The transformation journey of the first pokie to today’s pokies

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As you know, pokies are something every player can enjoy at any time. That is the beauty of pokies. From dressing up for the land-based pokies to the comfortable and fast online pokies. You as a player, have a world of choices in when, where or how to play pokies.

Let us tell you something, to create something so fulfilling and fun has not always been easy as it is now during the modern time. The pokies have had to embark on a long journey to make sure that they keep their player’s loyalty through always becoming bigger, better and more profitable.

But what the pokies have always made sure to keep is its authentic style by continuing to be an easy and relaxing game so any inexperienced, as well as an experienced gambler, can play without having to remember too many details.

So, pokies players, are you ready to commence this journey through the pokies history?

Let us begin our trip down memory lane.

1887 – The First Poker Gambling Machine

You may have already heard about the name Charles Fey aka. The Godfather of the gambling industry. The man who was also known as being too stubborn to get a patent on his incredible invention but we all know who started this journey that ended up becoming a hobby close to people’s hearts across the globe.

The pokies journey for Fey began in 1887 but it didn’t come to be shared with the rest of the world until 1895. He created a machine that would allow automatic payouts for the gamblers, instead of having to go to the bartender to pick up your earnings which then would’ve probably been a packet of gum.

With Fey’s new invention it would allow the players to get real money wins which took the gambling industry by storm.

For Mr. Fey to be able to create this way of winning he needed to reduce the complex way of reading a pokies win. The master of pokies did so by changing the existing 5 drums with 3 slot reels. That was not the only change that Fey did.

He decided to replace the playing cards to the famous 5 symbols that the traditional pokies players to this day can appreciate; The hearts, diamonds, liberty bell, spades, and horseshoes.

To get rewarded with the highest payout the player now needed to get 3 matching liberty bell symbols on the pokies reels. This is why Charles Fey named the machine Liberty Bell as to win you need three liberty bells to make a cha-ching!

As you can imagine, this gambling breakthrough took the world by storm and very quickly his idea got stolen due to not taking a patent on the machine.

1891 – The Sittman and Pitt Version

To follow in Frank Sinatra’s footsteps “New York, New York it’s a wonderful town! We sailed the seas and played a bit of poker in Mandalay.”, yes, New York, New York, “If I can make it there, I’ll make it anywhere, It’s up to you, New York, New York”…

We would like to think that the theme tune sang in the Sittman and Pitt factory where they made it with their new and improved New York-born, 5 drums and 50 playing cards slot machine.

This new and improved slot machine could be found in many bars and only cost at the time a nickel to set the reels spinning.

Back then the adorable pokies machines had levers to pull, or how Shakespeare would have put it, oh I wish I was a glove upon that lever….

By reducing two cards, the spades and the jack of hearts, you could increase the house edge. This helped to reduce the odds of landing on a royal flush by as much as half.

1902 – Long Live The Fruit Machine and Bar Symbol

As gambling started becoming a little bit…. too much …. fun (?)…. slot machines became officially banned in 1902. But this did not stop the Liberty Bell from continuing to be manufactured.

So as one chapter closes, another one opens which meant the fruit machine era was ready to get the juices flowing for the gamblers. These mouthwatering machines had instant payouts which meant, no need to queue in the bar for that sucker of a packet of gum anymore.

Now it was the time for Herbert Mills to enter the list of gambling influencers as he developed a new slot machine called Operator Bell. His new creation would have had hashtag #operatorbellame all over Instagram if he would have created this beautiful soul of a creation today but back then the machine was mostly found in tobacconists, bowling alleys, shops and salons.

And to hashtag #BAR, the BAR symbol has become a bit of the Marilyn Monroe of gambling logos, a solid icon. Not to put any of the other creations behind bars, but Operator Bell was truly sensational.

Nothing is forever, except for diamonds, I’m sure Marilyn would’ve agreed…. So, as one sensation ended, another sensation began.

1964 – Money Honey’s Electric Feels

You would think Bally was an Irishman as Bally-go, Bally-do in Ballyhackamore, ya hot potato. As much as we would love to continue to make this article into Irish idioms, Bally was a  manufacturing company that created the first electromechanical slot machine, Money Honey.

Oh, how it made other competitors into ‘hot potatoes’ as fry-yay had arrived with this machine that had turned up the heat on the gambling market. With its electrical reels and automatic payouts of up to 500 coins, people were excited yet confused by this magic new lever-less slot machine.

Guess what, the other hot potatoes ended up losing to the Honey Money on the market very soon after its release.

Sing it Andrea Bocelli, because it was time to say goodbye, to the dear old lever that got fully removed from new slot machines.

1976 – All Hail The Video Slot

The Cali born video slot was manufactured by the Las Vegas company Fortune Coin and what a fortune these creations have become.

This machine has been the foundation for the development of the online pokies. But let’s not get too excited yet as there is still a story to tell about the video slot machine.

The game was first introduced to the Hilton Hotel on the Las Vegas strip and used a 19 inch Sony TV as the display. Because the machine was so high-tech for its time, it required quite a bit of cheat proofing and had some changes done it a few times before getting the approval from Nevada State Gaming Commission.

We are pretty sure you can guess what happened after the machine got approved, yes, it took the Las Vegas strip by storm!

1996 – Up, Up and Away with “Reel `Em”!

WMS Industries Inc. decided to get off their bottoms and set the next milestone in the gambling industry with the release of “Reel `Em”. The revelation of this pokies game came through it is the first ever video slot to feature a second screen bonus round.

The bonus round the second screen featured was an ‘extra’ game to play on to win additional payouts. No wonder “Reel `Em” because so popular because who doesn’t want to increase their winning amounts?

It became so popular that it generated roughly 70% of the casino’s income but then it also took up around 70% of the space inside the casinos.

1990 – The Macarena to the Online Pokies

The ’90s weren’t only the era of the Tamagotchi, Furby, AOL, and the macarena, it also was the era of the online pokies.

In the mid 90’s the first release of the online casinos came along. At first, it only had room for the classic casino games such as roulette, slots, and blackjack.

Shortly after, the software providers decided to release more games with different kind of themes to please the online players.

Of course, this journey has a happy ending as you can see the pokies journey has just increased its popularity more and more throughout history.

Most importantly, the popularity grew because of the online pokies unconventional amounts that you as a player could and still to this day can win.

Online pokies software providers had started removing more and more restrictions and began emerging more pokies games into different hybrid slot games. This has kept the player’s attention as there was always a new and exciting game on the horizon.

The selection of online pokies games seem never-ending, and again, they do keep on coming! Bigger, better, faster and stronger….

Put it this way, there are only a limited amount of land-based pokie machine manufactures whilst there are over 100 online game developers. No wonder a selection of over thousands of online slot games exist, as there are more companies working on them.

Let us not also forget how much faster online releases are then supposed to have to ship and install a land-based machine to a casino.

With the old online gaming suppliers still to this day breathing innovative games onto the online gambling market, such as Microgaming, slowing down seems to not be an option, only when hell freezes over to ice…. twice…. here is why:

Microgaming is the oldest iGaming providers on the market and their online pokie collection exceeds over 500 games. So, with over 100 of companies providing games and there are around over 2000 games on the market, Microgaming owns 500 of them.

As for jackpots, where shall we even begin? The big, bang! The ceremony spin, the massive cha-ching! Jackpots are here to make you win. But not just to win any amount, the amount.


Jackpots have reached new heights with millions of dollars in cash for you to take home. No wonder the players keep coming when a dream so big that exists and might just come true, any day for lucky you.

Mega Moolah is one of the online pokies games that hold the largest record for a jackpot payout. A large amount of 17.9 million Euros was paid out to the lucky winner, winner, who probably went after to have a chicken dinner.

The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree as iGaming supplier NetEnt’s Mega Fortune made a payout as large as 17 million Euros.

So remember, soldier, keep fighting for your treasures, as not all hope is a lot for the wanderers of the online casino web and not all jackpots are Gone with the Wind as “After all, tomorrow is another day.” for the game of jackpots…

The iron throne is waiting for you.

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