totalisator history totalizator history totalisator history

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An Australian Achievement

"We need to be aware of our engineering heroes ..." - Professor Trevor Cole - Sydney University
"One can hardly believe that such a man could go almost unnoticed and unrecognised" Professor Martyn Webb UWA

Image of an electro mechanical shaft adder circa 1926 See The shaft adder in the image chapter

Index
Firstly
handimageIntroduction handimageAutomatic Totalisators Limited - later ATL
handimageSir George Julius handimageInstallations / Testimonials - The Premier Totalisator
handimageThe shaft adder in the image handimageThe Premier Tote Operation 1930 + Neville's talk
handimageMechanical Aids to Calculation handimageThe Julius Premier Totemobile
handimageATL The Brisbane Project handimageMemories of a system long gone (computer)
handimageComputer Tote Maintenance (technical)
Secondly
handimageIntroduction to secondly handimageTote Topics
handimageMemories of the factory handimageMemories of the factory continued
handimageAutomatic Totalisators in America handimagePhoto Gallery + Synchronicity
handimagePhoto Gallery continued
Finally
handimageThe end of an era - Harringay handimagePool definitions from ATL diary
handimageThe Melbourne Cup handimageVideo clips of a working Julius tote
handimageCaracas, a latterday Julius tote installation handimageKota Kinabalu a computer tote installation
Posthumously
handimageEagle Farm Racecourse Museum handimageGeorge Julius Genealogy and other latterday interest
handimage3 more ATL systems in Asia / Links to other pages




Doron Swade writes in his New Scientist magazine article dated 29 October 1987 titled A sure bet for understanding computers with reference to the London Science Museum The Julius totalisator with its automatic odds machine is the earliest on-line, real-time, data processing and computation system that the curators at the Science Museum have identified so far.




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Copyright © 1997 - 2014
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An appeal for more information
A note about this web site
A part of the precept for this site was that it cost nothing. No web creation or html editing tools were used except for a short trial of early freeware html editing tools to see what was being missed. The html has been manually written using a text editor or simple word processor. I have made no attempt to change the look of this site to make it conform with the 21st century. It is deliberately left looking like a mid 1990s web site when the WWW was just blossoming in a sea of anonymous FTP servers. I think it is appropriate that it represents the past as this is after all a history site. One concession I have made to modernity is less restrictive use of images as well as increasing their resolution. Let us not forget that when this website was first established the Internet Service Provider disk quota for a website was 5 Megabytes. At the time of writing this sentence, December 2013, ISP disk quota is 1 Gigabyte. The other factor limiting number of images and keeping resolutions low was the bit rate of the link with the ISP. My first Internet connection was with a V.32 9600 BPS modem. Comparing this with ADSL2+ we have gone from 9.6 KBPS in the mid 1990s to in excess of 20,000 KBPS in 2013.
First released 25 March 1997
In this transient cyberspace, this web site has been at this same address for over 16 years
Latest updates
February 2009 - An email from Steve Bready re Telegram project poems appended to the Kota Kinabalu a computer tote installation chapter.
March 2009 - Other technological change appended to The shaft adder in the image chapter.
March 2009 - An email from George Julius' great grandson added to George Julius Genealogy and other latterday interest chapter.
October 2009 - Addition of Britain Holiday and image of Norwich to George Julius Genealogy and other latterday interest chapter.
November 2009 - Addition of link with image to London Science Museum and links to Max Burnet's pages to 3 more systems in Asia/Links to other pages chapter.
November 2009 - Addition of links to Don McKenzie's memoirs of a quarter of a century with Automatic Totalisators and Julius Finance, named after George Julius and removal of dead links in 3 more systems in Asia/Links to other pages chapter.
December 2009 - Addition of C.Y.O'Connor paragraph in the Sir George Julius chapter.
December 2009 - Addition of Ipswich Turf Club Julius Tote opening day information from ex ATL Engineer Rod Richards in The shaft adder in the image chapter.
December 2009 - Addition of paragraphs on Ian Bryce phone call, Rod Richards Julius Tote installation at Ipswich and Julius Finance a company named after George Julius in the Ex ATL meets Ex JP&G/Synchronicity/Photo Gallery chapter.
January 2010 - Addition of paragraphs on William Johnson's recollections of Las Vegas and an Autotote Quarterly extract in the Automatic Totalisators in America chapter.
January 2010 - Addition of George Julius' inspection of the installation at Flemington in 1931 to The Melbourne Cup Chapter.
January 2010 - Major additions to The Julius Premier Totemobile Chapter.
January 2010 - Addition of an image of Neville's "Giant Drum" assembly to the Video Clips of a Working Julius Tote Chapter.
January 2010 - Addition of a paragraph on George's model Pacific Class Locomote to the Ex ATL meets Ex JP&G/Synchronicity/Photo Gallery chapter.
January 2010 - Addition of links to a TIME magazine article by Prof Chris McConville and the Powerhouse Museum pages on George's model locomotive, the demo model for his tote and Ellerslie, in 3 more systems in Asia/Links to other pages chapter.
January 2010 - Addition of anecdotes by Don McKenzie and Graeme Twycross to the The Melbourne Cup chapter.
January 2010 - Addition to the Sir George Julius chapter of paragraphs Julius Poole & Gibson since 1988 by Max Sherrard and extracts from the Foreword by Prof Peter Johnson and Preface by Frank Matthews of the book From Tote to CAD.
February 2010 - Addition of Merv Cathcart's anecdote, relating to the 1974 flood, to the Melbourne Cup chapter.
February 2010 - Addition of examples of how this history seems to have connections to areas of interest pursued, to the Sir George Julius chapter at the end of the section titled more extracts From Tote To CAD.
April 2010 - Addition to the The Melbourne cup chapter of Early Tote History by ken Crook relating information on the introduction of Julius totes in Melbourne in 1931.
November 2010 - Addition to the George Julius Genealogy and other latterday interest chapter of Britain Holiday 2010 and Bob Moran's Interactive Julius Tote Displays.
April 2011 - Addition to the George Julius Genealogy and other latterday interest chapter of A Trip to Perth March 2011.
April 2011 - Implement higher resolution images in the Photo Gallery + Synchronicity and the Photo Gallery Continued chapters, as well as other images throughout the site<.br> May 2011 - Addition of White City Switchboard and top view of a J1 ticket issuing machine images to the Photo Gallery Continued chapter.
November 2011 - Addition of an email from Neil C relating to his experiences at Harringay to the The end of an era - Harringay chapter.
January 2012 - Addition of a possible link between Henry Setright and the tote, to the Photo Gallery+Synchronicity chapter.
January 2012 - Addition of an email from Tim Vickridge relating to George Julius' house in Fremantle, to the George Julius Genealogy and other latterday interest chapter.
