The world of slots is one which has always moved hand in hand with the prevalent technology of the era. The very first slot machines as we know them were created in the 1890s and featured playing cards rather than symbols attached to five spinning drums. The drums were operated by pulling a lever, and if players managed to line up something that would represent a winning hand in a game of poker, then they would be entitled to a prize.
The technology of the time wasn’t advanced enough to facilitate a cash payout, even though players had to insert coins in order to play. Instead, winners would be entitled to a prize such as a beer at the bar or a cigar.
For many decades, the advances made on this fairly primitive slot machine were only minimal. The playing card symbols were gradually replaced with the traditional favourites such as fruit, bells, and the lucky seven, and the reels were reduced from five to three, making it easier to devise an automatic pay-out system enabling cash prizes.
As video technology emerged in the 1970s, so it was soon used to create the world’s first video slot machine, using a modified 19-inch Sony TV receiver, in 1976. This was a key moment in the development of online slots as we know them.
It marked the switch from mechanical reels physically moving to an electronic representation of those reels. The fact that innovations such as this first emerged in Las Vegas is indicative of how the varied gambling laws of different US states have helped to concentrate the expertise and commercial drive needed to push innovation forward.
The online slots of today, with five or seven reels, multiple pay lines, second screens, bonus levels, and 3D animation, all sprung from the breakthrough of the first video slot launched in the Las Vegas Hilton Hotel. But the technology which makes them possible is hugely more complex than that utilised back then.
It’s likely that few players chasing a big jackpot on a progressive slot or simply whiling away a few minutes of a boring train journey by spinning the reels of the latest free games they feel like trying out spend too much time worrying about the technology involved. But without this technology, the dazzling online slots of today simply wouldn’t be possible.
The coding required to create the imagery employed by modern online slots is hugely complex and often on a par with that employed by the most up-to-date video games. Even more important than this software, however, is the software which ensures that every online slot operating in a licenced casino is genuinely fair and offers a measurable chance of winning. The software in question is known as a Random Number Generator, and it ensures that there is no way of predicting what the result of each spin of the reels will be.
The RNG is programmed to create long sequences of random numbers several times every second. These numbers are created by taking the ‘seed number’ which the RNG is originally programmed with and then using an algorithm to perform mathematical functions on the number, thus creating a new number.
This process repeats itself over and over again whether the machine is being played or not and when the machine does get played, the last number produced is used as a code to trigger where the individual reels settle. Anyone with any ideas of trying to ‘crack’ the code of an RNG should consider the fact that the random numbers in question are often more than 200,000 digits long.
The fact that the RNG software decides each spin means that each is a unique event, something which dispels, once and for all, the abiding myth about slots being ‘due’ a win because they haven’t delivered one for a period of time. The RNG software doesn’t know or care how ‘hot’ or ‘cold’ a particular slot is meant to be.
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Animation and Design
The animation and design of slots used be something of an afterthought, but as online slots have shifted further into the realm of games and entertainment – whether via film and TV tie-ins or by introducing the kind of visual flourishes more normally associated with leading video games – the software used to drive those visuals has had to become more powerful.
Perhaps the most impressive feature of the technology utilised by today’s developers and providers is the responsive nature of the offering. Put simply, it’s possible to play the same slots on a laptop, desktop computer, tablet, and smartphone and enjoy the same stunning visuals and interactive features every time.
Top online slots now make use of omni-channel technology to provide players with a seamless experience. As stated above, slots can now be enjoyed on a range of devices, and the omnichannel nature of the offering means that players enjoy a seamless experience when switching from one device to another.
For example, a player may enjoy a progressive slot on the bus while travelling home from work and then have to stop because the battery is running low. When they sit down at their laptop, the omnichannel nature of the offering means that they can pick up exactly where they left off.
One of the issues which sometimes make players hesitate before taking the plunge and spending their money on slots at an online casino is security. Given that playing often involves giving your card or bank details to a casino, some people fear for the safety and security of their data, but the truth is that technology can provide the answer here as well.
In the first instance, many online casinos accept deposits using methods such as e-wallets, and an increasing number are now accepting the much more anonymous cryptocurrency payment methods. In addition to this, leading casinos use the latest 256/128 bit Secure Socket Layer (SSL) encryption technology to ensure that players’ details are safe from hackers and data breaches.
The major players in the world of online slot technology include Real Time Gaming (RTG), Novomatic, NETent, IGT, and Microgaming. Almost all modern developers take advantage of recent advances in broadband and wireless technology to offer their very best slots in streaming rather than download mode, which offers optimum ease of gameplay and convenience without sacrificing anything in terms of quality.
The technology which is delivering online slots to players today is the same kind of cutting-edge technology used to create the best video games, the most dynamic websites, and the kind of stunning visuals delivered in modern cinema animations. The commitment to working with the latest and the best extends as far as embracing the newest technology as it emerges, offering online slots which take advantage of the emerging possibilities of augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR).