Charles Fey: Inventor of the Slot Machine

Many online slots players are aware of the name of Charles Fey, renowned as the inventor of the slot machine. But few people know any of the details of the life of this fascinating man who had such an impact on slot machine history.

The Early Years

Charles Fey was born in 1862 in the village of Vohringen in Bavaria, which was then an independent country and is now a part of Germany. The youngest of 16 children, his original birth name was actually August Fey.

When Fey was 14 years old he went to work during a school vacation at a factory that manufactured farm tools in nearby Munich. It proved to be a fateful summer for August Fey and, eventually, for slots history, for it was then that August Fey discovered his love for all manner of machines and mechanical devices.

By the following year, Fey had decided to leave home at the young age of 15. His reasons were several-fold. One was to escape from his father’s strict discipline. Another was to avoid conscription into the German army. Finally, there was the example of his uncle, who had previously moved to New Jersey, USA.

Fey was poor, and passage to America was expensive, so he was compelled to make the journey in stages. First stop was France, where he arrived at the age of 15 and found work with a manufacturer of intercom equipment. After saving some money, he moved onward to England, where he lived for five years while working for a manufacturer of nautical instruments.

The Americanisation of Charles Fey

Fey finally arrived in America and lived for a short time with his uncle’s family in New Jersey. But then the uncle and his family returned to Germany and Fey, having no remaining ties to the east coast, moved on to California.

Fey arrived in San Francisco in 1885 and found employment with the California Electric Works company. He married Marie Volkmar, with whom he had three daughters and a son. In 1889, he changed his name to what he considered a more American-sounding name: Charles August Fey. It was as Charles Fey that his name was immortalized in slots history.

The Invention of the Slot Machine

In 1895, Fey built the Liberty Bell, the world’s first slot machine. The machine was placed in a San Francisco saloon and proved so popular that Fey decided to concentrate full time on designing and manufacturing slot machines. He quit his job, and formed his own company called Charles Fey and Company. Many of Fey’s early slot machines featured pictures of lemons, oranges, and cherries, and thus became known as fruit machines, a name that is still widely used in the UK.

Fey remained active in the company, continually creating new and more advanced slot machines, until he retired in 1944 at the age of 82. He died of pneumonia 10 months later.

If You Win at Slots

The rest, as they say, is history. Fey’s mechanical slot machine gradually evolved into today’s online slot machine, and millions of people around the world now enjoy playing slot machines online. The next time you play online slots, take just a moment to think about Charles Fey and his enormous contributions to the history of the slot machine. And if you are fortunate enough to win at slots, be sure to thank Charles Fey for the part he played in enabling you to win your slots jackpot. Charles August Fey is the man who made it all possible.

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