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The first mechanical slot machine was invented in 1894 by Charles Fey, a car mechanic from San Francisco, California. He made a revised version in 1898. Called the Liberty Bell, it had three spinning reels that were painted with diamond, space and heart symbols, as well as three Liberty Bells. A spin of three Liberty Bells gave the player the highest payout, which totaled fifty cents.
Demand was popular and Fey could not keep up with the demand for the machines. He refused to sell manufacturing rights to his slot machines, so other companies began producing knock offs. By 1908, slot machines could be found in saloons, cigar stores, bowling alleys, barber shops, and brothels. Some slot machines paid out in food or gum to circumvent anti-gambling laws.
The first electronic slot machine was produced by the Bally Company in 1963. Called Money Honey, it had a bottomless hopper and could pay out up to 500 coins without an attendant. The first video slot machine was invented in 1976 in Kearny Mesa, California by the Fortune Coin Company. Collectors of slot machines are attracted to the vintage mechanical slot machines with their elaborate designs. Machines in excellent condition are worth the highest prices.
Only about 100 Liberty Bell slot machines were produced by Charles Fey. His descendents owned and operated a saloon and museum in Reno, Nevada, displaying the original Liberty Bell slot machine until 2006
Vintage slot machines from the 1930s and 1940s consistently sell for $2,000-3,000
Bally's Money Honey slot machine is often referred to as the "machine that changed Vegas". The coin hopper that allowed the machine to offer huge payouts made slot machine gambling extremely popular