Fruit Machines – A Brief History

You can be forgiven for thinking that Fruit Machine & Slot Machines are a fairly modern invention, but the history of the humble fruit machine dates back to 1895!

The first slot style machine invented by the mechanic Charles Fey in 1895, he called the first machine the ‘Liberty Bell', and it quickly become huge success in America, becoming the first technologically sophisticated piece of machinery to be found in casinos.

The popularity of these machines spread around the world but they were mainly to be found in bars & pubs due to the ‘gambling' element of the game. In order to try and make them more acceptable to have in public places such as shops and hotels a man called OD Jennings, who ran the Industry Novelty Company replaced the playing card symbols which had appeared on the machines first reels with pictures of fruit and rebranded the machine as a chewing gum dispenser! Hence the name ‘Fruit Machine' The legality of the gum dispenser was often disputed in court, but the manufacturers usually won.

The first electric machines were electromechanical, which made pulling the handle of the machine less satisfying! The electromechanical machines were replaced in the 1980’s by microprocessors, which controls the exact stopping position of the reels.

Old & Modern Fruit Machines

It is interesting to note that they have been banned in almost every country at some point or other, although quickly reinstated. This may be due to the fact that a lot of people – usually those who have never played a slot machine – think that they are a waste of time, never giving a return for what is put in. This couldn’t be further from the truth, it is an assumption based on the fact that most people who have ‘given it a go’ put just a few coins in and then give up because they haven’t seen any return! However if you use it approximately 20 times you are quite likely to win. UK machines have to state the percentage of coins they payout, which is at least 80% of the coins inserted! Hardly a rip off – a fairly good gamble if you think about the odds!