History of Online Slots

Olufifun Adeleke

When thinking of a casino today, a certain image to come to mind is that of several slot machines lined up next to one another. The lights, sounds, and people all come together to create a distinctive casino vibe without which casinos, as we know them, would not be. That goes to show precisely how crucial slot machines are in the world of casinos.

In online casinos today, there are thousands of slot games for players to make choices. Each piece of a slot game, ranging from the machine itself, the symbols on the reels, the user interface, and even the amount of payout, has evolved through the years. It is remarkable how slot machines have quickly grown in popularity to be part and parcel of every good casino experience. Where exactly did these machines come from, though?

The Beginning of Slot Machines

Sittman and Pitt's 5-reel poker machine.
Sittman and Pitt's 5-reel poker machine. /

Slot machines began as mechanical poker machines, created by Sittman and Pitt, a company based in New York City in 1891. This slot machine was a 5-reel machine with a lever that players had to pull to set the reels in motion. It was called a slot machine because there was a small hole, like a slit, where players would put in coins for wagers before they could begin to play. The name has remained since then.

A significant improvement from Sittman and Pitt’s mechanical machines came about four years later from Charles Augustus Fey, a San Francisco mechanic, who designed the Liberty Bell slot machine. The Liberty Bell is now considered the first true slot machine.

Charles Fey's Liberty Bell Slot Machine
Charles Fey's Liberty Bell Slot Machine /

Instead of Sittman and Pitt’s 5-reel system, it featured three reels and five symbols that have since become iconic. They were the Liberty Bell, after which it was named; horseshoe, diamond, spade, and heart. Matching three bell symbols gave the highest payout available at the time.

The Liberty Bell quickly gained prominence in bars and casinos on that day because of its simple design and automatic payout mechanism. Players could be paid back with money for their winnings, based on the combination of symbols. It was an instant commercial hit.

Slot machines were banned in years after, but Fey’s Liberty Bell was still being manufactured. However, the symbols used were now fruits like cherries, orange, melon, and apple. Money was no longer given as the prize for winning; hence sweets were given as rewards instead. The sweets won would be the same flavor as the fruit symbol that secured the win, to make it more fun. We still have these fruit symbols on online slot machines today.

Developments over the next few decades saw the introduction of more symbols, like the BAR symbol, based on the logo of the Bell-Fruit company. Now, slot machines were found in bowling alleys, bars, and so on. Slot machine games slowly became games to keep ladies busy while men faced more mechanical forms of gambling in casinos. Yet, they outdid the men’s table games in earnings.

The Invention of Electrical Slot Machines

The next significant improvement in slot machines did not come till later in 1963; when Bally Manufacturing manufactured the first electromechanical slot machine. It was called Money Honey.

Bally's Money Honey Slot Machine
Bally's Money Honey Slot Machine /

Before Money Honey, Sittman and Pitt’s slot machines had levers, without which the reels would not work. Also, these levers controlled a spring system, which determined when the reels would stop. The widely known expression ‘one-armed bandits’ was gotten from this. Players felt like they controlled the outcome of the game, hence the name.

Despite the retention of levers, Money Honey’s reels were electrical. The use of the lever was not necessary, but it was left in place to preserve player familiarity with the game. Everyone loved Money Honey because its automatic payout was up to 500 coins and the absent need for casino attendants. Hence, it thrived in the casino market. The electric lights and noises that accompany modern slot machines also began here, and with time, the reel-activating levers disappeared from the design.

Finally, in 1976, with the creation of the first video interface originally manufactured by Fortune Coin, a company based in Las Vegas for the Las Vegas Hilton Hotel, slot machines began to take the form that we know today. It was approved shortly after by the Nevada State Gaming Commission and quickly became part of the Las Vegas experience.

It had a more attractive graphical theme/interface that replaced the use of physical reels to display symbols. More symbols quickly appeared, as well as pay lines. Casino operators also add more control over the odds now with modifications to eliminate cheating and provide more rounds for willing players. The following years saw the introduction of slot machines that could accept both bills and coins, changing the betting game significantly.

The Arrival of Online Slots

The arrival of the internet in the mid-90s brought many blessings with it, and slot games lovers were not left out. Finally, in 1996, wager-accepting websites were developed. For the first time, people could get a decent casino experience in the comfort of their homes and still cash out. The first online slot machine, named Temple Of Isis, was developed by Eyecon, an Australian developer.

The earlier invention of the Random Number Generator (RNG) made online slot machines even simpler to create. At this point, only 18 games were available in the online gaming world, but it was only a matter of time before they increased quickly. Today, over 2000 online slot machines exist on different websites, with more being created annually.

Things became more interesting when computer sizes began to drop. Laptops and mobile phones that can be connected to the internet have become mobile online casinos where different online slot games can be played. No matter where you are in the world today, you are never too far from an online slot machine. Cashing out has never been easier, thanks to online payment solutions, and it is no surprise that slots are now the most-played casino games worldwide.

Online casinos today are worthy competitors of the more established land casinos with increased reach, more profit, and payouts. With the click of a button, people from all over the world can play slot games without leaving their rooms. People have made a full-time job of playing online games in the bid to cash out, and who would not? Convenient money-making ventures are what people seek today, and they have just that in online slot machines.

The Future of Online Slots

Technology is undergoing many rapid changes, with significant improvements being seen every day. With the continual development in mobile devices and the internet’s versatility, the future of online slot games is expected to develop with them. New, exciting games compatible with a wide range of devices and in different locations are expected.

The internet has moved on to 5G, yet there is an expected increase in internet speed. When this happens, gaming against fellow users will be easier than it is today. Also, as more people become familiar with virtual reality (VR), we fully expect more immersive online casino experiences where players can get the genuine feel of a classic casino right in the comfort of their homes.

Moreover, technology has revolutionized payment options with the introduction of online banking, and more recently, cryptocurrency. Many big online casinos already accept payment with cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin. Because of the simplicity of this payment option, we are sure to see others follow suit.

Land-based casinos are poised to integrate with online casinos to give their customers a unique blend of both, using ever-evolving digital solutions. At this rate, you are sure to get everything you could ever get at a physical casino and so much more.

Through the years, the casino industry has shown that they are eager to make efficient transitions for the best gambling experiences. Interestingly, this covers both casino operators and players, hence why we are super-excited to see what the future holds, and we are sure that it will be awesome!


As far as online casinos and online slot machines are concerned, history is still being written. The future holds so much for the industry. There is more than enough to look forward to both as a gamer and as an operator.

Frequently, regulations for seamless casino practices are being created and reviewed, especially for online platforms. Government agencies in different countries of the world are on their toes to ensure the safety and security of online casinos.

Software and hardware companies are not slowing down in creating groundbreaking casino experiences tailored to each user. Casino operators are also actively seeking up their game (pun intended) against all odds. With a look at all these things, one thing is guaranteed; it can only get better, and we hope you are set to enjoy the ride.

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