This is one of several pages relating to the history of the automatic totalizator, its invention in 1913, the inventor George Julius and the Australian company he founded in 1917 which became a monopoly ( later an oligopoly ) in this field. This page describes a shaft adder. This is a history only non commercial page. If you wish to start from the beginning then go to the index .

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The Shaft Adder


An Electro Mechanical Shaft Adder from Bundamba Racetrack Image of an electro mechanical shaft adder circa 1926

The shaft adder in the image is one of many that have been restored and donated to museums and educational institutions. The adder weighs 26 Kg and was part of a win place totalisator system. There was one adder per runner in the race per pool. The complete system for a 24 runner field consisted of 50 adders 24 for the win pool 24 for the place pool and a grand total for win and place pools. The racks were constructed with 25 adders in a row for the win pool backing onto another row of 25 for the place pool. This made quite an impressive sight. The Place pool system shown below is more modern than the one to which the displayed shaft adder belonged.

Place Pool Julius Tote Win pool totalisator

A note about Charles Barton's dating of the shaft adder below. Charles was the last Chief Engineer to work with the Julius Tote at Bundamba racetrack near Ipswich from which these shaft adders were extracted. Charles maintained that these shaft adders were manufactured circa 1926. Charlie used to work in Victoria and knew the adders came from Mentone. Contradictory evidence indicates that these adders started operating in Mentone in 1936. Unfortunately, Charles is no longer living to discuss this further. The Julius tote at Mentone was preceded by a Lightning tote which used marbles to represent units of investment but this is not to be confused with the Hodsdon Marble Totes. If these adders were manufactured for the Mentone racetrack then it is logical to deduce that they were manufactured either in 1936 or just prior.

Start of Charles Barton's description

This 2 shaft belt driven drum type adder was hand made by Automatic Totalisators in Sydney circa 1926 (probably 1936, see note above). It was installed at the Mentone Race Club Victoria where it was used until closure.

Circa 1947 (updated to 1950 by Rod Richards below) the adder was then used at the Ipswich Amateur Turf Club Queensland in conjunction with the custom made J6 and J7 model ticket issuing machines, until superseded in 1978 by a PDP11 digital computer based tote.

The adder registered either Win or Place bets on one horse only and could handle 4 units of different values on the rear shaft and 6 on the front shaft each controlled by a solenoid and an escapement wheel. e.g. 1 X 5 Pounds, 3 X 1 Pound, 2 X 10 shillings and 4 X 5 shillings.

The rate of sales, 72 per minute, was governed by variable speed rotary distributors, each with 16 TIMs ( Ticket Issuing Machines ) under its control and all on one particular value bank. Today these distributors would be called TDMs (Time Division Multiplexors).
A variable speed rotary distributor (scanner) Image of a rack containing a set of rotary distributors
Selling on the 10 banks for the Win and 10 for the Place, or 20 bets registered at the same instant was no problem. Since there were 16 TIMs per scanner which sold Win or Place, this equates to 16 TIMs X 10 bets each X 72 RPM or 11,520 bets per minute per adder per pool.

Note - The computer staff are regularly reminded by the proponents of this technology that the computer totalisators cannot register multiple bets at the same instant. The computer systems record them sequentially albeit so fast that it appears to be instantaneous. The shaft adders could register multiple bets on a single horse at the same instant.

In the event of a drive failure such as a belt breaking, all adders were fitted with automatic cut outs to prevent loss of bet registrations. The configuration of the adders on a racetrack were back to back. One row of adders, one adder for each horse for the win pool, backing on to a similar row for the place pool. At the end of each row were the grand total adders with the associated winding gear for raising the vertical lift sliders on every horse adder.

The horizontal component was produced via the large chain sprocket wheel which let its slider out in accordance with the bets on that runner. This produced an angle between the vertical and the hypotenuse which was always related to perfect odds for that horse.

On this angle was a pulley arrangement which drove some cams operating a small motor which in turn powered the large barometer style odds ribbons situated on the face of the tote building.

