Fruit machines through the ages

The first fruit machines were slot machines, but the first slot machines were not fruit machines.

That’s because the term ‘slot machine’ originally applied to all coin-op machines, including vending machines and automatic horse racing machines similar to those still found in amusement arcades to this day.

Starting from the 1880s, if you won on one of these horse racing machines, you might receive a prize in the form of cigars or drinks – yes, pub slot machines have existed since the very first days of coin-op gaming machines!

Interestingly, these machines led to a commonly used saying for games that almost (but not quite) landed on a prize – “close, but no cigar”.

 

One-armed bandits and fruit machines

Towards the end of the 1880s, coin-op machines started to pay cash prizes. These included ‘tip the balance’ machines similar to modern-day coin dozer/push-off machines, and ‘wheel of fortune’ style games.

By the mid-1890s, American inventor Charles Fey had created the first slot machines similar to the pub fruit machines you see today.

Fey’s second slot machine to enter mass production was 4-11-44, a one-armed bandit based around the three winning numbers in the lottery game Policy.

Soon after, he created Liberty Bell, and the benchmark was set for modern slot machines. The reels still did not feature fruits, but the combination of playing card suit symbols, plus lucky horseshoes and bells was a big step towards the fruits we know and love today.

 

20th century fruit machines

Fey’s factory – and almost all the first-generation Liberty Bell machines – were destroyed in the 1906 San Francisco earthquake.

This disaster may be partly responsible for the rise of 20th century fruit machines. In 1910, a partnership between Fey and the Mills Novelty Company produced Operator Bell, a new version of Liberty Bell with – at last – fruits used as the symbols on the reels.

During the decades that followed, these Mills-produced fruit machines evolved to use wooden cabinets that were much lighter than the original cast iron, and much quieter mechanisms.

 

Modern pub fruit machines

The past 50 years have seen pub fruit machines evolve yet again, with the introduction of secondary feature boards and much more complex gameplay and gamble options.

In the 21st century, touchscreen fruit machines have become more commonplace, with pub quiz machines adding to the gameplay options for patrons too.

The choice is wider than ever – and with new games, features and rules being introduced all the time, who knows where fruit machines will go next??

Putting pub pool tables outside for summer

Putting pub pool tables outside for summer

We’re often asked about putting pub pool tables outside for summer, and despite the notoriously unpredictable British weather, the answer is yes, you can.

However, there is, of course, some care and attention needed to make sure you don’t end up with flooded felt or boggy baize following a seasonal downpour.

The Manco Automatics team have got you covered – and your outdoor pub pool table should be covered too, just in case!

 

Outdoor locations for pub pool tables

Most of the rules of outdoor locations for pub pool tables are the same as for indoor pool tables, including:

  • Relatively flat, level, stable ground.
  • Adequate cue clearance on all sides.
  • Not blocking emergency routes or creating a hazard.

If the basics are all accounted for, then there’s usually no reason why you can’t put a pool table outside in a beer garden or on a terrace.

And by doing so, you can also free up the equivalent space inside, which is ideal if you plan to screen major sporting events this summer or just want the floor space for tables.

 

Extra considerations for outdoor pool tables

You may have seen outdoor pool tables at pubs and bars in Mediterranean holiday resorts, but it’s important to realise that the UK is unfortunately not a Mediterranean country.

Our climate means it is very likely, if not inevitable, that the summer months will see heavy rain – and our clients in Greater Manchester will know that more than most!

Because of this, you need to take some precautions if you want to put pub pool tables in the beer garden or elsewhere outside.

A suitable shelter or canopy is essential. Ideally, it should provide a permanent cover to protect the table surface against rainfall, allowing for the fact that rain can blow in at an angle in squally weather.

For security reasons, coin-operated pool tables should ideally be in an enclosed area such as a fenced-in beer garden and/or supervised directly from the bar or via CCTV.

 

Need help with an outdoor pool table?

We’re happy to help you decide if an outdoor pub pool table is a sensible decision for your premises and to troubleshoot any additional preparations you should make before installation.

Our team can deliver and install an outdoor pool table or if you already have one of our pub pool tables indoors, we can come and professionally relocate it to your beer garden.

To find out more, contact your Manco representative today and we’ll get the cue ball rolling.

Manco Automatics Ltd
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