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Slot Machines: America's Favorite Gaming Device
by Marshall Fey
The complete and colorful story of coin-operated chance machines from the time they first became prevalent in the early 1890's up to the slot machines operated in today's casinos. Included in the exciting drama of this major industry are the pioneer, inventors, manufacturers, operators and the numerous raids that plagued the industry. This book has been used as a source book worldwide, including television documentaries.Read a review of Slot Machines: America's Favorite Gaming Device
Liberty Belle Bookstore
Charlie Fey was the father of the slot machine and the draw poker machine. You can take a tour of his creation or buy the book that chronicles the development of slots at the Liberty Belle Bookstore.
Charles August Fey (1862 – 1944) was born in the small village Vohringen, Bavaria. The youngest of sixteen children, he left home at the age of 15. After living in London for five years, he left for America and arrived in San Francisco in 1885. Fey married Marie Volkmar, a native Californian, with whom he had three daughters and a son. By 1889, he changed his name from August Fey to Charles August Fey.
Influenced by the abundance of nickel-in-the-slot machines in San Francisco, Fey built his first machine in 1894. In 1895, Fey moved to Berkeley, where he built his second slot machine in the basement of his home. This machine, called the 4-11-44, became so popular that Fey devoted his full time to designing and manufacturing slot machines.
Within a few years after starting his own firm, Fey had created slot machines that would influence the future of all slot manufacturing. By 1899, he had developed the Liberty Bell, the first three-reel slot. He also perfected Draw Poker, the forerunner of video poker.
Fey's business flourished until 1909 when San Francisco outlawed the use of slots. In 1911, California prohibited slot machines in the state, prompting Fey to close his San Francisco office. Fey didn't devote much time to slot machines until the “Roaring Twenties”, Prohibition and speakeasys ushered in a new era for gambling. Fey continued to innovate and remained with his company until 1944, when he retired. Ten months after retiring, he succumbed to pneumonia.
Considered the “Thomas Edison of Slot Machines,” Charlie Fey made many significant contributions to the development of the world's favorite casino game.
About this article
A full description of Charlie Fey's life and times can be found in Slot Machines: an Illustrated History of America's Most Popular Coin-Operated Gaming Device.
The book was written by Marshall Fey, the grandson of the illustrious inventor. You can order this book directly from the Liberty Belle Bookshop
. You can also take a quick video tour
of the Liberty Belle slot collection with Marshall Fey.