WMS (William Interactive)
WMS have been an integral cog in the history of electronic gaming throughout the 20th Century. Experienced players may know classic titles like Montezuma and Raging Rhino are WMS slots. However, you probably won’t know that the company was first founded in 1943 in Chicago, IL by a man called (unsurprisingly) Harry Williams.
WMS: An eGaming History
Harry Williams founded Williams Electronics during the Second World War. Though the manufacturing and importing costs during the war made production virtually impossible, Williams in that time, invented the tilt feature on a pinball table. Once the war ended, Williams was able to put his first gaming devices into production including pinball and fortune telling machines. The first pinball machines that Williams released was named “Suspense” in 1946.
In the following decades, Williams continued to design and manufacture electronic games machines. The production of pinball machines was their modus operandi, and they continued to innovate the form, creating the two inverse bottom flippers that still remain part of the pinball experience today. They also created machines based on sports, such as a baseball game.
In the 1970s, Williams branched out into the burgeoning video games market. Noting the success of Atari’s iconic Pong game, Williams followed that same year with a version of their own. This was their first step into the coin operated arcade game market, and the company also began to design electronic, arcade versions of pinball.
Despite a turbulent gaming industry in the eighties, Williams continued to expand under the umbrella of WMS (which was, of course, short for Williams).
WMS and Video Slot Machines
In 1991, WMS created a new division called WMS Gaming which began to develop video lottery terminals (VLTs or Pokies). This would set the groundwork for the company’s direction moving forward. Despite releasing a pinball machine in 1992 based on the Addams Family Movie, which would go on to be the biggest selling pinball machine of all time, the demand for such devices dwindled throughout the 90s.
So, their attention turned to slot machines, their first being “Reel ‘em In,” released in 1996. As terrestrial casinos on Native American reservations increased in number, WMS went from strength to strength in their new specialty.
In 2012, WMS formed the subsidiary Williams Interactive to focus on their online gaming development. This would allow WMS to emphasise and streamline their real-money and freemium offerings on desktop, tablet and smartphone in the mobile first era.
Orrin Edidin, who became President and CEO of Williams Interactive at the time, said that the restructure would allow the creation of a “single organization to unify the company’s efforts in online wagering and interactive gaming distribution channels, while drawing upon our extensive existing library of great gaming content.”
In 2016, WMS was reorganised again and fully incorporated into Scientific Games. The WMS brand sits with other gaming legends Bally Technologies, and Barcrest as members of the Scientific Games family.