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What Is a Slot?

A slot is a narrow opening or slit, especially one for receiving something, such as a coin or letter. Slots are commonly found in doors and windows, but can also be located on other surfaces such as a table or wall. The word is derived from the Latin sclavus, meaning “fellow” or “adjoint.”

The term may also refer to an airport slot, which gives an airline permission to land or take off at a certain time. Airlines compete for slots to ensure they have adequate capacity at key times during the day. In the case of airports that are overcrowded, a slot can make all the difference in getting to your destination on time.

In computing, a slot is an expansion socket on a motherboard that accepts PCI cards and sometimes AGP cards. There are many different types of slots, and they are often named for the manufacturer or type of card they accept (e.g., AGP, ISA, or PCI). Some slots are shared among multiple cards, while others are dedicated to a single function. For example, a video card might be installed in an ISA slot while a network card would go into a PCI slot.

A casino’s slot machines are arranged in a series of rooms or’salons’, usually by denomination, style, and brand. Some higher-limit slot games are kept in separate rooms, with attendants to help players. Many slots have a ‘candle’ or ‘tower light’ on the top that flashes in a variety of patterns to indicate what kind of machine it is, such as service needed, jackpot, door not secure, and more.

Hirsch’s papers reveal that in the early days of Las Vegas casinos, he and other operators viewed slots as a distraction from their main business — table games. UNLV’s oral history project includes interviews with Hirsch and another gaming pioneer, William “Si” Redd, who led the transition from table games to slots as the industry’s biggest source of revenue.

In a Web site context, a slot is a dynamic placeholder that either waits for content to be added to it (a passive slot) or calls out for it (an active slot). Slots are configured by using a scenario and then specified by a renderer for how the contents should appear on the page. Slots are a core element of dynamic Web sites, along with scenarios and targeters.