Gambling has been with man since the beginning of history, but unlike current features, a dealer or administrator was previously required to participate in any style. The invention of autonomous machines (first mechanical and then electrical), facilitated the spread of games and their use. Let us see in detail the evolution of this invention.
In the Old West, since the mid-1800s, different mechanical machines offered to bet on the appearance of the colours red or black in the spins of a disk-shaped roulette wheel. Entrepreneurs Sittman and Pitt took the idea and modified it, replacing the coloured plate with five rollers with images based on the deck of poker. Winnings were calculated depending on the value of the combination of cards, in the same order as in a hand of poker type “Texas Holdem” presents. The 10 of spades and the jack of hearts were excluded, which cut the chance of hitting a royal flush – and thus the jackpot – by half. The prizes consisted of drinks, cigarettes and other products that the bars provided to the players.
Although Sittman and Pitt’s self-contained machine was created in 1891, the innovation made by Charles Frey in 1897 is seen as the birth of “modern” slots. Frey reduced the number of reels from 5 to 3 and replaced the poker deck with the horseshoe, spades, heart, diamond and bell symbols. The prizes corresponded thanks to this change, they were based on the correct alignment of the reels, with a smaller advantage for the players, but with the possibility of obtaining money in return, even with the option of releasing the jackpot, by obtaining three bells in line. The machine quickly became popular and soon the nickname “one-armed bandits” was known throughout the American nation. Unfortunately, Frey did not patent his invention and it was used by different manufacturers throughout the country.