When I hear the term “Slot Machines” my eyes tend to glaze over as I recall the opulent, fashionable themes of the casinos in Las Vegas. It’s like stepping into another world with the choice being yours as there are so many now.
First – a bit of history.  Charles Fey of San Francisco, CA is credited with the invention of the slot machine. It is believed that his first envision of the machine was in 1895 but it was not until 1897 he produced his first prototype. It has only 3 reels and they displayed a combination of five symbols – horseshoes, diamonds, spades, hearts and a Liberty Bell and the payout was determined by which symbols were revealed in a row on the machine. The “Liberty Bell” as it was called was enormously popular and therefor copied by a number of manufacturers. This new form of entertainment was given a number of creative names. It was referred to as a “slot machine” in America, a “fruit machine” in Britain, “the slots” in English Canada and “pokies” in English Australia and New Zealand. The “One Armed Bandit” was a popular phrase used as well since the originals machines operated by pulling a lever on the side of the machine and very often relieved the hapless get-rich-quick mega 888 player of all of his hard earned money.
By 1908 many cigar stores, saloons, brothels and barber stores had installed them for their customers entertainment.
Fast forward to the 1980’s. As with most technology the inner workings of the slot machine became a computer program and when embellished with all of the bells and whistles the modern machine took shape. Those machines that were set up with around 10,000 possible winning and losing combinations changed and increased to over 16 million possibilities.
The video slot machine changed the industry again when it dispensed with moving parts (reels) in favour of graphics. Essentially – the video slot machine was a computer game. Now the sky was the limit on how the game was presented, the amount of interaction between player and machine and bonus spin off games were incorporated into the experience.
Those who built the machines and the entrepreneurs who installed slot machines in their establishments quickly discovered the value of the “near miss” and the machines were programmed to draw attention to the near misses as an indication the big “win” would be forthcoming. Researcher Luke Clark explains the attraction of the “near miss” in Discovery Magazine.