The forms of entertainment enjoyed by humanity evolves together with society – at least on the surface. Today’s full-contact sports are reminiscent of the gladiator fights of ancient Rome, and auto racing is pretty much the same as chariot races were thousands of years ago – only the number of horses (or better said, horsepower) has grown considerably. One of the best modern-day examples of this phenomenon is the humble slot machine. Invented more than a century ago, the basic mechanic of the slots you can play at Spin Casino online has remained the same as the first machine built by an ingenious San Francisco mechanic.
Less is more
The precursor of the slot machine was a “poker machine”, a bit like a video poker machine today. It had five drums with 50 card faces on each (the constructors removed two to reduce the hit frequency of a royal flush, the highest-paying possible spin). The machine was very popular among players but it had quite a few major limitations. The one that was especially painful was that it couldn’t pay the winnings automatically, given the large number of possible combinations – it relied on human assistance for that.
In the spirit of “less is more”, San Francisco mechanic Charles Fey took the concept and simplified it significantly. He threw away two of the five drums, and most of the card faces, leaving just the four suit symbols – spades, clubs, hearts, and diamonds – along with a special symbol (the Liberty Bell) that paid out the most. This simplification allowed him to design a fully automated machine with an automatic payout system that could function without human intervention – aside from the players’ pulling the lever, of course.
As you might expect, Fey’s “Bell” machines eliminated the poker machine from the market in a short time. The new design was beloved by the players and the operators alike – they could simply put a machine in their pub, shop or any other location and let it do its job.
Slot machines have continued to evolve over the last century and then some. Bally, the famous manufacturer of pinball machines, built the first electromechanical slot machines in the 1960s, that did away with the lever, replacing it with buttons. Fortune Coin Co. built the first video slot machine in 1975 using a traditional standing cabinet and a Sony Trinitron screen that became the gold standard in the industry for decades to come. And in the 1990s, the first online video slot machines emerged, breaking all physical barriers and opening up a brand new world of innovation in the area.
Since the mid-1990s, thousands of slot machines were launched by dozens of developers. While they are no longer bound by the existence of physical reels, they held on to the traditional format introduced by Charles Fey in the late 19th century. Well, mostly – today’s standard for an online slot machine is at least five reels, three rows, and three paylines at the minimum.
There are, of course, slot machines that don’t follow this tradition. We have slot machines with reels anywhere from 3 to 100 (!), we have slot machines with different numbers of symbols on all the reels, we have slot machines that have symbols of different sizes, and we have those that have borrowed some successful features from social games like Candy Crush, having grids of symbols on the screen that disappear when forming a row or a column. However unconventional these may be, in turn, their basic principle is the same: paying out a win in exchange for hitting a series of symbols in a row. And that’s unlikely to change in the near future.