Slots Facts

What is the Oldest Slot Machine Symbol?

Walk into any casino—or log in to any online casino—and you’ll find slot machines. They’re one of the most popular and well-established casino games ever invented. And the symbols that appear on these slots are equally iconic. Even people who’ve never gambled in their life are familiar with the fruit and poker symbols that appear on the reels.

Author: Manyspins Published: September 6, 2021 Last update: July 14, 2022

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So how have slot machine icons evolved? What’s the oldest slot machine symbol? And which original slot machine symbols still appear on online slots today?

What Were the Original Slot Machine Symbols?

The original slot machines were known as one-armed bandits due to the fact they ‘stole’ your money and were operated by a single protruding lever, akin to an arm.

These machines were found in the majority of American bars during the 1800s—places where playing poker was also incredibly popular. Therefore, it was only natural that the inventors of the first slot machines took inspiration from poker and these machines featured card symbols on their reels.

What is the Oldest Slot Machine Symbol?

As a result of being played in environments also featuring poker, some of the oldest slot machine symbols are standard poker symbols.

Another of the oldest slot machine icons is the Liberty Bell.

In 1895, an inventor called Charles Fey created the first fully automated slot machine which could pay out cash to the winner, rather than them having to collect their winnings from a bartender.

Fey’s model slot machine had 3 reels and 5 slot symbols. One of these symbols was the Liberty Bell, after which the machine was named. There was also a horseshoe, plus card suits. The highest payout was awarded to players who managed to get 3 bell symbols.

When Did Fruit Slot Symbols First Appear?

It isn’t until the 1900s that we first see fruit appearing on slot machine reels. When slot machines were banned in 1902, slot machine creators came up with a sneaky way to bypass the new law. They created slot machines—or vendor machines—that dispensed chewing gum instead of money. This chewing gum was available in a variety of fruity flavors—hence the fruit slot symbols, which typically included cherries, oranges, melons, and apples.

One of these slot manufacturers was the Bell Fruit Gum Company. They added their logo—a bar of gum—onto their reels. That Bar symbol continues to appear on slots today.

In 1964, the first electromechanical slot was released by Bally and was known as Money Honey. This led to the introduction of new slot symbols including a crown, star, gem, clover, and the number 7.

In 1976, the first video slot was developed by Fortune Coin, and also featured stars, crowns, 7s, and gems.

And in 1996, WMS Industries released ‘Reel ‘Em’, one of the first-ever video slots with a second screen bonus round.

How Have Online Slots Changed Slot Design?

Even after the invention of online slots in the mid-1990s, many of the original slot symbols continued to appear. However, as new games developed with different themes, layouts, and structures, there were new symbols introduced too.

Today, you’ll frequently find the Ten, Jack, Queen, King, and Ace on online slots.

You’ll also come across Wild icons, a special bonus symbol that can take the place of any other symbol to help form a winning combination. There are also scatter symbols—hard to land and which trigger bonus spin rounds.

In addition, you may also find bonus symbols, which trigger bonus features that vary depending on the theme of the game. And then there are multiplier symbols that increase the size of the payout along winning paylines.

Here you have all slot types listed so that you can select your favorite!

Which Iconic Symbols Still Appear in Online Slots Today?

Several of the most iconic slot machine symbols still appear on classic slot machines today, including the bar, bell, cherry, and lemon. You don’t often see the horseshoe on slot machines today, however. It has generally been replaced by the lucky number 7 instead.