Most of us take the symbols on slot games for granted and do not give them a second thought as to why they’re on the reels in the first place. However, the truth is that some symbols have a rich history that bought them to the Wizard Slots that we play today, and like so many historical journeys, unexpected events ended up shaping their future.
Where it all Began
To understand why fruit symbols, persist in slot games that we play today, you have to travel back to the invention of the very first slot machine. Charles Fey has been historically credited with inventing the first slot back in 1887. The Liberty Bell had three drums and, on these drums, symbols such as playing card faces, horseshoes, and the bells themselves, spun randomly forming winning lines. Other inventors took on the slots baton and created more advanced versions of this game.
Slot machines became extremely popular with the general public and could be played in certain places by adults, such as saloons and barbershops. However, in 1902 a ban on gambling was introduced and this prohibited gambling on slot machines for cash prizes. Manufacturers of these slots circumvented the band by changing these machines in two ways. Firstly, the symbols on the reels no longer included playing card faces or anything else associated with gambling. Instead, fruit symbols replaced the traditional symbols and these fruits included cherries, grapes, and other popular common fruits. Secondly, the prizes dispensed by these machines were no longer money orientated, instead of sweets and bubble gum became the prizes that the public could win.
The cherry symbol present on these vending machines, operated a little differently from the other fruit symbols when it came to winning prizes. Like gambling slots, three fruits had to match on the middle pay line, but matching three cherry symbols on the top, middle or bottom reels would net a prize. The bar symbol was also added during this era because it looked a little bit like a stick of gum.
The Craze Continues
Surprisingly, after the gambling ban was lifted, fruit symbols did not disappear once gambling symbols were reintroduced to slot games. Instead, they remained in place and even evolved, and then appeared on more games. When Bally developed the first electronic slot game called Money Honey, back in 1964, this game was also fruit symbol dominated, bells the Bally logo and Money Honey girls were also added to the reels.
A New Dawn
1976 saw the birth of the first video slot machine. The Fortune Coin company replaced reels with a 19inch Sony Trinitron television screen with animated drums and symbols, and slot spin results were created by an early version of the Random Number Generator. Again, fruit symbols survived this upgrade and continued to thrive on these new so-called video slots.
Present Slot Games
The next major event was in 1996 when slot games became virtual entities that could be played in the comfort of people’s homes courtesy of the Internet and a PC. Despite this digital revolution and advances in graphics and animation, fruit symbols persisted on slot games that were readily available to play at online casinos. Some of these fruit-themed slots today are described as being retro.
However, they do contain modern elements such as sophisticated animation and huge multipliers that are mostly activated during bonus rounds. It is clear to see that no matter how many changes occur in the world of slots, fruit symbols seem to survive and evolve through time.