Slots 101: Slot Symbols Explained

Think of a bustling casino. Its fabulous colours, vibrant air, and the spirited crowd. The chances are that somewhere in the picture, there are a plethora of slot machines with their familiar clatter of reels.

Since its invention, slot machines have become an integral part of the casino allure. Be it your famous Vegas spot, or a gambling site, you will have dedicated slot machines that always seem to attract a crowd. Fruit machines have stood the test of the time, and along with it the timeless fabled slot symbols. The bells, bars, and fruits have become part and parcel of the thrill. 

Much like the history of gambling, fruit machines have also had a very intriguing journey. Believe it or not, these machines were not always paying out money as rewards. Instead, the symbols decided the wins. And undeniably, the fruit symbols have played a significant role in elevating slot games to its current fame. 

The Journey of Slot Machines

Most online casinos today have an array of games that could appease any jaded slot fan. From 5-reeks to superheroes, they are adorned with splendid additions of jackpots, multipliers, and wildcards that could make the game incessantly thrilling. 

However, back in the early days of the slot machine journey, this wasn’t the case. In fact, even in the early 2010s, the most popular online video slots were still featuring fruit symbols in all their flavours and colours. These symbols often gave the player satisfaction that the developer knows the classic slot gaming space inside-out. 

So, how did fruit symbols become associated with the conventional slot game? And more importantly, why does it still hold a prime seat in the gallery of symbols? Well, the story is as old as the history of slot machines itself. 

The Brief History of the First Slots 

Though old, fruit machines began their appearance only after a few decades of the original slot. When it all started, the games used 5-reels that showed card faces. But they did not dispense any prizes. 

Instead, the players would have to notify the bar attendant when they landed a win. It was up to the owners to decide the award. They began to gain popularity in bars and quickly became famous as the “One-armed bandit.” The pulling lever was compared to the “one arm of a bandit” that could easily take away all your money. 

And thus, card symbols became synonymous with slots from the beginning. 

But there was an obvious issue here, the lack of automatic payouts. And in 1887, Charles Fey found a solution to this. 

The 3-Reel Liberty Bell

In the years leading to 1895, the classic slots invented by Charles Fey came to be the first proper slot machine. Not only were they more efficient, but he also managed to reduce the reels to three. 

Replacing the typical card symbols were the three suits of cards, horseshoes, and the Liberty Bell, which gave it the name. A spin leading to three Liberty Bells in a row guaranteed the biggest payout at the time, a total of ten nickels or fifty cents. 

It went on to become one of the evergreen slot machine symbols. 

classic slot symbols

Want to Play? Win Some Chewing Gums

By the 1900s, One-armed Bandits had gained the reputation of stripping people of their money. But by then, the gambling aficionados were rising in number, and the Liberty Bell machines were in huge demand. 

Even the history of gambling machines is a heated one. As Charles Fey refused to sell his design, soon, his machine was replicated everywhere. 

In 1907, Herbet Mills managed to develop a knock-off machine. The Mills Novelty Company started manufacturing the Operator Bell, with a slight twist. He was the first one to introduce fruit symbols to slots. 

However, there is an interesting fact here. During the time, US laws had strictly forbidden slot machines in an effort to curb gambling addiction. So the alternative that the manufacturers came up with was introducing a new way of gambling, but with gum. And the fruit machines offered the perfect recipe for that. 

These machines gave out winnings in the form of chewing gum, with the fruit symbols depicting the flavour. If you managed to hit three plums, then a plum-flavoured gum delight was all yours. 

Fruit symbols in shapes of plums, pineapples, cherries, oranges, lemons, and watermelons soon became a common sight. Around this time, the Chicago Mills Novelty Company saw an opportunity for marketing here. The fruit slots were so immensely popular that the Bell-Fruit Gum Company used the symbols for their logo. It worked in reverse as well, and the famous “BAR” symbol of the company eventually replaced the gums. 

These slots were soon in fashion and were called “vendor machines.” It offered the thrill of a new game but worked under the same concept of previous machines. 

Into the Welcoming Hands of America 

The Operator Bell machines found their way to the American convenience stores in no time. They were vibrant, filled with attractive graphics and sophistication. As they were merely dispensing gum, the line between the vending machine and gambling became blurrier than ever. In fact, the modern-day vending machine is a direct descendant of the once-popular fruit slot, the Trade Stimulators. 

Soon, much like any other industry, developers were in line to manufacture their models, and the payouts started to get bigger and bigger. The reign of fruit slots was nowhere near over. 

With New Technology came New Experiences

By the 1960s, slot machines were a steady favourite of casinos everywhere. The most prominent slot developers of the 20th century were Bally and Williams, who managed to update the older successful version into an even better one. In 1964, Bally developed the first electromechanical slot machine. Appropriately named Money Honey, these still operated with the concept of the lever, but all other aspects were controlled electrically inside the machine. 

Money Honey had the addition of the electric hopper that was initially used for counting coins in banks. As you can guess, these machines could hold considerably more than the previous ones and ended up giving up much higher rewards. The result was a jackpot of hundreds rather than a handful of coins. 

The Video Era 

The advent of video in the 1980s took the slot machine to a whole new level. Traditional fruit machines or video slots using fruits were also gaining in popularity. 

The next best thing with fruit symbols was Megabucks -the progressive slot machine. It has three reels with one pay line that goes right through the middle of the reels. The game had the captivating combinations of the typical slot machine symbols, the lucky 7s, the tasty cherries, and the famous bars. 

The game was pretty straightforward, and before long, Megabucks was Nevada’s best alternative to a lottery. 

online slot symbols

Entering the Online Slots 

When the internet began its boom, the developers were also keen to get their share. The first formats saw the straight conversions of the typical slot machines. The standard reels with images of fruits were often accompanied with an arm on the side, to complete the experience of the One-armed Bandit. 

Games such as Fruit Club were the perfect digital counterparts of the old 5-reel fruit slot formats. However, aside from the success of the Progressives in Vegas, fruit-themed slots are becoming increasingly considered as a retro alternative. 

The Allure of Slot Symbols 

To this day, fruit machines are considered a crucial component of the casino ambience. While games like poker and blackjack require high stakes and serious contemplation, slots stood out as a pure fun aspect of gambling. It is all about the hit, the coins, and the gratification of the instant win. 

For those who are familiar with slots, the sight of fruits in an online title is nothing short of pleasant. Classic symbols might not be a favourite anymore, yet there are still tons of people who prefer a classic style game to a sophisticated, overbearing title.

Take a look at any classic slot today. Be it a good old machine or an online version, you will in all likeness see bells, fruits, and bars. Add the lucky number seven to that, and you have got the perfect old-school set up. 

The early models have influenced the vast majority of video titles. Game developers are continuously looking for innovative and new ideas to capture the audience. The gums may have made way for modern currencies, but the appeal is the same. Today, fruit symbol slots not only give a sense of vintage charm, but it has the potential to impress a seasoned gambler with its simplicity and fun elements.

It goes without saying that classic oldies are the best, and the continued popularity of fruit symbols only attests to that. There is just something about three cherries lining up that can take you back down memory lane. The fruits are not yet ready to vanish behind the flashy colours and designs of modern online slots!

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