Ah, the 1970s. The era of disco, Panini sticker albums, and TV shows like Wonder Woman. It was also the age in which slot machines became very popular in many countries throughout the world.

So, let’s take a trip down memory lane and explore some of the characteristics of slot games in the ‘70s.

The Origination of Slot Machine Games
Did you know that the exciting history of slot machines began all the way back in 1891 when Sittman and Pitt developed a gambling machine in New York that was the precursor of the modern slot machine?

The game was based on poker. The machine contained five drums that held fifty cards. Players would insert a coin, pull a lever, and the drum would spin. If the players got a good poker hand from the random act, they would win.

But it was the Liberty Bell machine, which was devised by Charles Fey in San Francisco and which used a much simpler automatic mechanism, that holds the title of the world’s first modern slot machine game.

It had three spinning reels that contained the five symbols of diamonds, spades, hearts, horseshoes, and the Liberty Bell. The machine was such a success that it spawned a thriving mechanical slot game industry that has continued right through to today.

It wasn’t long before the Liberty Bell paved the way for machines that more closely resemble modern slot machines, with symbols of fruits like lemons, oranges, cherries, and plums.

Slot Machines Go Electronic in the 1970s
The 1970s holds a special place in slot machine history because it was the decade that saw the creation of the very first electronic video slot. It was launched in 1976 by Fortune Coin in California and set the blueprint for the characteristics of slot games for the rest of the decade and beyond.

For its display, the machine used a modified 19-inch Sony colour television. After a trial run at the Hilton Hotel in Las Vegas, it gained approval from Nevada’s State Gaming Commission and was rolled out in establishments along the Las Vegas Strip.

Characteristics of 1970s Slot Machines
The fruit symbols were already widely used for slot machines, but they became even more of a well-known characteristic of slots in the 1970s, in both traditional and electronic slot machines.

The other main characteristic of 1970s slot machines was the nudge feature. The introduction of the nudge and hold features enabled players to nudge a reel downwards to hopefully gain a winning combination of symbols on the next spin.

As the decade continued, and into the 1980s and beyond, both mechanical and electro-mechanical slot machines saw more and more bonus features being introduced. Today, mechanical, electrical, and video slots contain dozens of bonus features and bonus games, including things like cash ladders, bonus boards, and progressive jackpots.

Another characteristic that became fashionable in the 1970s and beyond was that of themes for slot machine games. As with pinball machines and video games, we started to see the introduction of tie-ins with popular TV shows and popular bands of the time.

However, in truth, there are now more slot games available with retro ‘70s themes than there actually were in the 1970s.

Today’s Retro-themed Slots
Today’s slot games, both in brick-and-mortar casinos and at online casinos, are very varied in terms of both features and themes.

If you want to get a feel of the 1970s, it’s probably better to play modern slot games that are inspired by the ‘70s, rather than to try and track down slot machines from the era.

For example, you will find lots of slots that have ‘70s TV and movie themes, such as ones based on James Bond, Monty Python and Dallas, as well as ones that pay tribute to disco bands like the Bee Gees.