How Has Technology Influenced the World of Slot Machines?

The slot machine; bright, colourful, and a feature of almost every bar floor and casino across the globe. Perfect for the first time player or the seasoned pro, it often acts as many people’s first step into the gambling world. The foundations of the slots world as we know it today is credited to American mechanic, Charles Fey. Born August Fey in Bavaria, Germany in the year 1862, August worked and travelled across Europe before finally settling in the States, eventually landing in New Jersey to live with his uncle. Having moved around the US, he eventually settled in California where he began working for engineering firm Electric Works.

In the 1880’s, slot machines were a popular form of entertainment, although they hugely differed from the ones we know and love today. Gustav Friedrich Wilhelm Schultze’s developed the Horseshoe Slot Machine that featured the first automatic pay out system, which Fey later modified to pay out cash, laying the foundations for the device we recognise today.

Leap forward a few years to the 1930’s, by this point slot machines had become cheaper and mass-produced products, making them more commonplace. This also meant they were much easier to cheat, leaving them susceptible to manipulation by criminals. It wasn’t long before players became aware they could stop the machine wherever they wanted to give themselves an advantage and guarantee a win.

Jump forward once more, and as a method of keeping the cheaters at bay, the earliest machines with electronic computer parts began making their way into the mainstream. These new machines gave outcomes that were dependant on a computer rather than a physical mechanism. This made the game seemingly cheat-proof, and therefore resulted in stronger profits. It also allowed for bigger pay-outs, making them more popular with players.

The closest ancestor to the modern-day machine was created by an inventor by the name of Walt Fraley. His idea was to combine a television screen with a computer-controlled slot game to invent the now infamous “Fortune Coin” game. This revolutionized the industry, and brought us closer to the modern-day machines we now recognise today.

The next big change happened around 1996 with an innovation from WMS Industries. They released a new slot machine, the first one that feature an additional screen bonus round. A new screen was shown during the bonus game, and additional prizes were offered. After this new innovation, the popularity of the games rose rapidly, fast becoming the most profitable avenue inside casinos.

Today, we don’t need to worry a whole heap about travelling to casinos or whether our local bar has the latest machines installed, as we can just play the latest and most up to date games at the touch of a button on our phones, tablets and laptops with online slots. Where do you think the next generation of casino games is headed? And what’s next for the gaming world?

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