Charles Fey: The Father of the Slot Machine
Charles Fey was born in Bavaria in 1862, the youngest of 16 children. After spending five years as an apprentice to a maker of scientific instruments, he decided America would be the best place for him to fulfill his dream of success. In 1896 Fey opened a factory on Market Street in San Francisco, where he created card machines that improved on Sittman and Pitt's original design. But the best was yet to come.
The "Liberty Bell" Slot Machine
In 1907 Fey teamed up with Herbert Mills, who owned the Mills Novelty Company. A few years later, in another milestone in slot machine history, the company introduced the "Operator Bell" machine that had three reels with 20 different symbols on each reel. The machine also featured a "gooseneck" coin shoot and fruit symbols were added to already existing symbols. The machines were very heavy and, originally, the machine had cast iron feet with toes; this feature was replaced in later versions with ornate scrolled feet. Playing-card symbols were added and the slot also featured a bell that rang when the jackpot was won (a feature of slots that has endured until today).