It’s no use having a great idea if nobody sees it. For the better part of a century, slot machines were a curiosity, relegated to the occasional arcade or gambling parlour until people became more mobile and more willing to spend money on entertainment.
The automobile was the first major step on this road, but the general level of affluence did not permit the slots to enjoy much of a revival until the 1950s. A post-war economy and a boom in entertainment and travel saw individuals and families taking to the road, and even to the air, in search of a week or weekend of (relatively) exotic thrills.
This was the era that birthed the Las Vegas Strip, and saw Atlantic City develop its signature Boardwalk. Fun actually became something that adults could taste, with varying amounts of sin for spice. In the resulting arcades and casinos, novelty machines came and went, but the little star of our show remain a constant…and constantly improving.
By the mid-1960’s, the slot machine hadn’t gone through too many changes. Electricity enabled flashing lights and sounds, as well as a nifty new way to give and take coins, but a time-traveler from the 1880’s would have had very little trouble getting used to the minor differences. And this may be the secret of the slots…despite vast improvements in technology, there is still a basic fascination with the process: insert coin, pull the handle, watch the reels, see the results.
Even when the microprocessor and video screen began to make mechanical parts less common, the system strayed more toward “faithful” than toward “experimental”. Additions and gimmicks were plentiful, but the three and five reels (increasingly more often simulated) still showed the classic cards, bars, and fruits. Paylines expanded from the single-line classics to three, five, even twenty lines…yet they were still lines of basic symbols, almost childishly easy to grasp.
The next step was to take this self-contained amusement and introduce it to a world without any boundaries whatsoever…the world of the Internet…
When this happened it seemingly exploded over night. Think about the number of laws that have changed over the last few years in reference to the availability and legality of the online gambling industry. Gambling is very mainstream now as a whole. I believe this is in large part due to the introduction to the world over the Internet. Gambling has been around since mankind came up with currency at it’s earliest stages. As soon as man had money he was betting it on something or other. But until the introduction of Internet gambling the whole thing was kept very hush-hush. I think that responsible people worldwide are better for the changes we’ve seen.