The first true slot machine was known as the Card Bell, followed by the Liberty Bell, which were named after some of the symbols used in the games. There had been many similar inventions in the preceding decade, but these were novelty items at best and although they were played by dropping in a coin and pulling a lever, there was no payout system and the prizes were determined by the individual venues, who would typically pay in free drinks, tobacco and other such items.
The two slot machines that were created by Charles August Fey, however, were very similar to the ones that are still popular all over the world today. The first machine was developed back in 1897, and within a few years it was being copied by many more developers. These were very primitive by today’s standards, as you would expect, but for the time they were incredible and they made Fey a lot of money. They didn’t use random number generators and instead worked on a simple system of gears. When the handle of the slot machine was pulled, the reels inside — which were painted with the many symbols — spun and then stopped on random images. This didn’t allow for the game to be tweaked how the owners would have wanted, but it was still very much in the house’s favor, which meant that Fey wasn’t the only one who made a lot of money from these ingenious inventions.
The first true random number generators came into existence in the 1940s. These were developed by the RAND Corporation, but were not used in any commercial software or hardware. This was the first sign that computers, and their ability to calculate big numbers quickly, would be able to assist with the world of gambling, and with slot machines in particular. In the computing revolution of the 1980s and 1990s, when many slots still relied on mechanics, slot machine developers were able to turn to more reliable and more advanced random number generators. This improved further in the 2000s, when slot machines made their leap from casinos and pubs, to the online world. These days advanced RNGs are available that take up very little space and memory, and are able to make every spin on a slot machine completely random and fair.
A random number generator works by randomly choosing a series of numbers, with each one going from one to a billion and more. This number is changing constantly and when the game starts it stops. Which number the generator shows at this point determines the position of each reel, and after it has chosen three or five (depending on the game) then the outcome of the spin is displayed. This is not a predetermined sequence of events, and there is no program which dictates that the jackpot will be won at a certain time, or that the machine will lose X amount of times and then win Y amount of times. Whether each individual wins or loses is determined by what the random number generator declares at that exact moment in time, and if someone were to repeat their actions exactly but delay the play by a millisecond, then the outcome of each spin would be different.
Slot machines can be altered so that they pay out less or more, and on any bank of slot machines the chances are high that on one or more of those machines you will stand a significantly greater chance of winning, and of finding a random number generator that is just waiting to do you a favor.
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