This is one of several pages relating to the history of the automatic totalisator, 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 primarily provides a display of images related to early totalisator photographs. If you wish to start from the beginning then go to the index
|Ex ATL meets Ex JP&G|
Since the first release of these pages a year ago I have been attempting to meet with Frank Matthews, the last senior partner of Julius Poole and Gibson who has kindly given permission to use material from the book published by Julius Poole and Gibson titled From Tote To CAD. He has collected George Julius memorabilia which I am interested in. This meeting eventually took place on 23rd March 1998 when I was visiting New South Wales and Frank invited my wife Narelle and I to his house. This meeting I have titled Ex ATL meets Ex JP&G as Frank is ex JP&G and I am ex ATL (Automatic Totalisators Limited). Frank donated several Julius papers and has lent me as well as donated many photographs some of which I have put on display in the Photo Gallery that follows.
I have had some curious personal coincidences with this history. During a telephone conversation with Frank, I started relating some of my coincidences to him and arrived at the part regarding one of the original partners Gibson of Julius Poole and Gibson, getting married at the church in St Johns Avenue Gordon. I lived nearby for over a decade. When I mentioned Gordon, Frank responded "that is interesting, I am Gordon born and bred"! I indicated that I used to live in Waugoola Street and he informed me that he lived in Lennox Street. After this conversation ended, Lennox Street started to haunt me, as I knew the name well but could not place it. When I looked it up I was surprised to find that Waugoola Street runs into Lennox Street and that I had travelled down Frank's street almost every day for over a decade.
After the Photo Gallery, most of which is from Frank Matthew's collection, I have continued with more examples of the synchronicity events.
|Totalisator History Photo Gallery|
This Photo Gallery gives a picture-book like view of this history and is relevant to much of the information in other chapters of this site. It almost exclusively focuses on the mechanical and electromechanical eras of the company's production, as I believe these to be of greater historical significance. Although the company had a significant product line extending well into the electronic and digital computer eras, I feel these products to be of less historical significance, as it was only one of a plethora of companies producing electronic and computer based equipment, not only in this relatively specialised field but a large range of other fields of industry. But for a select few, the world had not seen mechanical and electromechanical computing on such a large scale. As a result the categories of mechanical and electromechanical computing were never established.
Click on the images below to load the full sized photographs.
Ellerslie Racecourse New Zealand 1913 - Photos over a century old!
|The world's first automatic totalisator Ellerslie Racecourse Auckland.
This system was installed in 1913 and is the world's first automatic totalsiator. Unlike the subsequent Julius totes installed at Ellerslie, which were electromechanical, this one was purely mechanical. The installation at Ellerslie was the first automatic totalizator in the world and although it looked like a giant tangle of piano wires, pulleys and cast iron boxes and many racing officials predicted that it would not work, it was a great success. This system also probably qualifies as the first real time multi user system. It had thirty terminals.
