Slot machines are, arguably, one of the most prominent parts of modern-day casinos. Whether you play Slots online or at a land-based venue, there’s no doubt you’re familiar with spinning reels adorned with fruit and other themed symbols.
It’s the fruity-reels that are the protagonist in this story though, as you might be familiar with the retro reels that feature the likes of bells, grapes, melons, cherries, lucky 7’s and BAR symbols.
With this in mind, to get you brushed up on your slot machine knowledge and get you feeling like a pro in no time, join us as we take a look at everything you need to know about the iconic Fruit Machine era…
The first slot machine
Between 1887 and 1895, Charles Augustus Fey created the first slot machine to allow automated payouts. Fey didn’t patent his idea, nonetheless, is credited with inventing the first of many iconic machines.
This machine was known as the Liberty Bell, and consisted of three reels and five symbols; hearts, diamonds, spades, horseshoes and a liberty bell.
In 1902, slot machines were banned, but this didn’t stop manufacturers from continuing to develop the Liberty Bell, alongside its shiny new predecessor – the Operator Bell. These machines were able to stay in circulation thanks to the genius idea of prizes being paid out with chewing gum and sweets, rather than cash.
Welcome, the Fruit Machine era.
The sweetest reels
The reels got even sweeter at this time, with symbols being adapted to fruity treats that would correspond with the flavours of gum available.
To win, players would pull the lever and attempt to match up a matching combination of fruit, which would lead to the prize of gum or sweets being dispensed.
This is also when the famed BAR symbol made its debut, known as the logo of the Bell-Fruit company – the suppliers of much of the gum that would be paid out as prizes.
These machines could be found just about everywhere, with tobacconists, bowling alleys, shops and salons playing host to the Fruit Machine era.
The rest is history…
As time went on, slot machines were re-legalised and technology advanced. The first electromechanical slot was released in 1964, leading to the familiar lever system being replaced by a button.
The accustomed fruit remained on the reels, and even in 1976, when the first true video slot was developed, fruit remained as a prominent symbol.
With these advancements, though, came the ability to create themed games, bonus rounds and special features, and when the first online casino opened in 1996, it didn’t take long for slot games to spill into the digital world.
Reels were easier to spin than ever, and gaming developers constantly worked to create games with symbols and features that would stand out.
You might say the rest is history – but one thing is for certain: fruit remains a familiar symbol on both land-based and online machines, and are still considered to be the ‘standard’, retro symbols that keep slot games so iconic and recognisable.