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How Did Slots Get Their Start?

When many think of slot machines they think either of the one-armed bandit that is so popular, or they think of the ones with the button in the middle. There are slot machines that take all kinds of wagers, from a penny on up. There are some that just take paper bills or cards now, and some that still take cash. But where did the first slot machine come from? What gave someone the idea to create a slot machine?

There was a French game called bagatelle. It looks something like a pinball game except you bet on it. You had to get nine balls past little pins or obstacles that were sticking up and into holes or slots. Some think that the bagatelle was originally meant as a way for people to bring the games of shuffleboard or croquette inside. It was smaller than a pool table, and more convenient. The pins stayed where they were so they didnít have to be reset. Eventually the table got smaller and smaller so that it could be taken elsewhere Ė and soon it became what is known as Plinko.

England adopted the game in the 1700ís and added a glass cover to keep the balls in. Then they started changing in the way they looked so that they started looking more like the slot machines that we are familiar with today. They added spring-loaded hammers to fire the balls, and the pins were still stationary.

Then in 1985 Charles Fey of San Francisco created the first mechanical slot machine and called it the Liberty Bell. It used to be located in the Liberty Belle Saloon in Reno, Nevada, but the Saloon was just recently sold so who knows where it is now. I am sure that one of these days it will end up in the Smithsonian along side Mr. Rogersí sweater.


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