Who Invented Pokie Machines

Isabella Miller | 🕒 4 minutes read

Pokie machines, also known as slot games, are very popular with Kiwi punters. The vast majority of the gaming market is held by slot machine games, with over 10% of punters choosing pokies as their preferred game.

In today’s world, pokie machines are highly advanced, with in-depth themes, great soundtracks and plenty of bonus rounds and exhilarating features that make for an epic gaming experience.

Pokie machines have a long, illustrious history that dates back over a century. In this guide, we’ll be taking a deep dive into the history of pokie machines, paying homage to the pioneers of slot machine games and investigating how they’ve evolved.

The Early History of Pokie Machines

Charles Fey is the man behind the modern pokie game. He created a very simple slot machine game called “Liberty Bell” in the 1890s. Bavarian-born, Fey created the first slot machine in response to the growing demand for new entertainment options. Fey was an avid inventor and enjoyed creating inventions that allowed saloons to offer new ways to gamble to punters.

Liberty Bell was an instant hit, offering a simple, enjoyable form of gambling and amusement to customers. It featured three reels, with the diamond, spade, horseshoe and heart symbols painted on them. Punters won money when they were able to line up three symbols.

The biggest jackpot came from lining up three Liberty Bell symbols, netting gamblers fifty cents as a jackpot. This is about $18.54 in today’s money but was a substantial sum for the time. Today’s dollar buys less than 3% of what it did back then, and for many, fifty cents was nearly a half day’s wage.

Fey quickly realised the profitability of his invention and marketed the product to saloons and other establishments as a way to attract customers and share profits. He was able to generate substantial revenue from this business model.

Unfortunately, because gambling was illegal in California at the time, he couldn’t patent his design, and many competitors quickly sprung into the market. Advancements were quickly made, and in 1896, the Mills Novelty Company introduced a lever that punters could use to spin the reels without having to pull a handle. The first game to feature this development was “Operator’s Bell.”

This didn’t mean Charles Fey lucked out, however. The explosion in popularity of slot machine games meant the inventor was busier than ever throughout the late 1890s, and he often couldn’t keep up with demand from his San Francisco workshop.

Who are the Pioneers of Slot Machine Games?

We’ve explored the man behind the modern pokie machines, Charles Fey, but who else pioneered the development of slot machine games? Let’s explore.

Herbert Mills

Herbert Mills, an industrialist from Chicago, played a crucial role in the evolution of slot machine games. He improved upon Charles Fey’s design and introduced the “Operator Bell” in 1907, featuring fruit symbols like cherries and lemons.

This innovative approach set a new trend in slot machine aesthetics. Mills also pioneered the use of a lever mechanism, enhancing the gaming experience. His contributions cemented his status as a pivotal figure in the slot machine industry.

Bally Technologies

Bally Technologies, formerly known as Bally Manufacturing Corporation, played a significant role in advancing slot machine technology. Their groundbreaking “Money Honey” slot machine, introduced in 1963, revolutionised the industry by being the first electromechanical slot machine, enabling automatic payouts and coin hoppers.

This innovation improved the gaming experience, making it more efficient and user-friendly. Bally Technologies became a powerhouse in the evolution of slot machine games, laying the foundation for future innovations.

Si Redd

Si Redd, founder of International Game Technology (IGT), was a visionary in the world of gambling and slot machines. His most notable contribution was the development of video poker machines in the 1970s, blending the strategy of poker with the simplicity of slot machines.

These machines gained popularity and laid the groundwork for modern video slot games. Si Redd’s innovative approach positioned him as a key figure in the evolution of the slot machine industry.

The Evolution of Pokie Machines

Pokies have come a long way since their inception all those years ago. From a completely mechanical machine, it advanced to a completely virtual system.

Introduction of Video Slot Games

Video slot games revolutionised the world of pokie machines in the late 20th century. By replacing physical reels with virtual ones and integrating cutting-edge technology, these games offered larger jackpots, a wider range of themes, and increased player engagement. The use of video graphics and random number generators made them more immersive and exciting.

The Emergence of Online Slots

In the late 1990s, the digital age brought about a significant evolution in the slot machine industry with the emergence of online slot games. These games made online gaming more accessible, allowing players to enjoy their favourite slots from home.

Mobile Slot Games

The rise of smartphones has led to the emergence of mobile slot games, bringing convenience and innovation to the gaming industry. These games are specifically designed for mobile devices, allowing players to enjoy their favourite slot games anytime, anywhere.

Pokie Machines in Today’s World – What’s Next?

The future of Pokie machines lies in technological advancements like Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) slots, offering an immersive gaming experience.

Integration of blockchain technology and cryptocurrency promises increased security and speed in transactions. Personalised gaming experiences tailored to individual preferences are also anticipated.

The evolving technology ensures an exciting future for players and operators in the pokie machine industry.


Online Pokies have come a long way since Charles Fey’s “Liberty Bell.” Video slots and progressive jackpots are now the norm, and punters expect a high-quality, immersive gaming experience every time they play. From the simplistic, 3-reel mechanical slots of the 19th century to the action-packed, 200+ payline video slots of today’s gaming world, pokie machines continue to capture the hearts of punters around the nation!

Isabella Miller
Hello, I’m Isabella Miller the main author of the site pokiesonline.co.nz. I have a vast experience of playing pokie games at casinos around the world, and I would like to share my insights and experience with every enthusiastic kiwi out there! Over 15 years of experience with casinos around the world (especially in New Zealand), you are getting my personal best insights into the exiting world of pokies and casino games. I will be your tour guide into playing the best games, getting the best tips and even what bonuses should you look at while playing online casinos. Enjoy your time with our site, Isabella.