We’ve Got a 70-Year-Old Mechanical Slot Machine!

Ever wish you could go back in time and experience what it is like to spin the reels of an old school one-armed bandit? Well, we did, and without sounding to braggy, we’re just about to spin one!

No, we don’t have a time-traveling device, yet, but you could argue that we got our hands on something even better, a piece of gaming history – a 1950’s mechanical slot machine in (almost) working order! 

Fear not, you won’t be missing out! We will share every little detail and fun fact, you will basically feel like you’re there with us.

Anyhow, from the far corners of central Europe, where ajvar meets chevapchichi, and red and white checkerboards are your go-to tablecloth for a soccer TV game-night with Modrić, Rakitić, Mandžukić and all those other Itches (yes, we are talking about Croatia), joining our collection of old slot machines is the one and only, drum-roll – Beromat ‘B’ slot machine!

We renamed it to Beromatić though, our legal department will probably hunt us down, but hey.

We don’t have two, this is just Photoshop magic, we have a cool design team!

No electricity needed, just muscles!

Yes, it is a true honour to be able to get our paws on such a timeless piece of art, but we must admit it was not easy carrying it across town as it weighs over 60 pounds. That is with all the coins pulled out of it (yeah, we were not that fortunate). As soon as we opened it up and took a better look at it we knew that we have truly landed a gem.

A simple looking mechanical assembly dominates a relatively empty inner space (you will see later why that is), without any electronic boards or electrical plugs needed for the chance to win a jackpot. Yes, you’ve read that right – no electrical plug!

The first electro-mechanical slot machines actually came long after this one, in 1964, and something that seems nearly impossible to live without today, is something that was the norm in the 50s.

If it doesn’t need juice, how did it work then?

The Beromat ‘B’ starter pack consisted of four primary components: a coin, lever, reels, and an arm to pull it with Rudolf-like red nosed end, which would then trigger a conditioned sequence based on the configuration of the mechanical parts in it. Of course, it goes much further than that in terms of the exact technics behind it, we will get deeper into it during our restoration part of the project, but essentially, that is all you needed to get the three reels spinning and payout flowing.

Obviously, the “right of passage” in this spiel comes with you having a coin (back then it was one Deutsche Mark, DM), which you then drop into the belly of the beast using a coin insert found at the top, pull the handle, and… well, let it do its magic.

The original Beromat had only fruits as symbols, while the Beromat B has numbers.

If you managed to line up two or three red lines over numbers on reels, the machine would reward you with its hidden treasures of a maximum of 10 coins. This is the reason why the inner mechanism holds two cylinder-like shapes, one was for collecting and releasing the winnings to the player, while other was redirecting the coins and keeping it within the machine itself as a provider’s “markup”.

This was probably the reason why Beromat was so robust and heavy to withstand everything, because once it would fill up with coins (and there is pleeeeenty of room for them in there), it would get “do you even lift, bro” heavy.

But, who made it? Well, we tracked down the original creator, Gunter Wulff!

Gunter Wulff’s mechanical approach to slot machines

Interestingly enough, back in 1950 Gunter Wulff was the only slot machine producer to introduce a “series” of machines. The line consisted of the original Beromat, and its successor, Beromat ‘B’, and while they were both similar in the design, there was one thing that differentiated the two- symbols! The original Beromat was the first and only slot machine at the time that consisted of fruit symbols, whereas Beromat ‘B’, the machine that is in front of us right now, was redesigned to consist of only numbers.

Gunter Wulff (right) and Harro Koebke (left) Source: ballywulff.de

Despite Wulff’s success throughout the years, the Beromat series was one of his lesser sold models, but our choice of going with the Beromat ‘B’ ended up being more unique as it was part of a rare series, one that comes coated in aquamarine waterway texture and has gold metal trim pieces as highlights.

The “Beromat” logo stayed in place with the coin slot in the high center, however, the two bells from the original Beromat were replaced with two “B” icons.

