The one-armed bandit was a common name for the slot machine. This is because the lever the player pulls to spin the 3 reels in the casing started it out as a simple game. Each reel contained 10 symbols. A display window showed one symbol for each reel. One pull of the lever was enough to reveal three identical symbols at once, and the player would win. This was very unlikely, so players often lose their money. This resulted in the name being created.
Charles Fey from Germany created the Liberty Bell, the very first slot machine. The original symbols on each reel included a star (from a playing card suit), a horseshoe, and the liberty bell. The demand for slot machines was high so a deal was made to buy the rights of distributing these games of chance and the production of them by a gambling supply firm. Charles Fey refused, and new Liberty Bell versions had to be developed. Herbert Mills constructed one of these new versions and called it the Operator bell in 1907. He was also the first person to use fruit symbols as a symbol for his slot machine.
Players were risking their money every time they pulled a lever. The manufacturers began to be concerned about the gambling nature of these machines. This was a crime that was just as bad as selling liquor. Some manufacturers attempted to conceal the existence of these devices by making them appear like vending machine machines. Bell- Fruit Company developed a slot that would give out gum sticks at the touch of a lever. This did not work and made people see vending machines as a problem. In the 1930s, politicians began to use anti-gambling opinions to support their campaign for office. For those who detested gambling, it was a criminal act, politicians would often smash the machines in an effort to get votes. Bugsy Siegel was a famous criminal who bought many slot machines for his Las Vegas hotel, Flamingo. He didn’t put them in the hotel, but he did so for a purpose. He used them as a distraction for his wealthy husbands, who were gambling in his casino.
In the early 60’s, the first slot machines went electric. In the 70’s, microchips were introduced and the lever was taken out by the 80s. More advanced microchips enabled the slot machines work by pressing a button.