History can throw some unexpected curve balls that send everything down an unexpected path, and this can accidentally lead to the creation of something new. Slots are a great example of this and what happened in the early 1900s, is still part of slot machines today – click to play Mad Mad Monkey slot.
The First Slots
The very first slot machine developed in 1895 is thought to have been invented by a mechanic named Charles Fey. His logical approach to these machines meant that since they were gambling machines, the symbols included on the reels should reflect this, and this is why he chose to add mostly playing card faces as symbols to the reels. The rest were made up of things that are considered to be lucky, such as Bells and Horseshoes.
In fact, it was the inclusion of the Liberty Bell symbol that gave Fey’s slot machine its name. This machine and the ones that followed were all incredibly popular with the public. However, those in power introduced a complete gambling ban in America in the early 1900s. This halted the release of new slot games, but it did not mean the end of slots.
Adapting to The Unexpected
Instead, to survive the ban, slots took on the guise of vending machines that gave out sweets instead of cash prizes. Of course, playing card symbols that are synonymous with gambling, also had to go. They were replaced by family-friendly fruit symbols such as Melons, Lemons, Plums, and Cherries. It is thought that fruits were chosen because they are familiar to the masses and brightly coloured too, and this would attract more families to them. Of course, cherries fitted this profile perfectly and this is why they were chosen as part of the vending machine symbols. But the main reason was that these fruits actually matched the flavours of the sweets and bubble gum that these machines dispensed.
After the Ban
Even after the gambling ban was lifted, fruits remained on the reels of real money gambling slots. Symbols like the Cherry actually became iconic. Other symbols including the Bar, joined playing card faces, lucky charms, and fruits, on the reels and these have survived right up to today.
- Fruit symbols were introduced to slots when they became vending machines during gambling bans
- The Cherry symbol matched the flavour of the gum or sweets that were dispensed to the public
- The Cherry symbol still lives on in modern slots today and has become an iconic slot symbol
The Digital Revolution
In 1996, the first online casino appeared, and this was accompanied by the first-ever virtual video slot called Reel ‘Em In, by WMS. This illustrated the creative potential that digital technology could bring to the design of slot games. Now slot symbols resemble actors from films and TV. Animals, Greek gods, and famous characters from childhood fairy tales also fill the reels. Some symbols are animated and come to life during special features and bonus rounds. Despite all these advances in technology