The story behind the inventors of the slot machine

by Brad Fein
slot machine

Gambling is one of the oldest activities in the history of mankind. From the earliest recognisable incarnations like gladiatorial games and chariot racing in ancient Rome to more recent advancements like online betting, gambling is one of the most popular social activities and industries on the planet. One of the most popular forms of gambling is, of course, playing the best slots online at Easy Slots. But where did these wonderful machines come from?

Who is Charles Fey?

August Fey was born in Bavaria, Germany in the year 1862. As a young man in Europe, he worked in both England and France until the age of twenty-three. At this age, he was persuaded to move to the United States of America by his uncle who was living in New Jersey.

Once in the New World, Fey travelled throughout the USA before settling in San Francisco, California in 1885 where he started working at the Western Electric Works company. By this time, he was already considered by many to be a very talented mechanic and inventor.

In 1887, in conjunction with the Liberty Bell company, Fey invented and developed the world’s very 1st slot game. The first machines were different from the automated machines we see later. It was a simple mechanism. The machine had three reels, each with five different symbols. These were so different from what you’ll find today in terms of the themes. Today, you can find anything from oceanic themes to space-inspired themes, ancient Egypt and so much more. Something that you might find interesting, is that the reason why most slots, online and offline, still have bells on their reels is in honour of this very first game.

The History

Horseshoe Slot Machine
Image credits

These machines required an attendant to be there while you played in order to make the payout, which was usually in the form of tickets or tokens. A colleague and inventor name Gustav Friedrich Wilhelm Schultze modified the machine in 1893 to include an automatic payout mechanism. This adapted machine was called the Horseshoe Slot Machine. Not to be outdone by his friend, in 1895 Fey modified the Horseshoe so that it now paid out coins. These machines would become incredibly popular in saloons throughout San Francisco.

Unfortunately, it was not all smooth sailing for August Fey. He had been diagnosed with tuberculosis. During this time, the most common treatment for this illness was for the patient to simply move to a warmer climate. As a result, Fey had to split his time between San Francisco and Mexico. More importantly though, Fey was unable to patent the first slot machine. This is because gambling was regarded as an illegal activity in California at the time. Due to the popularity of the machines and not having the legal protection of a patent, many people ripped off his creation. Not entirely fair, in my opinion.

And lastly, it was during this time that August Fey changed his name to Charles…because he hated the nickname Gus.

Cover Image credits

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