The History and Evolution of the Video Slot Machine

You’ll find slot machines both online and in land-based casinos, and there is something special about this popular casino game. It’s a mixture of the bright lights, the graphics, the sound effects, pulling that leaver or spinning the wheel and the resulting sounds of coins being dished out, which brings about the thrills and excitement.

How did the video slots that we are familiar with today come about? To understand the phenomenon, we decided to find out about the original invention that has developed into something which has delighted people for over a hundred years. 

There is an interesting story about how the slot machine has developed and become a game that engages and entertains new generations. From the classic Cherry Master video slot machine to the Japanese Pachinko, we explore and celebrate this fantastic form of entertainment. 

The Early Years

Although the video slot machine was a long way off, we have to go back to the invention of its precursor, the slot machine. In 1897, Charles August Fey, a mechanic, created the first mechanical slot machine. It had four symbols on three reels; it was quite easy to win, and the jackpot was pretty small.

The basic functioning mechanism of the slot machine remained the same for decades. New companies created games with similar specifications but different appearances, as the game grew in popularity. The Prohibition-era also brought anti-gambling campaigners, which stalled the developmental progress of the slot machine.

Everything started changing in the 1960s when electronic components replaced springs and levers inside slot machines. It was also in that decade when sounds, lights, and different coin varieties were added to slot machines.

Video Slot Machines

Not long after the first electronic parts were added, we saw the first video slot machine. It was one decade later in the 70s the game Fortune Coin became one of the first known slot machines to appear on the casino floor. Players were wary of this slot machine initially. They didn’t know how the technology worked and whether the virtual reels could be trusted.

As more new games emerged, the public became accustomed to the technology. Video slot games soon started to take off in a big way and other video gaming machines such as video poker also became popular. In the 1980s, the games spread throughout all the major casinos, and the variety of different games increased.

One decade later there was even more change on the horizon. Video slot machines were developed to include bonus features. In addition to the main game, a second-round was added to keep players entertained and to match the perks that were offered at table games. It was around this time that the first online casinos were appearing. Software developers, like Microgaming, designed the technology that enabled these platforms to run video slots.

The Cherry Master Video Slot Machine

One popular machine was the Cherry Master, the first of its kind as an 8-liner game. It was so-called because of the eight paylines it featured; three across, three down and the two diagonal lines. It was around this time that pubs, bars, and convenience stores began to feature one or two video slot machines. They were great for entertaining customers and for generating extra revenue.

Japanese Video Slot Machine – Pachinko

The Japanese slot machine dates back to the 1920s and was called Pachinko. It is more like a pinball machine than a slot machine but had a similar evolution. It started as a mechanical machine; when the ball drops into certain slots, prizes are given out. Pachinko is incredibly popular in Japan with Pachinko arcades and parlors all over the country. It is a favorite among all generations and these machines produce huge amounts of revenue each year. The new machines are now a combination of the original Pachinko pinball mechanism and a digital screen that has a video slot experience. 

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Online Video Slot Machines

Online video slots utilize the successful aspects of the original slot machine. They used the large jackpots, matching symbols, sounds, and the lights in a digital format. The result was something even more exciting and accessible. Players no longer needed to travel to the casino to play their favorite games.

Thanks to digital technology and the internet, as well as the competitive online casino industry, software developers worked hard to create new, innovative, and fun slot games. Many online casinos now offer hundreds of different video slots. You can now choose from free video slots that don’t require a download, to real money games with progressive jackpots. This demonstrates how the industry has continued to evolve to the continued delight of players. 

Graphics have progressed a lot since the early days, as has the speed at which we can play. From those original small jackpots that were counted in cents, we are now seeing winners of jackpots worth millions of dollars.

One of the most notable innovations of the 2000s has been themed slots and mobile-friendly games; players can see their favorite band, TV show, or character come to life in a slot game, and can do so anywhere they go with their mobile phone. Top titles include the classic Monopoly video slot machine and the Munsters video slot machine.

The Future

The evolution from the original slot machines to video slots to the online games that we see today is incredible. What is so exciting is thinking about where video slot machines will be in the next decade and in the coming decades after that.

Since we are enjoying video slot machines in the comfort of our homes through mobile devices and online casinos, we are sure that there is more to be added to this experience. Two particular types of technology could become crucial to the future of video slot machines. We expect to see augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) change the way we play and take slots to the next level.