A History of the Most Iconic Online Slots Symbols

by Tim | Oct 27, 2023

A History of the Most Iconic Online Slots Symbols

We’ve been exposed to slot machines for many years, being the online slots UK the new wave. But have you ever wondered about the origins of the most iconic slot symbols, such as the bell and fruit? This blog post closely examines the history of some of the most iconic online slot symbols.

History of slot machines

The phrase “slot machine” originally referred to all automatic vending machines and gambling devices. Only in the 20th century did the term become used strictly for gambling devices. A slot machine was initially also called a “fruit machine” or a “one-armed bandit.” In 1894, Charles Fey invented the first mechanical slot machine known as the Liberty Bell. It had three of the now iconic symbols, including the diamond, spade, and heart. It also had a cracked Liberty Bell, and if you landed three of these symbols, it provided the biggest payoff, fifty cents or ten nickels. There was a huge demand for Liberty Bell slot machines. In 1907, Herbert Mills, a manufacturer of arcade machines, also started to make slot machines that were knock-off versions of the Liberty Bell. Mills became the first person to use fruit such as plums, cherries, and lemons on his reels. Since then, the slot machine has evolved in leaps and bounds. Another milestone was reached in 1976 when a Las Vegas company called Fortune Coin Co. created the first video slot. 

The online casino era started in the 1990s, which meant that slots players could now enjoy playing online slots. Of course, this also meant gamblers would be exposed to a new world of incredible slot machine symbols. 

The original slot machine symbols

The slot symbols that we’ve come to know and love are miles ahead of what was seen in the past. Modern machines have replaced many of the original symbols with new ones. As mentioned above, Charles Fey originally designed the Liberty Bell slot machine in which the highest-paying symbol was the Liberty Bell. It led to the Liberty Bell becoming common in the early days of slot machines. Fey also used the standard playing card symbols, which we still use today. In addition to card symbols, slot players could also see horseshoes and stars on the reels. These early slot machines created the blueprint for many other slot machines to follow. 

As other slot machine manufacturers aimed to differentiate themselves, they introduced new symbols. Initially, finding slot machines with a theme that encouraged American patriotism was common. Of course, this meant that the U.S. flag was a common sight on slot machine reels. In other slot machines, the symbols would link to the prizes that were up for grabs — which, strangely, would lead to the fruit symbols that we all know today. How so? Due to gambling laws, some machines would not pay out cash but offered chewing gum instead. The fruit-flavoured chewing gum would link to the fruit symbols on the reels – which is why, in the UK, they’re called fruit machines. 

The 777 symbol was associated with big jackpots for a very long time. It’s also worth noting that different cultures and religions all have good associations with the 777 slot symbol. The bar and jackpot symbols were both introduced by the Mills Novelty company, and we still see these symbols on reels today.

A blue slot reel showing three red 7s, two bar symbols, and a star symbol.

The video slot era

As the 20th century progressed, slot machine players were introduced to more and more slot symbols. The 1970s would see the introduction of video slots, which meant that designers were no longer limited by fixed-reel mechanical machines. As slot machines became electrified and digitised, slot players were introduced to so many different themed slots. For instance, Irish-themed slots introduced symbols such as leprechauns, pots of gold, rainbows and four-leaf clovers. As online casinos took shape in the 1990s we got to see so many incredible symbols, including animated symbols, 3D graphics, and so many other cool visual effects. The best slots online have enabled us to have versions of the original symbols and enjoy the introduction of scatter, wild, and free spin symbols. 

Slot symbols today

Today, players can access the best online slots on all devices. You can still enjoy the classic and video slot symbols, but you can also play slot games with exceptional graphics. Whether it’s a Nordic theme or a game-show theme, slots players are in for a treat. In addition to the visuals, developers also go out of their way to make it a pleasurable sonic experience.

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