San Francisco: The Hub of Slot Machine Manufacturing History
As of 1895-1900, San Francisco was the hub of slot machine manufacturing due to gaming influences in the city. While many people now know the city as a hub for international modern technology development, it also has a history in the gaming technology development, which has inspired the developments of pinball machines and slot machines.
Since then there have been many classifications for these kinds of machines, starting with arcade or amusement machines back in 1895. These types were penny machines found in boardwalks and drug stores, and often sold some type of treat to go along with it such as gum in order to amuse the participant. This type of slot machine
Later, “Shoot the Clown” was formulated in 1930 as a pinball type alternative looking machine that rolled different combinations of clown-type looking figures. If a player scored 3 of the same clown he or she would be awarded with a lit-up clown who would bounce up and down in addition to a piece of candy from the local store.
“Miniature Baseball” was introduced in 1931. Players pulled a small baseball connected to the slot machine, which then released a ball that rolled across a baseball-like field in the machine. Depending on the hold the ball went in, with different holes representing different bases and areas on a baseball field, players would accumulate points and later cash them out for prizes. The pinball influence was quite prevalent in this game.
“Kicker and Starter” followed in 1935 as the main type of slot machine produced in San Francisco. Players inserted coins in hope that the kicker would kick a small silver ball through a horde of miniature lights into a goal, upon which the lights would lite up and the player would receive a prize. This was the first machine in the US to feature American football imagery and field goal type decorations.
Into the 1940s sports themed slot machines were the main focus, particular baseball, as it was America’s pastime. American football came in second.
Later into the mid 1900s the machines changed into units that used levers, which upon pulled turned a roulette-like board in the middle. If players could guess the number upon which the machine stopped they would be given a prize, often a cash prize. This was the first time in which guessing was an option for the games and higher monetary prizes were offered. Consequently, they were produced in a fancy fashion and were played among the wealthy mostly.
However, other analysts of the slot machine industry claim that in 1899 Charles Faye of San Francisco invented the first 3-reel coin payout slot machine. He called it the Liberty Bell, and the mechanisms of the machines became the standard for most machines for almost 75 years.
But not all states in the US allowed payout slots machines. As an alternative, vendors created candy payout machines that dispensed various types of treats after a coin was inserted. It was an old-fashioned type of vending machine that offered the feeling of gambling. The machines could also be played with tokens. Otherwise, slots machines were disguised as pinball machines in order to avoid hassles with the law, which many experts say is why so many machines looked like pinball.
There were also “Trade Stimulators” that were found in bars or in drug stores. Winnings were paid out in cigars, cigarettes, and cash under the table or in trading. These machines had very low odds but were designed elegantly, which attracted many visitors. Pinball-like machines were also very big in this category.
Later, slot machines with pictures or figures of people were built in life-size forms, with the slot machines inserted into the chest of that replica. Most of the figures were cowboys, pirates and even famous entrepreneurs.
Looking inside these slot machines from the early 1900s, they were all manufactured in the same fashion and largely from the same companies. When players inserted a coin the levers inside would make clicks based off their own planned algorithms and line up the corresponding pictures (usually fruit). It is hard to know whether a certain kind of machine was set up to inevitably not pay back but most analysts agree there are built in algorithms that allow the machines to pay back, albeit in small amounts.
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