To be honest, we thought that the regular Beromat was a bit boring in looks, even though it reminds us of maple tree with its dark brown casing, and although our heartis always aching for some of that syrupy goodness, we still went for Aquaman’s interpretation.

While there were only a little more than 10,000 units of Beromat slot machines circling through various casinos, cafes, restaurants, and homes around Europe at the time, the Beromat still managed to find a home with us at Betsafe Canada. 

What was the spark that started it all?

After spending some time in the chemical/technical industry back in 1949, the founder and creator of Wulff Apparatebau GmbH, Gunter Wulff, decided it was time to part ways with lighter ampules and venture off into a business that would in the end reshape his future, you guessed it — slot machines. Who would have thought, from fire to rotating quire?

After reeling in so many years of success, in 1972, Gunter went on to accept an offer from his friend and then partner, Harro Koebke, to expand the business even further. That same partnership launched his extended success in America and formed what we now know today as Bally Wulff Entertainment & Games GmbH. 

We’re looking to get deeper into the backstory of the Beromat by talking with some of the creative minds over at Bally Wulff in a separate interview to follow. Maybe they’ll even let us check out their collection of old-timers (we promise to be gentle, unlike that Jimmi guy).

So, where was this particular machine used?

Speaking of homes, we were able to find out where was our particular sample of slot machine displayed and presumably “rented” to players, down to a city, street name and number, as every machine was meticulously labelled with this information.

The man in charge of it was Mr. Batić, and its former place of business can be found in the city of Klagenfurt (Austria), on Villacher Ring 33 street, which is basically on the outer edge of the old downtown area, across the big Schiller park.

Another person’s name was also attached to the second label, that being Mr. Keutschacher, who was in charge of the servicing and repairs, and you could find him even deeper in the walls of the old town, on Theatergasse 9 street.

Some Jimmi guy also try to put his claim on this slot machine with something pointy and sharp, making a mark on this 70-year old wood, which is, yeah, a bit rude of him, but nothing that a little bit of care cannot mend.

Although Wulff expected a more favourable outcome with the Beromat series, it is safe to say that we can now see the fortune in what seemed to be a misfortune. Due to the limited number of units available on the market, the Beromat nowadays is a rare sight to see, making this trip down memory lane that more interesting!

Boop the nose!

What’s the plan you ask? To refurbish it of course!

Regardless if it’s at our office or inside our online casino, we take good care of our slots! So we can’t leave this poor gal in such a condition… Right? Because of that our last stop was at PagodaClassics, a famous Croatian car restoration company, and they have taken on the initiative of restoring this ol’ beauty.

Considering its age, by the look of our machine, it seems to be in relatively good condition, but as they told us, the outer condition of such machines can be deceiving. Nevertheless, some refurbishing will have it feeling like it just left the factory. 

From what we can see so far, our main task for this restoration is to refurbish or replace the metal details, some of them are missing, bring life to the aquamarine colour, repaint it, re-dress the reels with new stickers, and very likely also build it a new home using a special type of wood as a big part of it is scuffed away. And Jimmi, we have to get rid of Jimmy, can’t have him there now can we.

Looks a bit rough on the edges, but it’s still the good ol’ Beromat B!

We will also procure all the necessary bits and pieces that are needed to get the gears turning once again, together we’ll dive into the mechanics of it all, but first we need to determine the exact state of it. We wouldn’t be surprised if everything is in somewhat good condition in that regard, but we’re still eager to have a more detailed chat with the team to get all the in’s and out’s from the engineering point of view.

Needless to say, now that it’s done hibernating, we’ll try our best to keep the old soul of our Beromat slot machine. ‘B’ that as it may, considering that it is currently out of order, we will make it our mission to show you the star it was in the prime of its life and find it a permanent home here at Betsafe. Maybe even take it for a spin or two (wink, wink)!

Stay tuned, its transformation is just around the corner!

Oh right, before we forget – about that Jimmi fellow, here’s his signature: