Modern slot symbols come in all shapes and sizes, some come in the form of books whilst others come in the form of actors who have starred in a hit movie or TV show that the slot is based on. The sheer variety and number of symbols available today is proof that the online casino industry has grown rapidly. It is mind blowing when compared to the early days of slots.
The First Slots
Mechanic Charles Fey invented the first slot in 1895 and this early effort contained three reels and 5 different types of symbols. The symbols that were present Included horseshoes, diamonds, spades, hearts and the Liberty Bell. The Liberty Bell was the highest paying symbol and it also influenced the title of the slot itself. The majority of early slots games utilized card faces as the main symbols on the reels. The values of each symbol reflected the values each card symbol holds in a deck of cards. Back then every symbol on the reels reflected the theme of the game and the themes mostly revolved around playing card faces.
In the early 1900s a series of gambling bans hit slots games and gambling in general. This forced the themes of slots to change and for them to still be allowed to operate legally, they had to take on the guise of fruit and vending machines and the new symbols contained within them, had to reflect a none gambling theme.
With this in mind, fruits took the place of card faces and bells. The rewards for matching symbols on these machines were sweets instead of cash. In 1907 a slot named Operator Bell also concentrated on fruit symbols and this machine became a staple of saloons and barber’s shops. In 1910 a gum-dispensing machine was also added to the non-gambling vending/slot machine collection and this came courtesy of The Mills Novelty Company. What this did was to introduce the world to the Bar symbol. Eventually, gambling bans passed but the fruit symbols remained. These were eventually allowed to take on gambling themes and each fruit in these fruit machine themed slots was given differing monetary values.
Once the first electrical slot was introduced in 1963, slot symbols began to increase in both numbers and types. In 1976 the first attempt at video slots hit casinos. These came armed with Stars, Crowns, 777 and Gems. This increased the volume of slots symbols but their relevance to the game theme began to be diluted.
In 1996 the digital revolution saw slots move online courtesy of online casino platforms. Digital technology allowed slots to exist as animated entities and these slots could hold more reels and more symbols. Most of these symbols were relevant to the slot game theme, but the inclusion of card face symbols that were part of the fabric of slots games, were no longer relevant to many slots. This is the case even today and these non relevant symbols act as low paying symbols that are necessary to pad out games.