Ever since their introduction, pokies machines have been an essential part of the casino industry. The first gambling machines were primitive in nature, but these iconic inventions paved the way for modern pokies machines. Today pokies account for over 70% of land-based casino revenue, which generates billions of dollars in profit every year. During the last decade, this popularity has spread online. Thanks to improved graphics & video options, pokies are the undisputed main attractions of online casinos. Here are the first pokies machines ever created.
Despite being enchanted by modern pokies themes; most punters would be equally fascinated by the first machines. By today’s standards, these once groundbreaking inventions appear so archaic that they are almost laughable. Even though they barely resemble what punters indulge in today, their introduction was monumental for modern-day gambling. Exploring these historic steps for pokies isn’t just illuminating, it hints at how far the industry has evolved. For this reason, examining the progression of the first gambling machines is essential for any respectable punter.
To highlight this illustrious faucet of history, we compiled a list of the oldest pokies machines. Their introduction in gambling parlours & casinos shook up the entire industry. The ripple effect of their inventions is felt to this day, which makes them impossible to ignore. No matter what part of the world they hail from, the introduction of pokies is something any punter can appreciate. Prepare to be blown away by these inventions, since they revolutionized gambling as we know it! Below are the first pokies machines ever created.
First Pokies Machines
Pokies Machine #1: Liberty Bell, 1887
When Charles Fey created this innovative machine, he unintentionally changed history. While the exact production date is estimated to be between 1887 & 1895, there’s no second guessing its wild popularity. Despite being banned in California, the national demand for the Liberty Bell was overwhelming. Completely inundated with orders, Fey fought in vain to keep companies from copying his epic invention.
What made this machine so iconic was the fact that it was the first machine to deviate from poker’s system. Instead of using card symbols, the Liberty Bell boasted five potential icons that were displayed on 3 reels. By using horseshoes, spades, hearts, diamonds & a Liberty bell, utilizing an automatic payout system was possible. Getting three bells in a row triggered the max payout of ten nickels (50¢), which was an enticing prize. This machine paved the way for pokies machines as we know it, & spawned countless copycat models.
Pokies Machine #2: Sittmann and Pitt Gambling Machine, 1891
Based directly on the game of poker, this machine displayed real cards that were tucked away in drums. In total 5 drums randomly fed 50 different cards into a 3-reel 5-symbol theme. Each hand was activated by a player inserting a nickel & pulling a lever. To give the house an edge, the ten of spades and jack of hearts were usually removed from the machine. This devious move doubled the odds against winning a royal flush. Some establishments stacked the odds even further in their favour by rearranging the drums.
Instead of betting for cash, the prizes from these spins revolved around bar prizes. A pair of kings won the punter a free beer while a royal flush generated a round of cigars or drinks. The prizes varied widely between establishments, so the players were at the mercy of how generous the owners were. Despite being far from an ideal gaming option, this machine exploded in popularity until it was replaced by better releases.
Pokies Machine #3: Operator Bell, 1907
By this time, the demand for gaming machines was too high for the original producers to keep up with. After Fey refused to sell the copyrights to his coveted Liberty Bell machine, Herbert Mills got creative. His corporation Mill Novelty Company copied the Liberty Bell’s design & installed them across Chicago. To avoid copyright issues, they changed the symbols to plums, cherries, lemons & other fruits. Due to its appeal to both young & old users, this revised version ended up becoming a hit. By the end of 1908 every bar, bowling alley, barber shop & brothel in Chicago had one of these machines.