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History of Slot Machines: The Invention of Liberty Bell Slots

Liberty Bell slots, also popularly known as one-armed bandit or fruit machine, is the first slot machine of its kind, developed by Charles Fey in the year 1895. Immense popularity of this slot machine resulted into consistent use of three-reeled slots for several decades. Today you may only read about this machine in different game guides, and watch some of the pictures. By the way, has some info about slots too. Over the period of time, the slot machines went through different changes and modifications, but Liberty Bell slot machine is still considered the best technology standard, though it is not used in original version. Improved modifications on the slot machine are based on the premise of Liberty Bell only. Soon, Liberty Bell machine became the prototype for other slot machines invented by top manufacturing companies.

Liberty Bell slots was designed and invented in the year 1895 by a San Francisco based car mechanic, Charles Fey. Despite of having several slot machine precursors, Liberty Bell is considered the standard for slots technology. The predecessors were primarily built upon poker, with no structured system for payout. Hence, Charles Fey’s slot machine, with a definitive structure and monetary payout became more popular over the period of time. All the bars at San Francisco used this slot machine, and it became immensely popular within a short span of time.

How Liberty Bell Worked?

Liberty Bell slots machine was with three reels that had symbols of three card suits. This included hearts, diamonds and spades. In addition to this, the machine also had horseshoes and a symbol with cracked Liberty Bell on the reels. The machine was introduced with a lever, which had to be pulled to spin the reels. It is with this lever that the slot machine got its name as one-armed bandit. After every spin, the reels would stop on different combinations of the symbols.

When three same symbols came into a row, the player used to win and receive coins. When a winning combination came, bells rang in the machine and it ejected coins to the winning player. Three Liberty Bells coming in a row had the highest payout of 10 nickels or 50 cents. The maximum that anybody could win from Liberty Bells slots was 50 cents at that time.

Increasing Popularity of Liberty Bell

Since Liberty Bell slot machine introduced money prizes, it gained huge popularity in San Francisco and other states. Soon, Liberty Bells slots became the prototype and technology standard for other slot machines, especially another renowned one, Operator Bell, invented by Mills Novelty Company in the year 1910. The new slot machine featured symbols of fruits, as popular in most modern slot machines. Later in 1915, Mills launched new slot machines in wooden frames, which made them less heavy and cheaper. In 1930, the bells were removed and the slot machines became much quieter. However, all these developments were based on the premise of Liberty Bells slots.

Increasing popularity of Liberty Bell gave rise to protests from anti-gambling proponents, and finally, slot machines were banned from San Francisco. However, popularity of slots never faded out, and the classic Liberty Bell slot machine is still can be seen at Liberty Belle Saloon in Reno, Nevada, as an artifact from history.


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