|The Tote House at the Ellerslie Racecourse Auckland housing the world's first automatic totalisator, in operation in 1916. The system was installed in 1913|
|The top view of the world's first automatic totalisator, shown in the first image|
|The Ellerslie 1913 tote Selling Stations|
|Early Purely Mechanical Julius Tote wiring probably at Ellerslie Racecourse|
|A final view of the world's first automatic totalisator at Ellerslie Racecourse. Mechanical Computing on an industrial scale.|
Gloucester Park Trotting Track Western Australia
|Western Australian Trotting Association's Tote Building housing a Julius Totalisator at Gloucester Park. The world's second automatic totalisator was installed here in 1916 after Ellerslie above. I know of two Julius tote installations here. The first was in 1916 and the second in 1929. Although there is no date on this photograph, I deduce that it is showing the second Julius Tote installation. The 1916 installation like the Ellerslie System above was purely mechanical. The tote installed in this photograph is its electromechanical successor. I visited this trotting track in 2011 and the track management were very obliging and were already engaged in preserving this history. They went to great lengths to show me the locations where parts of this system were installed. I have written about this under the heading A trip to Perth March 2011 in the George Julius Genealogy and Other Latterday Interest chapter of this website. If you wish to read it use the navigation bar at the bottom of this page to go to the index and select the chapter there.|
|The indicator of the first Julius Tote at Eagle Farm 1917. This was the world's third automatic totalisator and it had 24 terminals. I have a particular interest in these Brisbane racecourses as I worked on them for over three decades.|
|The Doomben Main Tote House with a Julius Tote working inside 1960. I have included this image here as I have made reference to it being demolished in the text associated with the last image. It is another good example of the crowds and associated bet traffic that these Julius Totes had to contend with. An amazing achievement for electromechanical computing. I think Charles Babbage, known to anyone who knows anything about computer history, would have loved this.|
|The Albion Park Main Tote House with a Julius Tote installed. This continues the theme of the changing face of racetracks, started in the text accompanying the first image of this section, as this building was also demolished during my tenure at the Brisbane racetracks. Ironically, I saw the Russ Hinze stand at this track both constructed and demolished around a quarter of a century later.|
|Having mentioned Doubles equipment being implemented using paper-tape punch and readers in the image above, here is an image of the sort of paper-tape equipment I recall operating in Brisbane, in 1978 when the Julius Totes and this later equipment was being replaced with the first computerised on-course totalisator system in Queensland.|
|This is The Flat at Eagle Farm Racetrack. I mentioned it in the text associated with the first image of this section above. I referred to it in the context of the historic buildings at the track giving the impression that nothing much changes, when in reality a lot of changes do take place. In the second and third images of this section of the Photo Gallery above, I have presented main tote houses at Doomben and Albion Park, that I saw demolished and this image is an example of change prior to my time at Eagle Farm.|
Morphettville, South Australian Jockey Club 1921
|This is an image of the main tote house and betting ring at the South Australian Jockey Club's Morphettville racetrack. The original Julius Tote installation was performed here in 1921 with 34 terminals and a second Julius Tote Installation was performed in 1926 adding another 30 terminals. These were the 13th and the 23rd installations performed by Automatic Totalisators.|
Western India Turf Club Bombay 1925
|The Western India Turf Club Machine Room, Another example of the many electromechanical real time multi user systems manufactured by the Australian Company Automatic Totalisators before the burgeoning electronics industry began.|
|The Western India Turf Club Grandstand housing the above machine room with Win and Place Pool Runner Totals displays and Win and Place Pool Grand Total displays|
|The Western India Turf Club Julius Runner Adder and Indicator unit. Have a look at the Storage Screws, a mechanical form of memory.|
|The Western India Turf Club Julius Runner Adder and Indicator unit. The same adder as the one above only viewed from the front instead of the back. The digits on the front of this adder and others like it, can be seen in the display windows constituting the Win and Place pool runner total displays in the side of the Western India Turf Club Grandstand shown above, in the second image of this section of the Photo Gallery..|
Longchamps Paris 1928 - Probably the world's first large scale real time multi user system
|The adders in Longchamps France. This photograph was taken inside the machine room of the Longchamps Julius Tote. This system was described in a Paris newspaper as "The Insatiable Moloch". This electromechanical system was installed in 1928. It is a large scale, real time, multi user system, long before the electronics and computers that made these concepts commonplace. Looking deep into this image gives an idea of how many of these adders were in the Longchamps system. There will be more behind the phtogrpaher.|
