History of Slots – A Timeline from 1887 to September 2023

Below we’ve done a basic outline of the history of slots using a timeline format. If you’re an expert in the history of slot machines and you’d like to share some of your knowledge, please do send us an e-mail and we’d be happy to post your feedback, giving you the appropriate credit of course.

1887 – Charles Fey, a German immigrant working as a mechanic in San Francisco placed the first nickel-in-the-slot machines in the gambling palaces of that city

1902 – slot machines were banned in San Francisco, and soon after that, in all of California and Nevada

1905 – it’s alleged that Mills Novelty Company (owned by Herbert Mills) of Chicago stole one of Fey’s Liberty Bell slots from a San Francisco saloon

1907 – Mills Novelty Company began production of a machine that had an automatic payout principle that was similar to Fey’s. It was the first machine to carry the symbols of bars, bells, plums, oranges, cherries and lemons

1910 – slot machines or one-armed bandits as they were commonly called could be found in just about every city and town across the United States

1915 – slot machines made from less expensive wood cabinets were introduced, thus bringing to an end, the era of cast iron machines

1929 – Charles Fey introduces the first silver dollar 3-reel slot machine

1940’s – Bugsy Siegel added machines to his Flamingo Hilton hotel in Las Vegas

1951 – the United States Congress made it a Federal offense to transport slot machines or consoles or even their components across state lines unless the ultimate destination is a state or foreign country where slot operation is legal

1950’s – the four-reeler slot machine with four reels instead of the usual three was introduced

1960’s – the “hold and draw” class of slots became popular in Las Vegas. This style of machine offered players a 2nd chance to win

1980 – Bally Manufacturing introduces the first electronic slot machine. This meant more reel combinations and multiple coins could be played and also meant the demise of the traditional basic mechanical systems

1990’s – slot gambling goes online

2000’s – slots gambling goes mobile

2010 – over 50 online slots developer companies and nearly 1000 online casinos in the market place

2015 – development of slot games for smart devices including watches and tablets

2020 – mainstream introduction of “live online casinos”

September 2023 – who knows what the future holds in online slots?