Charles Fey was born in 1862 in Vohringen (Bavaria) Germany and was one of twenty-one children. He left his home at the age of 14 and worked in various manufacturing jobs across Europe. He moved to the United States in 1885 and settled in San Francisco.
Once in San Francisco Charles continued his career in the manufacturing sector finding a job with California Electric Works as an instrument maker. With the proliferation of coin operated gaming devices in San Francisco, he decided to setup his own manufacturing plant designed to produce gaming devices in 1896. His company was called Charles Fey & Company.
Charles and his company produced several coin operated gaming devices that were popular during this time, but it was a certain game that sparked an entire industry. In 1898 Charles was credited with developing the gaming industry’s first modern day “slot machine” called the Liberty Bell. Prior to the Liberty Bell most gaming devices were wheel-based machines or card-based machines. It was the first gaming machine where the outcome of the game was displayed on three spinning reel strips. The games proved to be immensely popular and spread across the country with competitors also producing similar games.
After a long and successful career, Charles Fey retired in 1943 and passed away of pneumonia in 1944.
Congratulations to Buddy Frank, Dennis Mead and the late Charles Fey as inductees into The EKG Slot Awards Hall of Fame – Class of 2023. Thank you for your contributions to the gaming industry.