An example of a barometer style indicator Image of a barometer style indicator
Note - Neville Mitchell informs me that this indicator was in the paddock at Rosehill Sydney. The building is gone now, it was the main tote building with the machine room in the upstairs area.

For remote locations such as the centre of the racetrack or a loft, odds transmissions were achieved by the use of a variable resistance, mounted at the important angle mentioned and utilising the Wheatstone bridge principles. The remote receiver sensed any out of balance transmitted by the adder unit and drove itself and the odds display until the bridge centre leg potential was once again null and therefore equalling the transmitted odds.

Rising inflation and hence larger values being required, plus the need for exotic betting such as Doubles, Quinellas and Trifectas etc. made this machinery obsolete.

In addition to the shaft adder in the image, larger capacity adders, of 5 shafts for large racetracks, to single shaft adders for smaller applications, along with a highly developed modern miniature unit used in the mobile totalisators which serviced country racetracks for many years, were produced.

The basis of this revolutionary invention was the epicyclic bevel gear train designed by Sir George Julius. Such was the craftsmanship in manufacture that even after all those years of service 1926 - 1978, wear was minimal.

End of Charles Barton's description

Load a full screen image of a 3 Shaft Adder viewed from the escapement end. This adder had a capacity of up to 240 ticket issuing machines.

The tote houses on display in the images above and below, contained the machine rooms, which housed the frames, like the one in the second image on this page, which contained the shaft adders and other tote equipment, like the indicator display system. The ticket issuing machines were installed at the windows visible in these images. The two AJC notices that follow relate the operational procedures of 1917, being utilised on the newly installed Randwick Julius tote, inside the building shown in the image below. These procedures were in action and would have been on display inside this building at the time this photograph was taken. The system shown in the image below predates the invention of the odds calculating system used to drive the barometer indicators shown above. Instead the system below had the investments for each runner on display in the central section below the tower.



The Old Main Tote at Randwick 1917 Image of the old main tote at Randwick

Notes on the following 1917 notices:

  1. The underlined texts in the following paragraphs are not hypertext links they are replications of the original document.
  2. The Julius totes had manual payout requiring Payout Clerks.
  3. Later Julius totes had Ticket Issuing Machines requiring only one operator however it is evident that this 1917 machine, which was installed the same year these systems changed from purely mechanical to electro-mechanical, required two staff to operate them, a Seller and an Issuer Operator. It is interesting that the Issuer Operator is instructed not to listen to the customer in this two person operation.
  4. The manual effort required to achieve certainty in payment is interesting with the dividends being calculated up to ten times by each Paying Clerk then cross checked.
  5. It is also interesting to note that the technical staff maintaining these systems were called Mechanics. In the late 1970s, after implementing the first on course computer based totalisator systems in Brisbane, which superseded Julius totes, the technicians and engineers working on the computer systems were also called Mechanics by the operators. This continued for decades and now in 2008 we still have the odd call now and again for a Mechanic!


Australian Jockey Club

TOTALISATOR NOTICE
INSTRUCTIONS FOR TICKET ISSUER OPERATORS

First see that ticket paper is correctly placed in the machine. Try one or more test tickets, noting that race number is correct and that sufficient ink is on machine (reserve all test tickets for manager). Close up all horse numbers on machine when window is closed. Await the hoisting of board showing final scratchings, then open up horse numbers shown. Be ready to issue tickets immediately window is opened.

Do not issue any tickets until instructed to do so by the ticket seller. Pay no attention to numbers called for by investors, the ticket seller will ask you for tickets required.

Should a ticket be issued through any cause and not sold, it must be handed to the Telephone Operator immediately the window is closed, with an explanation showing why it was issued, or otherwise the Ticket Issuer Operator will be held responsible.

Immediately the window is closed, remove paper from issuer, leaving two partly printed tickets on roll, and put on new paper for next race. Change race number and proceed as before.

