The Liberty Bell
The first slot machine
The first slot machine was invented in 1895 by Charles Fey. Demand for the slot machines grew and Fey teamed up with the Mills Novelty Company to meet demand. In 1907 the now famous Mills Liberty Bell was released. We are talking about a cast iron case here with a liberty bell cast in front of the machine. The slot machine originally had cast iron feet and later moved on to having beautiful scrolled feet. On the 3 reels of the machine were the traditional card symbols (hearts, clubs, diamonds, and spades). When you hit the jackpot, a bell would ring. This practice was discontinued but has been revived in modern day slots where, once again, a bell sounds to announce a winner!
The Mills Novelty Co introduced an improved version of the machine in 1910. They called it the Operator Bell and it featured the now famous fruit symbols. The machine had a goose neck where the coin slot resided. The original Liberty Bell and it’s successor were heavy machines, weighing as much as 100 pounds or more. Over 30 000 of these machines were made.
The wooden slot cabinet
With time, these heavy slot machines were dispensed with and in 1915, the Mills Novelty Co. produced machines housed in wooden cabinets. Progress did not stop there neither and the improvements continued. Obviously noisy with their mechanical insides, the Mills Novelty Co. focussed on making them quieter and in the 1930’s the machines were known as the “Silent Bell”. New and innovative payouts were introduced including the double jackpot. The early 1930’s saw the introduction of themed cabinet designs. The Lion Head, War Eagle, Roman Head, and Castle Front designs were released at this time. They also moved away from the gooseneck coin slot which, at that stage was the acepted norm. The coins could now be seen inside the machine, moving in a row, which, while being visually appealing, also allowed management to see that real coins rather than slugs were being used.
Slot Machines meet the hotels
Slot machines met the hotel industry when Bugsy Siegel added machines to his Flamingo Hilton hotel in Las Vegas, in the 1940’s. They were originally installed as a way to entertain the lady friends and wives of gamblers. Revenue from slot machines soon matched that of table games and by the 1990’s, slots had overtaken table games in popularity and now account for over two-thirds of casino revenue both in casinos online and land based casinos.