The Technological Evolution of Online Slots



The online slots of today are almost unrecognizable compared to the ones from the early days of the internet.

In every area of our lives – from how we shop to how we listen to music, to how we gamble – technology has improved our lives.

In many ways, online slots have grown on the back of the same technologies developed by and used in other industries. In this article, we’ll look at the major landmarks in the technological evolution of online slots.

1. The First Slot Machine

To understand online slots, we must first go back to the very first physical slot machine. Charles Fey, a German mechanic who immigrated to California, is regarded as the inventor of the first slot machine. He launched his first-coin based machine in 1894. This game, known only as the ‘4-11-44’, was an instant success, enabling Fey to open his own slot machine factory.

By the end of the 1890s, Fey had manufactured a number of popular slot machines, including the Card Bell, a three-reel slot with automatic cash payouts, and the Liberty Bell, a three-reel game featuring horseshoes and bells as symbols. Because of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, only four of the original 100 Liberty Bell machines built by Fey are still in existence.

2. Post-WWII Boom

Like many products, the boom period for slot machines came after the end of the Second World War when governments around the world saw the potential for slots to bring in desperately needed tax revenues. This coincided with a technological revolution which led to the mass manufacturing of electromechanical slots with instant payouts.

From the 1950s to the 1970s, slots with 3-coin and 5-coin multipliers became commonplace in Nevada and other parts of the world with liberal gambling regimes. Video slot machines, which actually simulated reels on the monitor, were the natural culmination of these new post-WWII technologies and brought slots manufacturers added attention.

3. First Online Slots

By the mid-1980s electronic systems enabled the linking of slot machines in different locations, which in turn enabled the creation of super jackpots linked to various machines. From there, it was only a small leap of the imagination to transfer jackpot slots to the newly created World Wide Web at the start of the 1990s.

The first online slots were much less technologically advanced than the newest slots in 2019, but there is an obvious line of progression in terms of the types of themes and storylines.

By the late 90s, the leading online slots manufacturers of today, like Microgaming and NetEnt, began appearing on some of the early online gambling slots. The very first Microgaming online slot was Pharaoh’s Fortune, in January 1998. It was incredibly advanced for its time, featuring symbols of ancient pharaohs across 3 horizontal reels and one pay line.

4. VR and 3D slots

Around a quarter-century has passed since the first online slots came into production, and slots manufacturers have made use of every available technology to make sure their games appeal to players.

3D slots are already a staple of the gambling world. The next big cab off the rank is the VR slot, based on the burgeoning technological field of virtual reality. VR headsets are becoming more commonplace as products like Oculus Rift and PlayStation VR bring virtual reality into mainstream gaming. NetEnt is one of the developers that has brought out test VR slots. Technology moves quickly these days and there’s a good chance that virtual reality slots games could become mainstream by the mid-2020s.


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