Slot machine games aren’t uncommon in today’s age and have even given rise to places like International Gambling Studies. Some might even say these games are weaved into the fabric of our society’s DNA. Thus, we can all agree that video slot machine games are here to stay, whether we like it or not. But where did it all start? And who came up with this unique idea first?
The history and nostalgia attached to this origin story are muddled with exciting twists and turns. So, keep that in mind as we explore who popularized the first slot machine game and look at how nostalgia plays a factor in it all.
The Story of Augustinus Charles Fey
The story of slot machine games starts in Bavaria with Augustinus Charles Fey. It’s a story rooted in intrigue, theft, and controversy featuring many other candidates who contributed to this growing industry.
Raised in a family of 16 siblings, Augustinus Charles Fey displayed a strong aptitude for mechanics. As a result of this, he followed in his brother’s footsteps and worked in a farm tool factory in Munich as an intercom equipment manufacturer.
Fast forward a few years from there, and we find that Fey moved to America after having received plenty of letters from his uncle praising the country. Then, the history pages show that Fey moved around a few times more before eventually settling in San Fransico, California, where everything would change.
The year is 1884, and gambling is considered illegal, with maps of the town having color codes highlighting hot zones with illegal establishments. These places include opium dens, brothels, and gambling halls, to name a few. Yet, despite this problem, the police and the local government would do very little to stop these establishments.
So, being resourceful and opportunistic, Fey used his mechanical skills and secured himself a job at California Electric Works to work in those areas.
It would take a few more years before Fey’s luck would completely change, as he would first get married, have four children and overcome tuberculosis. Still a fan of making money, Fey started using his time to frequent the gambling halls of San Fransico and noticed the highly popular “nickel-in-the-slot” machines.
Keep in mind that slot machines didn’t reward their players with real money back in those days. Instead, these machines were much closer to vending machines that spat out cigars or drink tickets. It was this realization that sparked an idea in Fey’s head. What if these slot machines rewarded players with real money?
It was and still is, in many ways, a revolutionary idea. So, in 1893, Fey set out to make a better gambling machine than its predecessor. He reached out to his friend, Theodore Holtz, who introduced him to Gustav Friedrich Wilhelm Schultze, also working at California Electric Works.
Shortly after this meeting, Schultze patented his own “horseshoe,” the first US patent for a gambling machine and what we recognize as a slot machine today. This is why some believe Schultze should be recognized for popularizing slot machines.
Nonetheless, Fey created his own “horseshoe” machine with better mechanics and asked Holtz to be his business partner. Holtz agreed; they both quit their jobs and eventually went on to create the famous 4.11.44 horseshoe game. What made this game special was, unlike other games, it rewarded its players with real money. This is why Fey is usually associated with being the father of slot machine games.
Slot Machine Games and Nostalgia
Who could have predicted that Fey’s dream would have such lasting effects on the financial market? This culture contributes so much to the economy that, according to Statista, in 2023, the US had forecasted they would reach 230.86 billion from the casino sector alone.
The world is changing with a pandemic still looming over us. Additionally, there’s the arrival of the metaverse that’s got many people excited. With all these new and exciting changes on the horizon, we have to wonder: will there be room for slot machines in this new future?
It’s too early to tell what the future holds, but one thing that does hold true for many is the power of nostalgia. Nostalgia is the reason we buy old, expensive things. It’s the reason we hoard old collectibles from years past, because they give us sentimental value. The truth is that nostalgia can be powerful.
Take the famous slot game, Mermaids Millions, for example. This is a classic, timeless aquatic-fantasy based game rich with mythic lore and adventure. The game even has mythic characters like Neptune, lord of the ocean.
Plus, remember that Mermaids Millions is played on a traditional five-reel, three-row grid game with special features, including free spins and thematic treasure hunt bonuses. The game is available at Casumo, where easy gameplay is offered, and it’s designed to be well rounded to suit all players. Also, keep in mind nothing beats the tactile feeling you get of pressing real physical buttons or pulling on a physical reel. Because of this, we award the win to notalgia.
As mentioned before, whether we love them or hate them, slot machines games are here to stay. Based on this brief history, it’s safe to say they always existed in one way or another and probably will keep evolving with the times.
Remember, it started as an essential vending machine, so to speak, before being transformed into money-giving machines many years later. Finally, they’ve evolved into an online platform. If we take all of what we learned from this history lesson, it feels safe to assume that slot machines are here to stay.