From one-armed bandit to online pokies

The One-Armed Bandit – The Story of the Classic Pokie Machine

Glowing reels on the screen with flashing symbols, classic with fruits, bells, the BAR symbol, and the number seven or themed without limits of imagination. Today, pokie machines come in a wide variety of designs.

But where does the origin of the first classic pokie, the one-armed bandit, actually lie?

The Traditional One-Armed Bandit – Who Invented the First Pokies and When?

Conjectures about the origin of pokies go back to three different versions:

The Liberty Bell by Charles Fey 1887 – The first 3-reel Pokie

Charles August Fey was an inventor of German origin who emigrated to California. He developed the “Liberty Bell” model. As a mechanic and a gambler, he came up with ideas for optimizing mechanical pokie machines. Gambling machines were already famous but had a rather poorly functioning mechanism.

Fey equipped his machine with three reels, each printed with five pictures, like the classic slots that followed. The card symbols spades, diamonds, hearts, horseshoes, and the Liberty Bell appeared, to which the machine owed its name.

The Liberty Bell became the most famous pokie in the USA. This enabled Fey to found his own company. He could further optimize the invention and rent pokie machines to casinos.

The first fruit machines can be traced back to the Bell Machines company, which Fey founded with Mills Novelty Company.

The Black Cat Pokie by the Caille brothers in 1889

Adolphe and Arthur Caille grew up in the USA as sons of French parents. Both were passionate tinkerers who were gifted in mechanics. They were the inventors of the first automatic shop cash register, which could sort coins utilizing a unique wire system.

The brothers became successful with their company, Caille Cash Carrier Company. Specializing in cash machines, they also devoted themselves to developing gambling machines. In 1889, the Caille Black Cat was launched.

The machine and the newly founded pokie factory Caille Bros. Co. with it became the market leader quickly.

The Black Cat was also operated with a lever on the side. After the coin was inserted, a gear drive made a plate rotate. Beforehand, the player had to bet on one of the available colors.

If the plate remained on the corresponding color, the player won.

The Poker machine by Sittmann and Pitt 1891

The third option for the origin of the one-armed bandit is the gambling machine that Sittmann and Pitt introduced to the market in New York, the USA, in 1891. This is also a precursor of the pokies we know today.

The Sittman and Pitt machine contained 50 poker playing cards, which was also called a poker machine. Here too, after inserting a coin, a lever on the side had to be operated to set the five reels in motion.

Players won according to the poker hand they could achieve.

Where Soes the Term One-Armed Bandit Come From?

Even the first slot machines were called one-armed bandits. The term “one-armed” comes from the lever on the side of the machines that operated them. “Bandit” they were called symbolically because they were like robbers taking the money from the players.

From Mechanical to Electronic Pokies

The pokies of today owe their name to their original function. The slot is the English term for the insertion of coins, which was obligatory for the operation of the machines from the beginning.

The first mechanical pokies that spread worldwide were equipped with the characteristic side lever. When this was operated after the coin was inserted, a gear mechanism in the machine’s housing set the reels in motion one by one.

Later, the lever was replaced by a button. Nowadays, a mouse click is needed for online pokies, and betting is also done digitally. The traditional reels have remained and are displayed virtually on screens in modern electronic machines.

The entire process is computer-controlled and programmed with random generators and fixed payout odds.

The One-Armed Bandit from Las Vegas comes to Australia

The first pokies find their origins in the USA. The most popular stronghold for gambling is Las Vegas in Nevada. However, pokies have spread worldwide and have also become very popular in this country. The first pokies were produced in Australia in the 20th century.

Developments in gaming law strongly influenced the further expansion of the gaming industry. It was not until the 1960s that pokies were first placed in casinos in Australia.

Then, in the 1970s, numerous new casinos and gambling halls opened in Australia. This resulted in a rapid growth of real-money machines, which became a familiar repertoire in casinos and restaurants or shopping centers.

Classic Pokies Online

Online casinos have long been as common as land-based casinos and gaming arcades. Gambling on the internet offers some advantages that users in Australia and worldwide appreciate.

For example, the opening hours are relevant because the virtual casino can be visited around the clock and is also location-independent.

The game selection is also a decisive argument. The assortment in large casinos includes around a hundred machines, while in many online casinos, you can access thousands of pokies from different providers.

There are traditional fruit machines and modern innovations with different themes and features.

A classic and popular one-armed bandit in online casinos is, for example, Mega Joker from NetEnt.

You can try out the pokies for free without registering in the demo version here.