fruit" slots.
The "bar" symbol that began appearing around this time was in fact a representation of the Bell - Fruit Gum Company, one of the largest slot machine manufacturers. The bar was a way to advertise their new product, and when the player won, he was rewarded with candy instead of cash.
Slot machine symbols nowadays
Slots have come a long way since the invention of the Liberty Bell in the late 19th century. In the 1895s we saw the electric "Money Honey" and in the late seventies the video slot hit casinos around the world. Huge jackpots replaced candy and chewing gum as casinos grew into huge businesses across the American West.
Nowadays, large collections of slot machines usually have five reels which are controlled by a random number generator [RNG]. Slots have also introduced many new symbols, many of which are themed or considered "wild symbols" that are used to pay out even bigger bonuses and jackpots.
But there is still room in today's slot machines for the standard, old-fashioned symbols. Whether you play in land-based casinos or through an online platform, you'll see symbols like freedom bells, fruits, and even bars that are a nod to the invention and development of slot machines.
Amazing choice and variety for online slots players
Whether they use bells, horseshoes, fruits or numbers, slot machines today offer an amazing choice and variety for online slot players. The games come in many formats and provide access to huge jackpots, which makes them extremely attractive to online players.
Many of the slot machines are themed and compatible with the formats dictated by popular TV shows and movies, further adding to the charm of online gamers. Moreover, many online gambling slots are playable for little money, meaning you don't have to place big bets to have a chance to win the jackpot.
While many people might think that the symbols used in slot machines today are random, the truth is they have an interesting historical story to tell. So, the next time you see the freedom bells flashing on your screen, remember that they are a tribute to the inventor of the first ever slot machine.
Likewise, if you win big with a spin that lands on several fruits at any one time, be thankful you won't get bubble gum or candy as you would in the early 20th century!
Slots have come a long way from the start and we should be grateful for the great variety and huge jackpots that we have at our disposal.