Charlie Fey

Charles August Fey (1862 - 1944)

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Charles August (Charlie) Fey
Born in Bavaria, Germanymap
[sibling(s) unknown]
Husband of — married [date unknown] [location unknown]
Died in San Francisco, Californiamap
Profile last modified | Created 7 Mar 2009
This page has been accessed 3,479 times.


Charles A. Fey leave his native Bavaria about 1878 for America. He had mechanic skills. He settled in San Francisco, Calif. He even changed his given names around from 'August Charles' to 'Charles A.', and known as Charlie.

Charles Fey married Marie C. Valkmer (born 1867 in Calif.) in 1889 and they had four children; three daughters (Elsie born 1892, Alma born 1890, Marie born 1894) and a son Edmund Charles Fey (born Feb.28,1896).

Charles is referred to as the "Father of the Slot Machine". He developed the slot machine in April 15, 1887 where he performed demonstrations of his bell machine in a saloon in San Francisco, California. Charles was a mechanic. He had his machine perfected by 1898.

Fey pioneered many innovations of coin operated gaming devices, including the original three reel, bell slot machine by 1898. Three old-style reels holding 20 symbols have evolved into microprocessor-controlled devices with up to five spinning reels holding hundreds of symbols.

Before the slot machine there were poker machines that allowed a player to win a cigar or free drinks when they lined up a winning combination, called “trade stimulator”. Fey’s slot machine paid out in coins, real money. His machine became known as the "Bell Machine" because of the three bells lining up making the person a winner. There was also the "Liberty Machine" in honor of America's Liberty Bell.

He didn't sell the machines. Instead Charles placed them in saloons, etc and then received 50% of all the revenue.

By 1907, Fey joined Herbert Mills who owned the Mills Novelty company. They developed the "Operators Bell" machine, and the Mills company manufactured 30,000 of these machines.

Around 1919, Charles joined with his son, Edmund, to form Charles Fey & Son Company. They family lived on Broadrick St. in San Francisco, Calif. Charles died in 1944 in San Francisco, Calif.


  • California, San Francisco, World War I Enemy Alien Registration Affidavits, 1918," database with images, FamilySearch ( : 27 December 2014), Charles August Fey, 1918; citing San Francisco, San Francisco, California, United States, San Francisco Public Library, History and Archives; FamilySearch digital folder 004879598.

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No known carriers of Charlie's Y-chromosome or his mother's mitochondrial DNA have taken yDNA or mtDNA tests and no close relatives have taken a 23andMe, AncestryDNA, or Family Tree DNA "Family Finder" test.

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Images: 2
Liberty Bell Slot Machine
Liberty Bell Slot Machine

Charles August Fey
Charles August Fey


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