The first slot machine was invented in 1895 when casinos were in their classical era. Charles Fey was the inventor and in 1907, he worked with Mills Novelty Company to build slot machines. The first one was called Mills Liberty Bell which was encased with cast iron and had a Liberty Bell on it. The machines from the old days were very heavy and were made almost entirely out of cast iron. The symbols on the reels from the first slot machine were the same as poker playing cards such as kings, queens, jacks and ect. One of the most well known feature of the slot machine was invented at this time as well. When a player won, it would ring a very loud bell but this feature was taken away. Nowadays the bell only rings when the jackpot is won, not every time you win a spin!
Later on, the game's name was changed to the Operator Bell three years later in 1910. This is when the more common slot symbols were introduced such as the plums, cherries, bars and stuff. It was also easier to put coins into the machine than the original machine. However, the machines were still made from cast iron and weighed over a hundred pounds. During this time, over 30000 machines were produced and sent to casinos around the nation.
Finally in 1915, Mills produced a light weight machine made from wood, which was cheaper to make and more practical to maintain and later on in the 1930s, the machine was made to make less noise so that it couldn't be heard more than a few feet away (unless the jackpot was won). This idea was quite practical since overdoing the noise level would become gradually more annoying inside the casino.
In 1931, slot machine designers became more creative and started to make more themes, which were highly popular at the time and they still are. The Lion Head was the newest theme followed by the War Eagle, Roman Head and Castle Front. These machines were exotic and colorful and appealed greatly to the scores of slot players who were looking for a bit of spice after playing the same slot machines for 30 some years. During this time, more security was put in place and had the gooseneck coin slots to prevent cheating. Other features were put in place to make it more convenient for players to see how much money and coins were in the machine at a certain time.
The first video slots were made in the 1980s when computers were becoming popular. These were known as virtual reels and were displayed on a video interface. The modern era of slots began and so did an explosion in video slot technology and new games. During this time, the progressive jackpot idea was developed where a network of machines linked through a computer network around the country could build up a single jackpot worth potentially millions.
The next generation of casinos was born in the early 1990s during the dot com boom. These were known as online casinos and the first online casinos were very popular but not very exotic. As time went on, graphics and software improved as well as trust in online slot machines. Progressive jackpots still caught on here but the most popular idea behind online slots was the idea that you could gamble right at home and not have to drive out to casinos way out on Indian reservations or Las Vegas.
Around the time of the millennium, cell phone slots and mobile gambling become a huge hit, but it still hasn't reached its prime yet because it is still a new idea. Not only can you play at home, now you can gamble and play slots virtually everywhere. This kind of wireless gaming is predicted to become popular in the next 5 to 10 years. This is quite a change since the times of 100 pound cast iron slot machines!
Presently, mobile slots are growing to become the most popular kind of slot machine. The only problem now is legal gambling issues. Around 2005, Governments around the world are limiting who is allowed to gamble at online casinos or not in their own homes! This act was largely due to politics and this is the one single obstacle to the evolution of slots and gambling. All we can do now is ask our members in the House of Representatives and our Senators in the US to get rid this ban on online gambling in our own homes (Although US residents can still play at certain online casinos). They are surprisingly responsive if you visit your congressmen's website and email them, write them a letter or call them. You will likely be put in touch with one of the secretaries who handle these kinds of issues and it will be recommended to your district congressman. History will continue after this.