The very first gambling machine that resembled a slot machine was developed and built by the American company Sittman & Pitt in 1891. It was based on poker and proved to be extremely popular. But it was not until 1887 when Charles Fey devised a much simpler machine called the “Liberty Bell” that the first true slot machine (or one-armed bandit) was invented.
The “Liberty Bell” had three spinning reels with a total of five symbols – horseshoes, diamonds, spades, hearts and the Liberty Bell. Its biggest payoff of ten nickels was made when three bells in a row appeared on the reels. This format proved to be such a success with gambling patrons that a new industry was spawned and we still see its effect on every offline and online casino today.
But an even larger enticement also appeared during the 1980s, one that prompted countless thousands to give casinos a try for the first time. In the mid 1980s, the nation’s most popular legal game of chance was still, by far, the state lottery. The possibility of a life-changing lotto jackpot was the most pervasive enticement for Middle Americans to gamble, because it offered something casinos, at the time, did not: The prospect of instant wealth from a simple act that required no skill.
It was March of 1986 when International Game Technology introduced this style of instant, life-changing jackpot to the casino industry, in the form of Megabucks, a game that linked slot machines together (at the time, over phone lines via modem technology), with all coins played on machines in the network incrementing a giant pari-mutuel jackpot. IGT seeded each jackpot with its first guaranteed million, and from there, the portion of wagers took over, incrementing the life-changing prize on an electronic meter as slot players pumped in coins incessantly while dreaming of a new life of luxury.
1990s, slot machines made the moved to the Internet, where they became even more popular – and jackpots became even bigger – than anyone could have ever imagined. The software in the online slots on your home computer is the same as in a video slot in a Las Vegas casino.