The inventor of slots – the man behind the machines
A vending machine also known as a fruit machine, puggy, slots, poker / pokies, pecans or simply slot) is a casino game machine with three or more reels, which rotate when pressed a button. Originally known as bandits with a weapon, these machines were traditionally operated by a lever on the side of the machine and not by a button on the front panel.
The name bandit with a weapon also comes from the fact that the cars would leave the player impoverished or in debt, the word bandit being a synonym for “thief”. Today, there are still many slots that work with the help of a lever, although nowadays, we are more accustomed to video slots with a button to rotate the drums.
A funny fact is that slot machines include a currency detector that validates the money inserted to play. The device pays according to the patterns of the symbols visible on the front of the car, when it stops, known alternately as payment lines. Modern computer technology has resulted in variations of slot machine concepts.
Charles Fey’s life at a glance
Who was Charles Fey? Born in the Bavarian region of Germany in 1862. He was named August Fey, but did not like the short nickname “Gus”, which he later acquired in the United States and later changed his name to Charles . So who was Charles Fey? First of all, he was a traveler and while traveling, he lived and worked in five countries, with work centered around electrical, telegraphic and telephone devices.
But let’s go back to adolescence, when he worked for a manufacturer of agricultural tools , where he took over the skills that would lead to his work throughout his life as a mechanic. Dissatisfied with what Bavaria had to offer, he moved to France at the age of 15, where he worked for a company that produces intercom equipment. He worked in France for three years before moving back to the United Kingdom, where he worked for a nautical equipment manufacturer.
At the age of 23, he moved to the United States, first landed in New Jersey, and eventually settled in San Francisco. After a short trip to Mexico, he married Marie Volkmar, with whom he would have four children. In the United States, Fey worked for an electrical production and engineering company called Electric Works. Later, together with his partner Theodore Holtz, he left Electric Works to form his own company, which manufactured telephone, telegraph and electrical equipment. Therefore, Fey was well placed to develop Liberty Bell.
So, he became famous around the age of 33, with the invention of Liberty Bell – the first modern slot machine . To this day, we still do not know why it was called so, but in any case, it consisted of three drums, a slot to throw coins and an arm to the side to start spinning the drums (hence the name ) an armed bandit. Liberty Bell had only five different symbols (unlike today’s games, which are around 10).
These were diamonds, spades, hearts, horseshoes and the Bell of Freedom. With repetitions, there were 10 symbols on each drum, and on each drum, there was only one Liberty bell. This would make it easy to calculate the chances of hitting a big jackpot for the alignment of three Liberty Bells . The trials were one in 1,000, and the winnings were half a dollar. The larger jackpots waited until other inventions were created.
It is believed that Fey created a slot machine shop in 1896/7 or around which he carried his invention further, making duplications and adjustments to his first armed bandit.
And what was the background on which Liberty Bell was created? For a start, there were games with colored wheels, which included a large wooden cabinet that housed a vertical wheel divided into different spaces. A player had to bet on colors , throwing coins into a slot. In addition to this machine, there was also the poker machine developed by Sittman and Pitt in Brooklyn, New York. This machine contained five reels with pictures of playing cards on the outside. To play, a player would toss a coin into a slot, and the cards would form a winning hand, the player would win. Although this machine and other poker games were based on the real odds of poker, they often had only 50 cards instead of 52. The Joker, 10 Stings and Jack of Hearts were eliminated so that there could be no royal flush.