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The story behind slot machines: back in the days

Slot machines are gambling devices that are controlled by inserting one or more coins or tokens into a slot and then activating one or more reels that are divided into horizontal segments by different symbols by pulling a lever or pressing a button. Depending on how and how many of the symbols line up when the whirling reels come to a stop, the machine pays out by dropping two to all of the coins into a cup or trough. Traditionally, the terms g2g51 jackpot and bar have been employed, along with stars, card suites, bars, numerals (7 is popular), and other illustrated fruits including cherries, plums, oranges, lemons, and watermelons.

Originally used to describe automatic vending machines as well, the name “slot machine” (short for “nickel-in-the-slot machine”) came to be almost exclusively associated with gambling devices in the 20th century. The 1880s saw the introduction of coin-operated gambling machines to the US market, however, they were essentially novelty machines more like two toy horses that would race when a coin was placed into the machine than true gambling machines. Placed on a bar in a saloon or other similar setting, these machines drew bets from customers. But with most machines, the owner would give winning patrons beverages, cigars, or occasionally trade checks—specially made metal tokens that could be redeemed for refreshments.

Coin-paying devices had been invented by 1888.

Earlier devices had coins that dropped onto an internal balancing scale, potentially tipping and spilling additional coins. Later models had a circular display and a spinning indication that either rested on or pointed to a number, color, or image.

American inventor Charles August Fey, who was born in Bavaria and worked as a machinist in San Francisco at the time, created the first slot machines in the contemporary meaning when he created his first coin-operated gaming device in 1894.

Fey constructed the 4-11-44 in his basement the next year, and it was so well received at a neighborhood tavern that he quickly resigned from his job and set up a factory to make more of the devices. The first three-reel slot machine with automated cash rewards was the Card Bell, which Fey created in 1898. The Card Bell included playing card suit marks that matched up to make poker hands and a handle that, when pushed down, started the reels spinning. His second slot machine, the Liberty Bell, was constructed in 1899 and featured playing card suit marks on the reels in addition to horseshoes and bells. A row of three bells indicated the highest G2GBET payment.

Of the more than 100 Liberty Bell devices that Fey manufactured, only four exist, primarily as a result of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake. The Liberty Bell swiftly became a copy of Fey’s rival, the Chicago-based Mills Novelty Company, after it became extremely popular among San Francisco tavern goers.

Slot machine operations were often challenged by forces of law, morality, and religion. In 1909, San Francisco outlawed slot machines, although, at that point, the city had around 3,300 machines. Fey and his rivals constructed machines without coin slots so that transactions—possibly for drinks and cigars—could take place covertly over a bar counter to evade the law. The majority of slot machine factories soon moved, primarily to Chicago.


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