Sure, we’ve all played slot machines a time or two, right? They’re one of the most popular casino games in the world and Greektown Casino has darn near 3,000 slot machines all throughout the casino, including some of the newest and hottest machines you can’t get anywhere else.

But…have you ever wondered where they came from? While slot machines are a common sight, the knowledge of where they came from is not, and the answer might surprise you!

Where did these machines come from, and who invented them? A young gamer pursuing his hobby? An enterprising casino owner? A car mechanic from San Francisco?

If you guessed that third option, you might be surprised to learn you’re correct! Historians have traced the invention of the modern slot machine to a man named Charles Fey, working in his auto garage in San Francisco all the way back in 1887.

The term “slot machine” was actually already in use at that point, but for a drastically different sort of game. Primitive mechanical poker machines were in use in a number of casinos and gaming halls all throughout America that allowed users to win free drinks, cigars, or merchandise upon hitting the winning combination of cards. Fey took this design and instead changed it to three reels, displaying some 10 symbols apiece, designed to award coins to anyone who hits the right three symbols. He called it the Liberty Bell Machine and after renting it to a few saloons, the demand was huge!

These early machines basically worked like their modern-day descendants (like the ones you’ll find at Greektown). Sure, there are no digital displays or fun themes, but you’re still pulling a lever in time to stop three spinning reels – sounds familiar, right? Fey would further revise and improve upon his original design, tweaking the rules and altering the design and mechanics when needed, and would later turn to factory production to keep up with the increasing demand. By as early as 1910, you could find his machines in casinos as far away as Europe!

Of course, this isn’t the WHOLE history of slot machines (and we’ll have plenty to talk about in the future, don’t you worry) but you know what they say about knowing your roots! And the next time you slide on up to one of our Detroit casino slot machines, you’ll know a little more about where they came from!