How can modern slots offer life changing Jackpots? You’ll understand once you know the "Reel Story."
There was a time when the size of a jackpot was limited to the combinations formed by the number of reels and the numbers symbols on each of the reels. In 1897 Charles Fey invented the first mechanical slot machine.
His slot machine had three reels and each reel had ten symbols on it. The symbols were horseshoes, spades, diamond, hearts and bells. Lining up three bells was the top prize giving the player the jackpot. This machine would come to be known as a bell machine. Since the machine had three reels with ten symbols on each there were 1,000 combinations that could be made. 10x10x10= 1,000. The total payout for all winning combinations was 750 coins. This gave the "House" a 25 percent profit. It is interesting to note that the pay table listed Drinks as the prizes, when in reality the machine actually paid out coins.
As slots evolved they added to the number of symbols on each reel and 20 became a standard giving a three reel machine 8,000 possible combinations. (20x20x20). By 1970 the number was increased to 22 which became about the maximum number that could be physically put on a reel. The maximum combination was 10,648 which was still not a lot for a big jackpot if the machine was to offer smaller wins. The slot makers had the choice of adding more reels or finding a way to put more symbols on each reel. Slot makers tried adding a fourth and fifth reel but these machines never really caught on with the players. That left finding a way for more symbols on each reel.