The first slot machine was developed in the United States of America by Charles Fey. It was a very simple game called the Liberty Bell and was an instant hit. In the early 1900's the first slot machines appeared on Australian shores. While they were illegal they were popular with gamblers.
In 1953 an Australian company called Aristocrat saw that the slot machine business was the way of the future and developed their first game known as the Clubman which was designed by Joe Heywood. The Clubman was replaced with the Clubmaster in 1955.
One year later the government of NSW legalized gaming machines in registered clubs. It was this single decision that changed the face of gambling in Australia and around the world forever.
The pokies were quickly a hit with players even though at the time they were quite basic games. It was not until several years later that the first lights were installed in the games.
The next few decades offered not much new in terms of the games. They all had three spinning reels and either one, three or five lines. The jackpots were by today's standards small and the interactivity was limited to pulling the handle and waiting for the reels to stop.
It was not until the mid 1980's when the first video slots rolled off the production lines and were released to the public. This was the biggest development in gaming since Charles Fey had invented the first game.
Not only did the games now have five reels but they also had many more lines and offered additional ways to win such as the chance to win free spin features or a gamble option.
In the early 1990's several Australian States approved the release of poker machines into pubs. This saw a much more widespread availability of the games in Queensland in 1992, South Australia in 1994 and NSW in 1997.
Today no matter where you are, if you walk into a casino you are sure to see whole banks of video slots. From Las Vegas to Sydney the pokies are one of the most, if not the most popular form of gambling.
Online Pokies History
In the early 1990's the first Internet casinos opened and delivered a whole new way of playing pokies. One of the earliest casinos was The Gaming Club who are still in operation today.
While online casinos have been around now for over 20 years it was only in 2004 when Microgaming released Thunderstruck that Australian style pokies became available online. This started a wave of new game releases to where today you have hundreds of online games to choose from.
The latest chapter in the history of poker machines is the move to mobile gaming. With the invention of the smart phone and tablets you can now play and win on the pokies at any time and anywhere.
Where the name "Pokies" come from?
While there is no documented date of when the term was first used it has become the standard term for video slots in Australia. Advertising for casinos and pubs always calls the games pokies.
It appears to have come from the fact that there was a time when video poker machines or "Cardies" were in pubs and clubs as well as the slots - they were all called poker machines.
This like most slang was broken down to pokies probably due to people saying things such as "I'm off to the pub to play the pokies". Interestingly enough the term appears to have only caught on in Australia as the rest of the world still likes to call them slots or slot machines.