Slot Machine History - who's crazy idea was this anyway?
(Slot Machine Inventor)
An American invention, slots have since become
very popular all around the world. The most notable places
include Europe, Africa, South America, Asia, and the Caribbean.
As a 29 year-old Mechanic, Charles Fey manufactured the first
reels for gaming in 1887, a heck of a long time ago. San Francisco
was the town to be in if you were a precognitive slots momma at
the turn of century, and what fun it would be to be there
now. The first machines were manufactured by hand by Fey himself
and placed in the local gambling palaces on a 50% rental basis.
So in addition to being the inventor, Fey was also the first
proprietor of the machines. Somewhat surprisingly, and against
some modern mythology, Fey's first machine was not any more
bulky or any more crude than modern day examples. Nor did
its reels carry the fruit symbols common today. The first
slot machine was actually called the Liberty Bell, how appropriate
a name for the game that has become a symbol of American culture
and capitalism. The original symbols included the standard
playing card imagery we are all used to - hearts, diamonds
and spades- along with bells, horseshoes and a star. This
original machine can still be seen today in a collection at
the Liberty Belle Saloon and Restaurant in Reno Nevada, which
is owned and operated by Fey's own lineage.
Presented in 1887 as a 'New Nickel Operated
Machine', Charley Fey, machinist and gamer, provided the world
with what would become a phenomenon. The San Francisco Chronicle
described Fey's machine: "A machine featuring 3 reels
mostly hidden with Horseshoes, Spades, Diamonds, Hearts, Bells
symbols on reels. The device is operated by depositing a nickel
in a slot to release the handle, when the right combination
of symbols stop in the window the player is awarded coins
ranging from 2, on 2 Horseshoes to 20 for 3 bells. Most of
those present agreed the machine should be a great success"
A great success it has been, without room
from disagreement. The movement of money is an interesting
thing in and of itself. Just how much money was fed into the
machines in Nevada and the Caribbean to get to the $300 million
yearly gross revenue? If we do a little basic math
on the average that 10 cents of each dollar deposited is retained
by the player, then $3 billion worth of pennies, nickels,
dimes, quarters, ect move through the 50k machines.
The details of the slot machines (not online)
we're discussing are necessary knowledge for anyone who wants
to make this an important part of their day. Essential, a
cabinet housing contains three or more narrow cylindrical
drums, commonly called reels, which are marked with symbols.
Vertically disposed on a common axis, the reels are caused
to revolve freely when a player activates the machine and
pulls a lever-like handle affixed in the side of the cabinet.
Payoffs are handled instantly, based on the horizontal alignment
of symbols after the reels come to rest. Umm, you get a line
of bells you win. Simple.
Nickel and quarter machines are by far the
most popular, and account for about 85% of reel action in
any given year. This popularity is followed by the dime boxes,
then half dollar and silver dollar machines. You can now find
machines that accept $5 bills, and some rather large progressive
jackpot machines that take $100 bills!
The modern, deluxe, single coin one armed
bandits with a nice shiny chrome finish can run you as much
as $1,700 to own for yourself. But even if you're thinking
of dropping that coin, check and make sure its legal to own
a slot machine in the state or country you live in.
You may be familiar with the name 'Big Bertha'
when it comes to the reels. This machine was designed to accept
half dollar and dollars, and to pay back about 80% of what
it takes in. The box is made for the most part to be a propaganda
machine, catching customers imaginations and desires in one
big metal mental image.
it worked, which is proofed by the appearance of the Super
Big Bertha. This six by ten foot super slot machine is said
to have cost more than one hundred and fifty thousand dollars
to produce. A Five horsepower electric motor is needed to
power the twenty-inch wide chain driven wheels. With eight
reels containing 20 symbols each, there are 25.6 billion different
possible combinations. That's right BILLION. Only one of which
actually pays the 1 million dollar promised prize. A little
more basic math shows that with these odds, one individual
would have to put about 205 billion one dollar spins to work
to mathematically hit the million dollar prize. Not the best
return on investment ever conceived, except from the casinos
point of view.
A long-standing record of $65,093 was won
in one slots pull on a one-dollar progressive at Harold's
Club in Reno in 1973. Quite recently (in 2001) a woman won
over $1,000,000 in an Ontario, Canada Casino. It's worth noting
the machine was a progressive that was $100 a pull.
In addition to being the biggest revenue
producer, our friendly one arm pals have also been the single
biggest cause of police raids, legal indictments, and courts
decisions over all other forms of gambling combined. Part of
the problem is the manner of play. No other style of gambling
creates such a hypnotic fascination. The
term zombie has been married to the reels in
American popular culture for years now. It's seen time and
time again that it is very difficult to resist the temptation
to drop a coin when given the opportunity. Even those who
have a moral problem with the concept of gambling have been
shown to be affected by this phenomenon. The antecedents of
this common behavior are rather indefinable, but it can most
likely be largely attributed to two things, one just stated,
the temptation to drop a coin with hopes of a massively large
payoff for an insignificant bet, and the other is probably
the mechanical attraction produced by the machines. The action
of placing a bet lets you see the light show, and watch the
reels spin. There is a larger level of excitement in reel
players when they hit a jackpot than other gamblers when they
win large sums. The complications behind this phenomenon are
too complex to discuss here, but rely largely on the mental
expectations and experience of players in each style of high
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