Where did Mega Moolah originate? A look at the history of slots

Given the popularity of games like Mega Moolah, it is easy to see why so many people assume slot games, especially online slot games, are a relatively recent phenomenon. However, the truth of their story is far more interesting than simply what has happened over recent times and indeed, the first slot games originates more than a century ago.

In this article, we are going to learn how we have legendary games like the Mega Moolah slot, Thunderstruck II and Major Millions today, how those games have developed over time and how they have changed over that period. We'll head right back in time to the original slot machine, the first one ever developed and learn a little about the evolution of the slot right up to the modern day and the big money progressives like Mega Moolah you can play from your smartphone, tablet or PC.

Mega Moolah was first released back in 2006 but the company responsible for it, Microgaming had been around in the very early days of the Internet, becoming one of the first sites to offer online casino gaming over ten years earlier. However, the history of Mega Moolah can actually be traced back way before then, in fact right back to the end of the 19th century.

The origins of the modern slot game

Throughout history, humanity has enjoyed games of chance in many forms. Indeed, stretching back through time to even the earliest civilisations, there are examples of many different people across the globe indulging in games of chance. It seems that humanity's love for trying to upset the odds has remained constant, it is just how we choose to play that has altered over the years.

Many people feel that Charles Fey is the father of the modern slot and while there is some truth in that, the company that made the first machine that resembled a slot game was actually Sittman and Pitt who made their poker machine in New York in 1891.

The machine featured five drums and on each drum were ten poker cards. Two cards, the ten of spades and jack of hearts had been removed from the pack to increase the house edge. Players paid a nickel to spin the reels and if they won, as there was no automatic pay out on the machine, the bar would pay the winning player in the form of prizes, such as drinks or tobacco products.

However, at the time the Poker Machine was growing in popularity, an inventor known as Charles Fey was busying himself developing a machine that could do away with the need for a bartender to dispense the prizes to the winners. To do this, Fey had to simplify his machine and his had just three reels and just five symbols on each of the reels. Hearts, Diamonds, Spades, Horseshoes and lastly, a Liberty Bell, which is what gave the slot its name.

Using an ingenious series of gears and cranks, Fey designed his slot to pay out automatically and it proved to be a huge hit when it was released sometime around 1891. Fey did not patent his idea, and so many other companies began to copy it, although Fey's company also found a huge number of orders coming his way, which saw him initially struggle to keep up with demand.

Within the space of a few years, Fey's machine Liberty Bell would come to be recognised as the first real slot game. However, in 1902, slot machines were banned in the prohibition era but enterprising individuals realised that slot games could still be popular if instead of paying out prizes in cash or booze, they could pay out in chewing gum or sweets.

By 1907, the first fruit machine, named because of the fruit-flavoured sweets it dispensed as well as the fruit symbols on the reels, became popular. This was the first time fruit symbols and the bar symbol appeared on a slot and they would go on to become hugely popular symbols across the world in years to come.

The Advent of Electronics and the Microchip

From the early 20th century up until the mid-1960s, slot games essentially operated in the same way, by that they were entirely mechanical. The number of slots available of course proliferated and slot machines became hugely popular in casinos and bars during this period.

However, by 1964, a new type of slot had been developed. Bally released Money Honey, the first electro-mechanical slot game, which offered many more ways to win than the traditional slot and which also had the ability to pay out an unheard of sum of 500 coins.

The slot proved to be a huge success and paved the way for the era of mechanical slot games but that era was only relatively short lived as by the mid 70s and early 80s, a new technological breakthrough was to change slot games forever and that was the invention of the microchip.

Microchips allowed designers to have many more potential outcomes for their slot, which of course meant higher jackpots could be offered. Furthermore, slots now started to have other features too, including Nudges and side games you could trigger by landing a certain feature on the reels. This technology also allowed slot games to be daisy-chained together and the first progressive jackpot slots in casinos became a reality, offering big cash prizes.

Soon slots producers were moving away entirely from electro-mechanical games and focusing on the power of the microchip but an even bigger technological advance would change the slot landscape once again.

1990's - present day - The Internet

By the 1990s, the Internet was growing in importance and over the years, a greater number of people began to go online and utilise the services there. It didn't take long for companies to realise that this was a rich new avenue to explore and companies like Microgaming were among the first to offer online versions of slot games through its casinos.

These slot games didn't require a physical machine to play, they were entirely software based and could be played online. Initial games were relatively simple but soon games developed additional features, such as Wild symbols, Scatter symbols, Free Spins games and second screen bonus features.

Of course, progressive slots also took off at this time with Microgaming releasing the very first game, Cash Splash. However, it was the release of Mega Moolah, with its minimum bet of 0.25 and guaranteed top progressive prize of at least 1 million which proved to be the real winner for the company and producing many millionaires too.

Since those days, slots have continued to develop and they remain a key element of any real world or online casinos appeal. They generate by far the most amount of revenue for both online and real world casinos of any entertainments and they are without doubt the most popular form of online casino game in the world today.

Nowadays slots can have from between 1 winning line to many thousands, they can be set out in a wide variety of configurations, pay out a few pence to millions. Never have slot players have had so much choice available to them, literally at their fingertips.

It's been an interesting journey for the modern day online slot, but its journey is only just beginning and it is going to be interesting to see how this mega industry continues to grow over the next few years.

Byline: This article was published by Mega Moolah expert Henry. Media and other enquiries.

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