Should issuer get out of order from any cause, turn switch off at once; the window should be closed immediately and signal given for Mechanic. On no account try to rectify same yourself; do not try to issue any more tickets until Mechanic has left cubicle.


BY ORDER OF THE COMMITTEE

DECEMBER, 1917.


Australian Jockey Club

TOTALISATOR NOTICE
INSTRUCTIONS FOR PAYING CLERKS

Get cash from bank before first race. Get cash afterwards from banker or selling clerk as directed, giving I.O.U. for same.

When dividend is posted, work out dividends up to ten times and check same with next paying clerk, getting him to initial sheet, you initialling his.

Open up window when signal to pay is given, and keep it open until it is clear; on no account close the window too soon. Fill in list of tickets paid, and return all notes (retaining silver), tickets paid and list to banker, who will give receipt for same. Each ticket must be cancelled as it is paid. Carefully scrutinise ticket and check same with sample ticket given you before paying same, so as to avoid paying out on wrong tickets; as paying clerks will be held responsible for any mistakes made.

Should a legitimate doubt exist about tickets, ask the person tendering same to go to commission room or manager's room.

Should any ticket be presented which appears to be forgery or has been altered (use great discretion in doing this), obtain posession of same and ring the bell under counter, which will immediately bring a detective; then hand ticket to the detective, pointing out person who tendered same.

Should paying clerks be running short of change, pull out the sign for runner. Do not wait until change is exhausted; signal in time to prevent any stoppage in paying out.


BY ORDER OF THE COMMITTEE

DECEMBER, 1917.




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Rod Richards' Revelations

As mentioned above by Charles Barton, this adder moved to the Ipswich Turf Club at Bundamba, then known as the Ipswich Amateur Turf Club, after the operations at Mentone ceased. In November 2009 I was asked what year the Julius tote started operations at Bundamba. Charles Barton, last Chief Engineer of these systems suggests it was circa 1947. Shortly after this question I received an email from Rod Richards, an ex ATL engineer who had contacted me through this website regarding ATL. Although we previously engaged in significant email contact on this subject I did not realise until this, his latest email, that he had worked on the installation of the Julius tote at Bundamba. He knew exactly when the system opened in 1950 and even had a copy of the racebook from opening day. He sent me an image of the front cover of the racebook and a newspaper clipping relating to opening day. I have included Rod's images of the race book and article below. Rod had saved the racebook and newsclip for 60 years! Rod could not recall which paper the newsclip came from. I was two months old when this system opened!

The racebook image that Rod Richards sent me Image of the Julius tote opening day at Ipswich racebook cover

The newsclip image that Rod Richards sent me Image of the Julius tote opening day at Ipswich news clip

Note the problem with the display system. Some things never change! There always seems to be last minute hiccups with systems whether mechanical, electromechanical, electrical or electronic most of which are overcome by opening day and some slip through and are left for later rectification.

Additionally note the reference to "electric machines". I have heard the Julius tote at Eagle Farm racecourse referred to as the "electric tote".

Also note the mention of the Hodson Tote in the above article. This was a Marble Tote where marbles representing bets, were rolled down runner specific channels operating a counting gate at the bottom of the channel. I once read a brief description of this system, I think it was by Len Little who operated a manual Trifecta at the Brisbane Metropolitan racetracks when I started in Brisbane in 1978. As a result of this article I came to realise that computers are not the only machinery that has exception conditions and exception handlers. As part of this revelation I also realised that any real time system has events that inflict instant apprehension on the staff operating it. For the Marble Tote it was the bank up. Debris build up in the channels of the Marble Tote could cause a condition termed a bank up where marbles would be blocked from rolling all the way down the channel. When this occurred it fell upon the "Marble Boys" to scurry down the channels, identify the cause of the bankup and clear it to the best of their ability in a fashion that did not cause an avalanche of marbles. This was not always possible and there were times when an avalanche occurred causing a mass of marbles to arrive at the counting gate, a condition that would often result in marbles jumping out of the channel and rolling around the counting room floor with bewildered operators picking them up and scratching their heads wondering where they came from.

On the subject of any real time system having events that inflict instant apprehension on the staff operating it I had a favourite in the PDP11 period. This actually touches on another subject of the significance of sound with the Julius Tote, which the engineers working on them could use to determine the health of the systems and often identify a faulty part. A system crash with the PDP11s produced a crash dump with some of the information being sent to the console terminal. This included the contents of the general purpose registers, contents of other pertinent processor and peripheral registers and the contents of the stack. This resulted in many short lines with many carriage returns and line feeds on the hard copy Teletype making a staccato sound which you immediately recognised and had no need to go and read what was being typed announcing that your day had just taken a step for the worst.

Rod has since sent other emails providing more information on the Ipswich Julius Tote installation. I have omitted the second of the three images Rod refers to in this text. It shows the indicator being constructed and this indicator is clearly visible in the third photo, the indicator running at right angles to the tote building. The shaft adder in the image at the top of this page was operating as part of the Julius tote inside the tote building shown in the image below at the time this opening day photo was taken.

Rod's image of the Julius tote house being constructed at Ipswich reminds me of an observation of a possible relationship between George’s two companies. Since the advent of microprocessors and more compact computer hardware totalisators have been easily accommodated in existing buildings. In the Julius tote era, tote houses were custom built to house the tote machinery. Another probable reason for the construction of new tote houses is that in this distant past racetracks had less infrastructure to house the new machinery. The Old Main tote building at Randwick in the image displayed several images above is another example of a custom built Julius tote house. Charles Norrie suggests in his talk to the Computer Conservation Society at the London Science Museum in 1993 that George Julius’ two companies Automatic Totalisators and Julius Poole and Gibson had a synergistic relationship with the former selling totalisator systems and the latter designing and overseeing the construction of the buildings to house them. An extract from an edited transcript of this talk follows.

Anecdotal evidence from Julius' son Audrey, who was the one son to go into Julius Poole & Gibson, suggests that though the totalisator was a separate venture from Julius' engineering consultancy, the latter benefited from the orders for buildings at racecourses. Julius' firm's order book suggests also that this was so.

There is a link in the links section of this site to the complete edited transcript of Charles’ speech.

Rod Richards' additional information

With the Bundamba installation, I recall it was all stops out with a couple of all nighters thrown in to get to open on time, but the indicators had to suffer, does this sound familiar to you? The problem was mainly due to the various equipment arriving in time at Bundamba by road transport from Sydney, which in those days were ex WW2 semi's, which we thought would never get to us and put us way behind schedule.

It might be of interest to see the attached photo's, these are some that I took during the installation of the Totalisator in May/June 1950. I am sorry about the poor quality of the photo's as they are nearly 60 years old and I had to re photograph the originals so that I could email them.

In photo 1, it shows the Tote house under construction in May 1950, the chap in the foreground is Bob O'Leary, the Tote Engineer in charge of the installation. Bob and I did much of the early ground work in installing the Totalisator right up to the start of operations and in the future running of the machine.

Photo 1 Julius Tote House under construction Image of the Julius tote building construction

Photo 2. The Indicator Enclosure under construction. Photo omitted
The Indicators were one of the problems with the installation as we were not able to have them completed in time for the opening.

Photo 3. The grand opening of the Automatic Totalisator on Race Day 3rd June 1950. Image of the Julius tote opening day at Ipswich

I still have some vivid memories of the Bundamba installations and of Ipswich as this was my first Totalisator installation and trip away from the Meadowbank factory.

Just one other thing that you may have knowledge of, was the "Magic Eye " camera, or photo finish camera. This version was developed by ATL around 1949 and was used for the first time at Bundamba. The camera was located in a specially built enclosure above the Judges Box and operated by ATL staff; I did operate the camera at times. In operation each finish was taken and if the judges called for a photo, the image was taken from the camera, which had developed the film, and dropped down a chute to the judges.

I remember the camera being developed at the factory by a serious dark haired chap and the rumour has it that he was a Spitfire pilot in WW2 and was developing the camera for ATL based on the gun camera in the aircraft, of course this caught my attention, but how much truth is in the story I do not know, but I still wonder what did happen to the Magic Eye camera at Bundamba and did it develop into other installations.

End of Rod Richards' information


Fancy Line


An Aviation Diversion

We have had a few pilots in ATL that I am aware of, Rod Richards is one of them and we have had some email interaction on this subject. Alan Rose is another, who was an ATL engineer and project manager and is mentioned on other pages in this site. David Hamilton, who was ATL Operations Manager for New South Wales, was a Navy Pilot. He has flown some iconic aircraft like the Supermarine Seafire through to jet aircraft and he has very interesting aviation anecdotes relating to the difficulties of landing on an aircraft carrier. Norm Lee, was an ATL Operations Engineering Manager and also an aviator. George Julius' son Roderick was an aviator and he is mentioned below. And then there is myself. I too am in this fraternity. Following is a brief observation of technological change with a mention of aviation.

This website is an observation of technological change. The tote was transformed after half a century of electro-mechanical computing to a digital computer application. Many other transformations have also taken place during this transition.

In the early 1990s the totalisator history saga was being preserved by cleaning up shaft adders like the one in the image at the top of this page and donating them to museums and educational institutions. These donations were being arranged by writing and reading letters (snail mail). By the late 1990s the story was being told by this website and related communication was by Email. The following paragraph is an extract from an article written for a Tabcorp company magazine called On Track in January 2007.

Today in the era of mobile phones, when people are in contact all the time, it seems archaic to envisage a time when there were no mobile phones let alone contemplate having no phone at all. This was the case when the new computer system started, in the late 1970s, as it was illegal to have any telephone on course. I recall many occasions of having to leave Eagle Farm racetrack, one of 5 this system serviced, and walk down Racecourse Road to a public phone box to make a phone call. This phone box started out as one of the red wooden types, not unlike Dr Who’s TARDIS, then was upgraded to an aluminium and glass one and then like Dr Who’s TARDIS totally disappeared only to reappear transformed again in another location and time. When we used to be at the racetrack late at night, trying to rectify an end of session procedure which had gone wrong, or repairing a system so it would be available to run the next meeting, it was not possible to quickly ring home to say that we were still alive and well. As we were locked inside the tracks and we were not entrusted with keys, entering and exiting the tracks required climbing fences so it was easier not to call. One night the wife of one of our technicians had enough of the anxious waiting for him to come home and rang the police. They arrived at the trotting track and awoke the racecourse manager there. This caused a significant political issue between ATL and the Club management. ATL management took a dim view of the phone call however I felt that she had made a good point. This sort of thing evidently was nothing new. Charlie Barton who was the Chief Engineer of the electromechanical systems in Brisbane, had a term for wives of tote engineers, he called them tote widows.

As mentioned elsewhere on this website relating to the Brisbane Project the electro-mechanical Julius tote systems were replaced by digital computer based totalisators manufactured by Automatic Totalisators, the same company that manufactured the Julius totes. When the Brisbane Project, which developed the PDP11 based tote systems to replace the electromechanical Julius totes in Brisbane, entered the installation phase, there was a permanent contingent of the Systems Dapartment on site at the tracks in Brisbane. As this project was running behind time development work continued on this system in Brisbane. Massive amounts of overtime were being worked and finally the members on site decided they needed a week end off. The following is an extract from an article I wrote for a company magazine called On Track in May 2006.

The project team about to leave Rockhampton Image of an Aztec and the on track team in Rockhampton

The on-site project team came to me one day, prior to the commencement of operations of the new system and asked if I would fly them to Rockhampton and Keppel Island, for a well deserved week end off. After ascertaining the availability of a suitable aircraft I replied in the affirmative. When the Project Manager was informed he replied that a weekend off for everyone was out of the question. The team insisted that they desperately needed a break and eventually convinced him that the increased productivity resulting from the break would be worthwhile. So it was that we found ourselves on a Friday night on a left downwind to runway 15 in an Aztec F admiring the lights of Rockhampton below. The time on the beach at Great Keppel Island was truly therapeutic. The project manager mentioned above left Automatic Totalisators after this project and joined the Victorian TAB as Computer Systems Development Manager. He later became a Vice President of United Tote. He is an excellent totalisator historian.

Cirrus on final, Runway 28R Archerfield Image of a Cirrus on final Runway 28R Archerfield

To put technological change into perspective it is hard to believe that my grandparents could remember a time without any radio or aeroplanes. There is quite dramatic evidence of this change in aviation. In the two photographs above, the Aztec had the classic mechanical instrumentation found in all aircraft of its time. The Cirrus, a new generation aircraft, on the other hand has a "glass cockpit" where the traditional mechanical instruments are replaced by CRT or LCD screens which resemble a video game. The engine page of the MFD (Multi Function Display) is visible in the centre of the picture. The PFD (Primary Flight Display) is on the left and hidden by myself and the seat back. The mechanical instruments on the right are backup instruments. These impart a warm fuzzy feeling inside to those pilots familiar with the way it was and those skeptical of the reliability of electronics and those who have nightmares about losing a whole category of instrumentation in a single failure.

Since I put the above aviation images on the Internet it has occurred to me that there is a problem with my presentation. I have placed an image of a light aircraft glass instrument panel as it is new and unusual. As time passes however, this glass panel will become the norm and readers will ask what it was like prior. To rectify this problem I have added the following additional image that is an example of a classic instrument panel.

Piper Cheyenne classic instrument panel. Image of a Piper Cheyenne classic instrument panel

What does this have to do with totalisator history I perceive you ask? Well apart from the Automatic Totalisators on-site crew going on a flying week end and an observation of another significant technological change, George Julius, the inventor of the world's first automatic totalisator, was interested in Aviation. George was the Chairman of the Australian Council for Aeronautics.

George's son Roderick was a pilot. Roderick installed a Julius tote in the USA. He flew around Australia in a Taylor Cub aircraft. He also owned a Taylor Cub along with Clarence Stumbles. They were both directors of Wings Pty Ltd. Roderick was interested in multiple avaition ventures. He intended to partake in an air pageant at Orange and was tragically killed in an aircraft accident at Narrow Neck in the Megalong valley, whilst travelling to Orange. Sadly this accident seems to be a classic example of an aviation accident syndrome called get-home-itis or get-there-itis which is akin to Mission Mania.

Recently I was informed that Churchill Julius, George's father had his first flight with Francis Chichester. I was sent a copy of a photograph titled Archbishop Julius and Ada made their first flights with Mr Francis C. Chichester (later Sir Francis) at Wigram Aerodrome in May 1930. Francis Chichester was the first pilot to land at Lord Howe and Norfolk islands, two locations I have many fond memories flying to. I have exchanged many emails on the subject of aviation with Dermot Elworthy, George's great nephew who is a retired pilot.

Let's not forget that ATL used to manufacture parts for the iconic Australian aircraft the Victa Air Tourer. This had to comply with the demanding airworthiness requirements. This project pre-dated my time with ATL as I started in 1977. Neville Mitchell remembers Air Tourer parts production at the Meadowbank Factory.

And then there was this! Narelle was reading a book which I am looking forward to reading after she has finished, called My God Its A Woman written by Nancy Bird Walton, a famous Australian aviation pioneer. She wrote about the first time the Singapore to Australia air route became available. A new company was formed to fly this route called Qantas Empire Airways. This company was owned forty nine percent by Queensland And Northern Territory Aerial Services (QANTAS), forty nine percent by Imperial Airways and had a two percent ownership arbitrator. The name of this arbitrator? You guessed it. Sir George Julius!


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Acknowledgements



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