Coin-op collectors are not like most people. Lugging around huge and heavy machines into our homes would not be considered grounds for excitement to most.
Since we are in the minority, we do not have access products made especially for us on a constant basis.
But when such items are released into the marketplace, it is cause for celebration.
With that in mind I would like to celebrate a new book.
It is More Automatic Pleasures – The Slot Machine Revolution by Nic Costa.
This book is a giant slice of slot machine heaven. Nearly 200 pages of content about the rise and fall of the slot machine and automatics industry.
More Automatic Pleasures is a compilation of articles written by Nic Costa that had previously been featured in various ‘zines’ from back in the day.
These publications are no longer readily available, thus this book provides something uniquely new.
Nicely printed and with hundreds of images — there is a lot to take in here.
What is interesting and unusual about this book, compared with past slot-focused books, is that it is not 100% American focused. Costa also looks at the past through a European viewpoint. There are companies and industry leaders documented here that I had never heard of before.
Of course the Chicago companies we remember fondly are all documented in detail as well.
While slot machines take center stage, Costa also writes about a wide variety of interesting automated machines.
Pinball is a favorite of mine and Costa writes about famous pinball manufacturers Gottlieb, Williams and Genco.
He also details how Wurlitzer, Seeburg, and Rock-Ola got started in the jukebox business.
Some of the stories that stuck with me were:
- The Automatic Refreshment Supply Company and their coin-operated beer-machine.
- Al Capone, organized crime, and their involvement with slot machines.
- The evolution of slot machine design.
- The toy tycoon and his unusual collection, including a nearly seven-foot tall 270-pound fortune teller.
- King Edward VII and the Mills Automatic Violin Machine exhibition.
- The automatics pioneer from Detroit you may have never heard much about (at least I had not).
- How the Johnson Act forced the king of the industry to declare bankruptcy and liquidate its factory and assets.
- The genus of the Mutoscope coin-operated movie machine.
- Learn about the interesting devices from the Rock-Ola company, before they started manufacturing jukeboxes.
- The slot machine company owner who handed out free pennies to poor neighborhood children every Friday outside his warehouse.
- Details on the interesting, rare, and bizarre automated devices featured today in museums and collections. The Chinese Torture Machine? What???
Obviously there is a ton of information about the history and evolution of slot machines — as that is the focus. But there is something here for any fan of coin-operated or automatic machines.
When you can get articles created over a huge span of years, covering decades of history, all wrapped up into one package — it is a winner in my view.
Kudos to Nic Costa and his publisher on this fine addition to my coin-op library. Check out the book on Amazon.
One last thing that wasn’t really covered in this book is the evolution of slots playing and the migration of players from bricks and mortar slot machines to the online gaming world, where players can often choose from a bigger range of slots with more aggressive jackpots. Technically there isn’t much of a difference between the gameplay of a physical slot machine and an online one, although one area of difference are the bonus rounds available on the video slots games, this online slots guide by CasinoReef has some interesting playing tips for new online players.