History of slot machine symbols

Slots are the most popular form of gambling. Wherever you are in the world, you will not find a casino without a slot machine. Long gone are the days with slot machines with dinging bells and mechanical reels, now casinos both online like King Casino video slots and offline offer a variety of slots with exciting symbols, excellent animations, and 3D graphics. In this blog post, we will be going through the history of slot machine symbols from 100 years ago to today.

The original symbols

The slot machine was invented in the late 19th century by San Francisco mechanic Charles Fey. He named this slot machine the Liberty Bell. The Liberty Bell was a very simple slot machine and in order to win, players had to land 5 matching symbols. These symbols included horseshoes, bells, a diamond playing card suit, heart playing card suit, and spade playing card suit. The biggest payout of fifty cents was achieved by matching three golden bells in a row. 

Why poker?

Playing card suits can be seen on lots of slot machines. Today, you will typically see ace, king, queen, and jack symbols as well as the number 10. Poker is a very different casino game to slot so why are there many poker symbols within them? Poker machines are, in fact, a lot older than slot machines. Naturally, when the first slot machine was created, it was inspired by this much-loved casino game. 

When things got fruity

To make the slot machines more exciting and colourful, fruit symbols were added. This is why lots of people refer to slot machines as fruit machines. The reason why fruit symbols were added is because the machine would reward players with fruit sweets or chewing gum depending on which winning combination they landed. Fruits seen on the slot machines were typically cherries, lemons, apples, watermelons, and plums. Over the years, many other fruits have been added to the reels. 

The mystery of the bar

In the 90s, slot machines got banned. People still wanted the thrill of spinning reels so rather than a cash prize which was not allowed, the rewards for winning were fruits and bubble gum. When you won, you would receive a fruit flavoured gum.

Although not 100% confirmed, it is believed that major companies took advantage of this to promote their products. One of these being the Bell-Fruit Company. The logo of the company was another symbol that was added to the reels on the slot machine. The Bell-Fruit Company’s logo looked like a bar of gum. This then later transformed into the bar symbol that we see on lots of slot machines today. 

Slot machines of today

Today, all of the symbols found on traditional slot machines can still be seen on today’s slot machines. Most commonly, you’ll find the playing card suits and fruits. Slot machines have evolved so much over the past 100 years. It’s more sophisticated and exciting than landing 3 matching fruits to win. Casino game developers have changed the look of slots giving them symbols to suit a specific theme, for example, a slot with a pirate theme may have symbols including pirates, ships, treasure maps, and a treasure chest filled with gold. For an Irish-themed slot, you may find various lucky charms, leprechauns, rainbows, and pots of gold.

As well as having lots of new and exciting symbols to look at as you spin the reels, the symbols do so much more. There are wild symbols, scatter symbols, stacked symbols, sticky symbols, and special symbols that help you to unlock thrilling bonus features.

What do these symbols mean?

Let’s take a look at what some of the slot machine symbols of today mean.

The wild symbol – The majority of slots have a wild symbol. The wild symbol typically replaces all other symbols apart from the wild symbol to form winning combinations. Landing 3, 4 or 5 of these will give you a cash reward. The wild is typically a high-paying symbol and filling the whole reel with them could land you a huge payout.

The scatter symbol – Most slots also have a scatter symbol. The scatter symbol is often very exciting as it helps you to unlock one of the bonus games. Typically, you’ll need to land 3 or more scatters to activate the bonus feature. The scatter symbol cannot be replaced by the wild symbol.

Stacked symbols – Stacked symbols can lead to some fantastic wins. These symbols are fairly new but are perhaps one of the most exciting. Stacked symbols are exactly as they sound. They are stacks of the same symbols that take up multiple spaces on the reels. They give you a higher chance of hitting a winning combination. In combination with wilds, stacked symbols could help you win big.

Sticky symbols – Again, sticky symbols are exactly as they sound. A sticky symbol cannot move. It remains stuck in the same position for a number of spins which increases the player’s chance of winning.

Multiplier symbols – Multiplier symbols can be very exciting. Multiplier symbols increase your winnings by a certain amount. This symbol isn’t seen that often in slots but when you find it, it is excellent!

Bonus symbols – Bonus symbols lead to bonus features. Landing a certain number of bonus symbols on the reels will activate the bonus feature. This is usually a free spins feature where you win free spins. Bonus features offer lots of free spins, multipliers, and cash rewards. 


Overall, slot machine symbols have advanced so much in the past 100 years. The casino industry, in general, has come such a long way. I hope you have learned something interesting from this blog post! Who knew that slot machines used to reward sweets? In the past 20 years alone, slot machine symbols have changed dramatically. With the addition of wild symbols, stacked symbols and sticky symbols, slot machine gaming is so much more exciting. Who knows what slot machine symbols will be added in the future!

Leave a Reply