Blaise of Glory with the Roulette Wheel

Daily Mail (London), October 10, 2015 | Go to article overview

Blaise of Glory with the Roulette Wheel


QUESTION What are the origins of the roulette wheel? THE invention of the mechanism is usually credited to French scientific prodigy Blaise Pascal (1623-1662).

In 1642, when he was just 18, Pascal invented the first mechanical calculator to help his father, a tax collector.

Pascal also invented the syringe and the hydraulic press.

Another of his projects was the search for a perpetual motion machine, and the original rotating wheel device (1655) is thought to have been a byproduct of these experiments. Whether Pascal's device contained a numbering system is not known.

The earliest mention of a roulette-style game is from 1730 in a letter from the Countess of Suffolk: 'The Duchess of Marlborough takes to losing her money at roly-poly'.

There are no details of the game.

An English legal document of 1745 has the earliest mention of the word, stating: 'And whereas a certain pernicious game called Roulet or Roly-Poly is daily practised' ... 'no place shall be kept for the playing of the said game of Roulet or Roly-poly ...' Roulette in French means 'small wheel' which points back to a French origin of the game.

In the mid-18th century, another game emerged called Even-Odd, a wheel and ball game with 20 sections marked E for Even and 20 O for Odd. It appears that roulette left France in the early 1700s and was initially known as roly-poly.

After it was banned in 1745, the similar game of even-odd may have been used to get around the law, but roulette reemerged in the mid-19th century as the pre-eminent game. …

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