The Evolution of Slots
April 11, 2019
If you like to gamble, then chances are, you love playing Slots! These iconic machines can be found in casinos all around the world.
But how did these popular reel-based games even get started? This article explores the evolution of the Slots genre over the years.
The earliest Slots games
The very earliest slot machines were very rudimentary compared to what we are used to today. Some of the earliest units didn’t even have slots for coins! If you won, you would receive your prize in the form of drinks or cigars from the bar.
The first coin-operated machines appeared in San Francisco back in 1894. By 1909, slot machines had been banned in the city.
The birth of the fruit machine
You probably know that the older style of machines used a fruit-based theme, but do you know why?
After slots were banned in San Francisco, manufacturers looked for a way to get around the ban. To avoid trouble, the Industry Novelty Company created fruit-based slot machines and called them “chewing gum dispensers”.
The fruit markings on the reels were meant to represent the different flavours of chewing gum that were available. The company did actually make some of these fruit slot machines dispense gum, but many of the units they produced were still intended for gambling.
Soon after, the Mills Novelty Company copied the idea. On their iteration of the design, they added a picture of a chewing gum pack on their reels. This would later become the “BAR” symbol we know and love to this day. The Mills Novelty Company was also responsible for inventing the concept of a “jackpot” win.
After the Second World War during the 1950s, electromechanical slot machines started to be introduced. These Slots could offer new payout schemes. For example, it was now possible to win 3 or 5 times coin multipliers.
By 1975, video slots machines were introduced in Las Vegas. In 1986, a system was introduced that linked multiple machines together, creating a “super jackpot”.
By the late ‘90s, another technological revolution had begun. The rise of the internet meant that people didn’t even need to leave their homes to play Slots games. The first online Slots games were very basic and were simply made to resemble their real-world counterparts.
Over the next few decades, internet speeds and computer processing power started to improve, allowing for more advanced looking Slots games with incredible graphics and gameplay mechanics.
There are some slots themes that are more common than others. Over the years, the themes depicted have slowly changed. In the past, the fruit theme was the most prevalent because the manufacturers were trying to hide the fact that they were producing gambling machines. These fruit symbols are still popular to this day, with many of the most popular Slots games in the world using fruit on the reels.
While people still appreciate the classic aesthetic, the looks of slot machines have evolved over the years. Many Slots games are tied in with a movie, TV show, or even a band. For example, a popular online Slots game is based on the Terminator 2 movie.
When it comes to online Slots games, the variety of themes is huge. With online Slots games, you don’t have to produce a physical machine, meaning you can take a bigger risk with the design. It’s also a lot easier to produce complicated graphics when you only need to render them on a screen rather than in the real world.
What’s next for Slots?
So what is next in the world of Slots games? According to CasinoGuide.co.uk, one idea that is currently gaining traction is the concept of virtual reality casinos.
These are casinos that exist only inside a “virtual reality” space. You can put on a virtual reality headset such as the Oculus Rift and enter a virtual casino that includes games like Slots and Roulette.
At the moment, this kind of technology is fairly expensive. Not only do you need an expensive VR helmet, but you also need a powerful computer that is capable of running the software.
As the technology becomes more affordable, we might see more casino operators opening up new “virtual reality” spaces. Could this be the next big thing for Slots games? Only time will tell.