The Early Years
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 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
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.