The invention of the slot machine came about in 1909. The Industry Novelty Company used reel symbols of fruits to entice players. In 1912, the company called their machines “chewing gum dispensers,” as the symbols suggested the flavours of chewing gum. The symbols were stylized to form a bar symbol. The invention of the jackpot occurred in 1916, when the Mills Novelty Company introduced a machine that reclaimed all coins.
While slot machines can produce many winners, some players may still be net losers. For instance, a player who bet a nickel on a slot machine with twenty paylines would lose fifty cents if only one payline was triggered. However, the machine would still show a winning payout, so the player would think that they had won the game. Moreover, multiple scientific studies have shown that the human brain interprets a near-miss result as a win and this can be addictive.
The technology behind the slot machine is quite impressive. The game is based on a random number generator (RNG) that cycles through thousands of numbers per second, stopping at a particular position. The random number generator is designed to correspond to the symbols that appear on the reels. In earlier slots, the math was simpler and the odds of getting any of the symbols were equal. Nowadays, it is difficult to imagine any game without a random number generator.