February 2013 - Addition of an image of C.Y.O'Connor's statue in Perth as well as Postscript 2 in the Sir George Julius chapter.
June 2013 - Addition of an American patent dated 1918 for a TIM, with co-inventors George Julius and Frederick Wilkinson, in the Automatic Totalisators in America chapter.
July 2013 - Addition of information extracted from www.thekingscandlesticks.com thanks to Edward Fenn regarding Julius Genealogy to the George Julius Genealogy and Latterday Interest chapter. Also, a link to www.thekingscandlesticks.com has been added to the 3 More ATL Systems In Asia/Links to other pages chapter.
August 2013 - Addition of a note indicating new evidence contradicting Charlie Barton's dating of the shaft adders from Bundamba Racetrack Queensland to The shaft adder in the image chapter.
August 2013 - Addition of Rod Richard's memories of the ATL factory at Meadowbank to the Memories of the factory continued chapter.
August 2013 - Addition of William Johnson's memories of the Caracas installation to the Caracas a latterday Julius tote installation chapter.
August 2013 - Addition of The Computer Tote to The Melbourne Cup chapter.
September 2013 - Addition of The Microtote to the The Julius Premier Totemobile chapter.
September 2013 - Addition of Totalling Mechanisms Ltd and ATL notes on the company to the Automatic Totalisators Limited - later ATL chapter.
September 2013 - Addition of a segment from The Computer Tote and an extract from Tote Topics magazine called Automation comes to the Big A to the Automatic Totalisators in America chapter.
September 2013 - Addition of article titled The Durban Turf Club and Bahrenfeld Hamburg and Melbourne (Extract from ATL booklet The Computer Tote 1974) to the Tote Topics chapter.
September 2013 - Addition of New Electronic Totalisator At Georgetown and U.S.A. Installations Circa 1968 and Saratoga and Belmont Park to the Automatic Totalisators in America chapter.
September 2013 - Addition of Electronic Totalisators III and Happy at Happy Valley and More of The Singapore Turf Club (Extracts from Tote Topics Winter 1978) to the Tote Topics chapter.
September 2013 - Addition of The Toolmaking Division of Automaitc Totalisators Limited to the Automatic Totalisators Limited - later ATL chapter.
September 2013 - Addition of ATL systems service Australia's richest race to The Melbourne Cup chapter.
September 2013 - Addition of Djakarta uses versatile electronic totalisator systems and ATL is home at Wentworth Park and photograph Loading for departure to Guam to the Tote Topics chapter.
September 2013 - Addition of History of Horse Racing in Australia and Mornington and Sandown Park and Turffontein and Racing in New Zealand part III and Seventh Asian Racing Conference Wellington N.Z. and Jai Alai to the Tote Topics chapter.
September 2013 - Addition of ATL Sell/Pay system - Tote Topics Summer 76/77 and Totalisator Indicators - Tote Topics number 27 - March 1969 and The SAM System to the Automatic Totalisators Limited - later ATL chapter.
September 2013 - Addition of Tote Topics No.41 Greyhound Racing's New Look at Wentworth Park and William Johnson recalls these systems to the Tote Topics chapter.
September 2013 - Addition of an image of a Visitel and upgraded Artist's impression of control room image and Some more remnant impressions from the Caracas project to the Caracas, a latterday Julius Tote installation chapter.
September 2013 - Replacement of gif images with jpg images in the Memories of the Factory chapter and the Memories of the factory continued chapter.
October 2013 - Addition of United States of America Installations to the Automatic Totalisators in America chapter and Some Listed Installations to the Tote Topics chapter and some more Canadian Installations to the Caracas, a latterday Julius Tote installation chapter and Some other Julius tote installations in England to the The end of an era - Harringay chapter.
October 2013 - Addition of images titled Precision Grinding Department and A section of the Metrology Laboratory and The Heat Treatment Department and The small tool storage racks and Precision Milling Department and some additional text transcribed from Neville Mitchell's audio tape, to the Memories of the factory continued chapter.
October 2013 - Addition of There is some ATL equipment at the heart of every great racecourse to the Automatic Totalisators Limited - later ATL chapter.
October 2013 - Addition of image titled Size comparison valve and new semiconductor as well as comments about it in the Memories of the Factory chapter.
October 2013 - Addition of Quarter Horse Racing Tioga Park to the Automatic Totalisators in America chapter.
October 2013 - Addition of photographs, Caracas stables, track works building, one of the tote houses and the Caracas machine room as well as an improved image of the stands to the Caracas, a latterday Julius Tote installation chapter.
October 2013 - Addition of A new Julius Tote by Neville Mitchell and Neville Mitchell's Observations in Melbourne to The Melbourne Cup chapter.
October 2013 - Addition of Neville Mitchell's career with Automatic Totalisators, including images of the Mini Adder system in Melbourne, the PDP8 system in Hong Kong and the PDP11 system in Brisbane to the Automatic Totalisators Limited - later ATL chapter.
November 2013 - Addition of an image of a projector indicator and its associated text from Neville Mitchell in the Totalisator Indicators section of the Automatic Totalisators Limited - later ATL chapter.
November 2013 - Addition of An email from Ian Johnston under the heading Turffontein - Extracts from Tote Topics Autumn 1978 to the Tote Topics chapter.
November 2013 - Addition of Neville Mitchell's talk on The Premier automatic totalizator with several images to the The Premier Tote Operation 1930 chapter.
November 2013 - Addition of image titledThe Hialeah Miami Julius tote Show Pool 1932 with associated comments to the Automatic Totalisators in America chapter.
December 2013 - Addition of images titledPhoto 1 Randwick Results Dividends and Judges Indicator and Photo 2 Randwick Judges and Stewards Consoles with descriptions from Neville Mitchell to the Automatic Totalisators Limited - later ATL chapter.
December 2013 - Addition of image titled Neville Working at the Mutoh Drafting Machine to the Memories of the Factory chapter.
December 2013 - Addition of larger higher resolution photographs titled Image of the Caracas Tote Control Room, A Caracas Indicator Controller and Caracas Tote Control Room Consoles to the Caracas, a latterday Julius Tote installation chapter.
January 2014 - Addition of photographs titled ATL mobile computer tote trailer to the ATL The Brisbane Project chapter and photographs titled The PDP11 tote Console Terminals and The operations end of the ATL mobile computer tote and The Tally printers in the mobile computer tote and Okidata disk drive positioner arms and The ATL VAX based totalisator system and VAX/VMS Operating System Manuals in my office and The VAX based totalisator Operations Room to the Memories of a System Long Gone chapter as well as additional text and expansion of some existing text.
January 2014 - Addition of a photograph titled Project Team Tiffin in KK to the Kota Kinabalu A Computer Tote Installation chapter and associated text.
January 2014 - Addition of a photograph under the heading The Maintenance Workshop and another titled A view inside the Okidata sealed enclosure underneath the existing one showing a fully assembled Okidata disk drive, to the Computer Tote Maintenance chapter, as well as associated text for both photos.
February 2014 - Upgraded the December 2013 additions to the Automatic Totalisators Limited - later ATL chapter to a full description written by Neville Mitchell titled Randwick Resutls Indicator By Neville Mitchell.
February 2014 - Addition of Randwick Totalisator 1978 Upgrade to the The Premier Totalisator Operation 1930+Neville's Talk chapter.
February 2014 - Addition of photograph titled Neville Mitchell relaxes after a job well done to the The Melbourne Cup chapter.
February 2014 - Addition of photograph titled A close up of an adder from the system in the image above and associated text to The Melbourne Cup chapter.
February 2014 - Addition of information titled Julius Organ Company of Australia to the Photo Gallery Continued chapter.
March 2014 - Addition of images titled George Julius' Evans and Sons Lathe and Awdry Julius' Consutling Engineers Advancement Society Medal and George Julius' Peter Nichol Russell Medal and George Julius' Knighthood Medallion and George Julius' Kernot Medal and The Sir George Julius Medal with associated text to the Sir George Julius chapter.
April 2014 - Extension of the photo gallery from 21 to 69 images contained in two chapters, Photo Gallery + Synchronicity and Photo Gallery Continued chapters.
August 2014 - Addition of five paragraphs, the first starting with August 2014, to the Synchronicity section in the Photo Gallery + Synchronicity chapter.
August 2014 - Addition of information from John Relle about his father Vernon who was the Chief engineer of Totalisators Limited, which was the associate company of Automatic Totalisators in London in The end of an era - Harringay chapter.
August 2014 - Addition of an image of the main tote house at Flemington in 1945 when the Julius Tote was operating inside, to the Melbourne Cup chapter with associated text.
August 2014 - Addition of a link to the Victorian Racing Club, in the 3 more ATL systems in Asia - Links to other pages chapter. This link contains a 2014 image of the tote house mentioned in the previous entry along with associated text.
September 2014 - Addition of an image of The Chalmers street ex-ATL factory as it is in 2014 along with associated text, as well as an image of the same building as it was when ATL occupied the building which also includes an interview of Danny Alexander who was an apprentice during WW2 working in this building, to the Photo Gallery continued chapter of this website.
September 2014 - Addition of four more paragraphs to the Synchronicity section of the Photo Gallery + Synchronicity chapter, beginning with the paragraph I have already related some schoolboy synchronicity..
September 2014 - Addition of a paragraph regarding the banners in the crowd at the 1931 Melbourne Cup image, written by Tanya Williams in the Melbourne Cup chapter, starting with the words Tanya Williams, the VRC Arts and Heritage Curator.
September 2014 - Addition of a link to Bill Bottomley's Cyberfiles website in the 3 more ATL systems in Asia - Links to other pages chapter.
September 2014 - Addition of text describing my findings relating to locating the Automatic Totalisators factory at Alice Street Newtown, to the Photo Gallery continued chapter in the second paragraph, under the heading Early Factory Images in the photo gallery index.
September 2014 - Addition of Julius Poole & Gibson The Original Partners to the Sir George Julius chapter.



Introduction
 

This Web Site will have particular appeal to two groups of people.

Firstly, those who have an interest in history and in particular that of technology. Anyone who knows something about the history of computing knows of Charles Babbage. What is little known is that mechanical engineering gave the world a highly successful machine used around the world that could be thought of as mechanical or later electro-mechanical computing in the form of the totalisator. These were probably the world's first large scale real time multi user systems. One was tested in Sydney in 1920 capable of supporting 1000 terminals and a sell rate of 250,000 transactions per minute, good by standards 9 decades later! These were not a theoretical machine or science fiction in a magazine, they were manufactured, operated and developed over decades. Generally they had much longer lifespans than the computing systems of today. The system installed in Longchamps France in 1928 with 273 terminals operated for 45 years before being replaced by a computer system. The system installed in Caracas Venezuela was still operating in its 48th year. Working on the principle that a picture is worth a thousand words I suggest that readers in this category have a look at the Photo Gallery + Synchronicity and the Photo Gallery continued chapters by following the links in the index provided above. Although they were real systems they are visually impressive behemoths that looked like they originated from an imaginative science fiction magazine. If this generates an interest there is plenty of relevant historical content in this site to wade through. For those interested in the history of digital computers prior to the advent of the Microprocessor, there is a chapter relating to component level maintenance of PDP11 based totalisators which can be viewed by following the link Computer Tote Maintenance (technical) in the index above.

Secondly, those who have an interest in the horse racing, trotting and dog racing industries and the totalisators that they are so linked with. I find it curious that, for a nation that stops for a horse race, The Melbourne Cup, and for a nation where most of the citizens know what a TAB is, that Australians know so little of the rich history of the automatic totalisator . Sir George Julius, the founder of the Australian companies Julius Poole & Gibson Pty Ltd and Automatic Totalisators Ltd, invented the world's first automatic totalisator , which was installed at Ellerslie Racecourse in New Zealand in 1913. Automatic Totalisators grew to be a monopoly exporting totalisator systems throughout the world and was sold to another once great and large Australian technology company AWA (Amalgamated Wireless Australasia) in 1991. After the monopoly years it became part of an oligopoly. Finally with the advent of the digital computer, totalisators became just another application of computing and the business became openly competitive.

I worked on Automatic Totalisators' first sell pay computer totalizator system. The predecessors were all sell only including the computer totes. This computer based system was installed in Brisbane and superseded electromechanical totalizators which were descendants of the original invention. I was impressed by the craftsmanship and the ingenuity of these old systems, parts of which dated back to circa 1926. I saw one of these totalizator systems bulldozed and realised that this history could easily be lost. Along with peers I started to save shaft adders from the oldest totalizator which was at Ipswich. The shaft adders are analogous to part of the central processing unit in modern day terminology.

