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Coin Machine Pioneer
Gustav F. W. Schultze

Prussian born Gustav F. W. Schultze (1845-1924) migrated in the late 1880’s to San Francisco where he began inventing and manufacturing coin-operated machines. In 1892 he built and patented his first chance slot which incorporated a strength tester. This Trade Stimulator was the first known color wheel machine.

The original check paying counter wheel slot, dubbed the LUCK MACHINE, was patented June 20, 1893 by another Dan Franciscan, James Lighthipe, an engineer for Edison General Electric. Schultze built a similar slot, called HORSESHOES, which he patented several months later. He was issued two more patents on two more similar slots which included innovations used on slots for years to come. They included a Single Slide Payout, the Timing Clock, and the Jackpot Bell.

Unfortunately after losing an infringement suit which ended an attempted monopoly of the wheel machines, combined with the intense competition from the large eastern slot manufacturers, Schultze gave up his factory and joined Charles Fey & Co. during 1898.

Five years later he left Fey to continue alone and to operate his own slot machines while specializing in weighing scales as the Schultze Scale Company.

Schultze, one of the earliest coin machine pioneers, started late in life, receiving his first patent at age 44 and the last of twelve when 74 years old. He died five years later in Oakland, California leaving a profound impact on the development of early slots. Schultze’s automatic paying counter wheel led to popular imitations of his devices which evolved into the highly successful floor machines – the OWL, DEWEY, PUCK and CENTAUR.

Some of the other Schultze’s inventions are listed below:


For one coin the player could test his strength by stretching apart the two levers at the base of the cabinet and try his luck on the spin of the arrow by pulling down the handle on the right side of the case. This Trade Stimulator was the first patented wheel machine. All wins were hand paid by an attendant.


Schultze first patented the cance feature on a scale in 1902. If the player guessed his correct weight the coin would be returned to the money cup below.


Diversifying his skills, Gustav Schultze patented a cash register attachment which would audibly announce each sale. Schultz utilized two sets of Edison phonograph cylinder records, horns and other parts, so that the succession the dollar sale first, followed by the cents. Various sale amounts were prerecorded at designated positions on the record which were automatically selected to correspond with the cash register keys. Charlie Fey also entered the audio field, spending a long time to develop a method of automatically changing the short life needles used on pre-1920 phonographs. His invention was immediately obsolete when long-lasting needles were introduced simultaneously.


Patterned after the Fey TRIPLE ROLL, the 1911 Schultze 6-way ROULETTE featured six compartments designated by dice symbols. After the lever on the right was pressed, the table spun, scattering ten balls. The payout was determined by dice symbols. After the lever on the right was pressed, the table spun, scattering ten balls. The payout was determined by how many of the balls came to rest in the compartments played.

Copyright: 2012 Ken Durham





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Ken Durham
3000 Galloway Ridge, C-306
Pittsboro NC 27312
For Orders Only: 202-213-1585
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