The story behind the inventors of the slot machine

It’s always good to know the story behind something when you are enjoying it. It gives you that little bit more insight, and that little bit more information which can actually enhance what you are doing to an even higher level. So when it comes to slot games at Easy Slots, although of course you can have fun when you don’t know who invented them and how they came about, you can have even more entertainment when you do. Read on to find out more.

It was Augustinius Charles Fey (who later changed his name to simply Charles Fey when he moved to America) who is often cited as being the mastermind behind the slot machine. The truth is that he was not actually the first person to come up with the idea, but he is the one who made the pastime famous and much easier and more fun to play, so it is he who is usually credited. Fey was born in 1862 in Bavaria, and he had a happy childhood despite his father being strict. Unfortunately, this strictness meant that Fey was going to have to join the army at 15, and he didn’t want to do that so he ran away from home.

It took a number of months, during which he walked around 750 miles doing odd jobs along the way, but he eventually ended up in England. Once there, he began learning how to make nautical instruments, and during this time – which lasted for years – he became proficient in engineering and mechanics.

Always keen to explore, Fey left England and travelled to America. He had an uncle in New Jersey, and the intention was to meet up with him and perhaps work together, only Fey decided instead that San Francisco looked more interesting, and so he went there instead. He found a job at the California Electric Works.

It was at this time that Fey started to invent machines at home, as a hobby. His machines brought in some much needed extra money – he had four children to support by this time – and he was particularly fascinated by the ‘nickel in the slot’ machines that were often found in bars. You paid your nickel and pulled a lever and if you lined up the symbols you won a prize (a token for beer in most cases). This was the basis of Fey’s idea to improve the slot machine and make it much more fun to play.

Unfortunately, a man named Gustav Friedrich Wilhelm Schultze had already patented a machine called the Horseshoe (it was the first patent granted to a gambling machine, so certainly historically interesting). Fey didn’t seem to mind though; he actually took this patent and reworked it, coming up with the 4-11-44 machine (with the help of business partner Holtz) which was fully automated and dispensed real coins. Now he felt he was on to something.

The machine was an instant hit and Fey chose to sell his share of the company to Holtz because he wanted to work alone and keep as much money as he could to himself – he set up Charles Fey and Company at this time and went on to create the Liberty Bell which is often considered to be the very first slot machine ever made. 

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on pinterest

Contact me

If you’re looking to commission a piece or would like to discuss anything you’ve read on my blog please get in touch. I’m also open to accepting guest posts so if you’re an artist or a writer and this interests you hit the button below.