I found considerable interest in these shaft adders by Museums and Educational Institutions resulting in many donations. Professor Trevor Cole from Sydney University, accepting a shaft adder donation prior to the advent of the Internet, remarked that he had seen a model of Babbage's analytical engine and that the shaft adder reminded him of it. This consolidated my impression that these electro mechanical totalisator systems represented a technology that led to the invention of the computer. It is debatable whether these early electromechanical totalisators should be considered computers, due to technicalities such as the category of mechanical computing never having been established, however it is highly probable that they were the first large scale, real time, multi user systems, which are concepts that had to wait for the advent of the digital computer to become commonplace jargon. I noticed in a text relating to the Ellerslie Julius tote by Prof Bob Doran, that George Julius himself referred to a shaft adder as a computer. This of course predated our contemporary view of a computer which went through a transformation with the advent of the digital computer. Interestingly I heard a radio discussion where one of the participants indicated there was a time when some people were regarded as computers and you could get a job as a computer.

This page is a continued attempt to keep this history from fading away! I am unable to offer more eloquent words to express the motivation behind attempting to retain some of this history than those of Frank Matthews in the Preface to the book From Tote to Cad published by Julius Pool and Gibson:

"This book was written because memories grow dim and records tend to disappear. As Julius Poole & Gibson is the longest established Australian consulting engineering practice there seemed to be a duty to produce a historical record before it was too late."

I have included information on the Brisbane Project as one of the Company's later achievements. By 1978 the Company was struggling with applying its monopoly oriented culture to the new world of competition. The Brisbane Project existed in the shadow of a much larger project, Sha Tin in Hong Kong. When this failed, due to inability to deliver on time, the company's future depended on the Brisbane Project's success. Our brief became simple, "Brisbane must work". I consider myself privileged to have worked with the small group of selfless devotees who moulded another potential failure into success.

Image inside one of the Brisbane tote mobiles Inside one of the Brisbane tote mobiles

  Having mentioned the failure of the Sha Tin project, I will add that at the time of the failure, an Automatic Totalisators' computer tote system had been working at the Royal Hong Kong Jockey Club's Happy Valley track for a decade. This system was PDP8 based and supported 550 individual selling points.

I recall my first experience with the "Nation stopping for a horse race" mentioned above. I came to Sydney in 1964 from Hong Kong to attend boarding school. School life was structured and disciplined and education was a serious matter. It was with some suspicion of being the object of a practical joke, that I listened to the other students telling me that in the afternoon the teacher would stop and we would be allowed to listen to the radio broadcast of the Melbourne cup. I was introduced to the concept of a sweep, which further contributed to my suspicions that this was a joke.

I was later informed that I had been allotted Polo Prince and that this had been the last horse drawn from the hat and that it had next to no chance of winning. At this point I felt disadvantaged by not being fully initiated in these Australian customs.

I was astonished when I found that what I had been told was correct. I started to listen to my first horse race and the next thing I knew "They were off". A person was talking in a quick constant manner. As the race continued, the pace increased along with the excitement level. The words "Polo Prince" appeared more and more and I thought that this is probably good. The excitement built to a crescendo, then the broadcast returned to normal.

It was later confirmed, Polo Prince had won.

Mark Twain was also impressed by this phenomenon having made the following comment after seeing the Melbourne Cup in 1895. Nowhere in the world have I encountered a festival of people that has such a magnificent appeal to the whole nation. The Cup astonishes me.

The first year that an Automatic Totalisators system operated at Flemington on the Melbourne Cup was 1931. Totalisator betting was illegal in Victoria prior to 1931.

Brian Conlon

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Acknowledgements
Information has been extracted from Automatic Totalisators company magazines and documents.
Thanks to Max Anderson, Frank Matthews and Max Sherrard, for allowing me to quote from the book From Tote to Cad published by Julius Poole & Gibson.
Thanks to Peter Collier for bringing the New Scientist article mentioned above to my attention.
Thanks to Crames Studios--3D Animations and Graphics for the Australian flag
Thanks to my 11 year old son (1997) who was a great help with the typing, the html and the images.





Comments and suggestions welcome to totehis@hotmail.com


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