The Origins of Classic Slot Machine Symbols

If you’ve ever played slot machines, you’ll have noticed that certain symbols crop up time and time again across different games. While modern technology means that developers use many interesting images and themes, these classic symbols are still used. So what are the commercial or practical reasons for their existence?

Fruits Used to Mean Flavors of Chewing Gum as Prizes

Fruits are commonly used on slots. and we can see this in a modern online game like the Fruity Burst slot, where oranges, apples, and strawberries are all used to good effect. This game from Virtue Fusion is set inside a fruit store and shows the owner at the side of the reels. Yet, despite this attention to detail, the developers have used simple, colorful symbols of the type that have long been associated with slots.

The use of fruit symbols can be traced back to the time when winnings were paid out in the form of packets of fruit-flavored gum. This occurred at the start of the 20th century but many online and physical slots still use a fruit theme as a way of harking back to this tradition, as well as for the attention-grabbing colors this allows them to use. 

The bar symbol that we often see in these games is also said to have started as an image of a bar-shaped packet of chewing gum. Over the years, this image has been altered until it no longer resembles the original, but modern-day players are still happy to see them form a winning combination.

Playing Cards Were Used to Form Winning Lines

The first types of slot machines often have playing cards that players needed to form winning lines with. This turned out to be a simple yet effective method that players could easily follow. This led to the different suits being widely used as symbols in many different slots. In fact, even before the first slots were made, earlier gambling machines used up to 50 face cards that would randomly create poker hands.

In modern times, playing card symbols are typically used as generic symbols that offer the lowest wins in any game. Not all current games use them but many have included face cards, in particular, as the lowest-paying symbols on different themed slots. As described by The Playing Card Factory, these face cards are each said to represent a famous person from history.

Bells Go Back to the Very First Slot Ever Made

The last of the classics we’re looking at is also the most difficult for us to pin down an exact reason why they’re included in so many slots. What isn’t in doubt is that Charles Fey created the first commercial slot machine and called it the Liberty Bell model. Very few examples survive, as the inventor’s workshop was destroyed in the 1906 San Francisco earthquake.

It could be that he included the Liberty Bell image for purely patriotic reasons, and it was the highest-paying symbol in this first slot. Yet, since the other images were playing card symbols and the traditional good luck image of a horseshoe, there may be another reason that’s been lost to us over time.

The symbols that we see on current slots all have reasons for existing, even if these reasons aren’t immediately obvious at first. With this industry evolving so quickly, it’s reassuring for players to see that these classic images are still as popular as ever.

About Carson Derrow

My name is Carson Derrow I'm an entrepreneur, professional blogger, and marketer from Arkansas. I've been writing for startups and small businesses since 2012. I share the latest business news, tools, resources, and marketing tips to help startups and small businesses to grow their business.