|Longchamps Racecourse France circa 1929. The rectangular boxes in this building are totalisator indicators. The Julius Tote machine room is in this building and along the bottom are selling windows with J5 Ticket Issuing Machines which are part of the system. The crowd gives a good indication of the attendance at race meetings in those days and the betting load the Julius Totes had to cater for. The third image below shows a close up view of this building.|
|One of the many electromechanical shaft adders at Longchamps. Mechanical computing on an industrial scale. There are mechanical storage devices clearly visible on this adder called Storage Screws, prior to the advent of electronics and the digital computer era that made the concept of storage commonplace. To read more about the Storage Screw go to the second page of the Photo Gallery by scrolling to the bottom of this page and selecting the Next page option in the navigation bar, then scroll down to the Brough Park Newcastle Upon Tyne 1936 section. To see a rear view of one of these adders partially assembled look at the last image in this Longchamps section.|
|Two of the scanner racks at Longchamps including the scanners, the overlap relays and isolation switches. The Scanners are electromechanical Time Division Multiplexers long before the electronics that made these devices commonplace.|
|A close up view of the Longchamps pavilion shown in the second photograph of the Longchamps section above. This photograph shows the runner total and pool grand total public display counters.|
|An image of the type of counter wheel display adders used at Longchamps. The Longchamps counter wheel adders had a sixth counter wheel. There is one of these adders with its counter wheels on display in the slotted windows shown in the above image and the second image in the longchamps section of this Photo Gallery. In the above image a man is standing on a ladder working on the outside of one of these windows.|
|An image of one of the 273 J5 Ticket Issuing Machines at Longchamps. This particular machine is in one of the booths at the bottom of the Longchamps Pavilion as seen at the bottom of the second photo above.|
|This is the rear view of a partially assembled Julius Tote Adder for Longchamps. It is the same type of adder as the one in the third photograph in this Longchamps Paris 1928 section above. The first photograph of this section above gives an idea of how many of these adders were part of the Longchamps system. This image provides a good view of the adding shafts and the storage screws which are a mechanical form or memory.|
Harold Park Harness Racing Track
|Harold Park Paceway. In this photograph album there are images of buildings that have long gone. Harold Park takes this concept a step further as the whole Paceway has disappeared. It moved to Menangle in 2010. Graham McNeice has produced a film called "The Ribbon of Light" which chronicles the history of Harold Park. This image certainly brings the term Ribbon of Light to mind. Graham recollects that when he was a teenager, every Sydney taxi driver knew where Harold Park was. Associated with this image is part one of David Hamilton's Tote Memoirs. David was the New South Wales Operations Manager for Automatic Totalisators.|
|The Harold Park Paceway main tote house or Paddock Tote. This existed on the grounds of the track shown in the previous image. Associated with this image is part two of David Hamilton's Tote Memoirs.|
|Selling windows with ticket issuing machines at Harold Park in 1958. This is an inside view of the building in the previous image. Associated with this image is part three of David Hamilton's Tote Memoirs.This building also housed generations of totalisator mainframes. These look like J10 Ticket Issuing Machines. This image is not here to convey anything particular about Harold Park except that it had Julius Tote machinery prior to its computer totes. The image is presented to give an idea what the Julius Tote ticket issuing machines looked like inside a tote house.|
|A raceday control console at Harold Park 1958. This controlled variables such as field size, race number and scratchings. This image has been placed under Harold Park just for categorisation purposes. It is not here to contribute to a view of Harold Park but as an image that shows a Raceday Control Console which is a significant part of a Julius Tote and this is the best image I have of one.|
|An unusual image of Harold Park showing the Tram based tote houses and indicators poised on the side of a cliff. Harold Park Paceway was the first racecourse in the Southern Hemisphere to install an Electronic Totalisator System. This system was developed and manufactured by Automatic Totalisators and superseded a Julius tote also designed and manufactured by Automatic Totalisators.. The N.S.W. Trotting Club, the company that controlled Harold Park, at the time could boast of having the most modern Totalisator facilities anywhere in the trotting world. There is text associated with this image providing information from David Hamilton and Neville Mitchell.|
|The type of crowds the electro mechanical systems had to contend with. October 1936, Wellington Racing Club|
|A three shaft adder viewed from the escapement end. This adder had a capacity of up to 240 ticket issuing machines.|
|An early ATL Computer Tote System, based on DEC PDP8s. ATL (Automatic Totalisators Ltd.) was an OEM (Other Equipment Manufacturer) of DEC (Digital Equipment Corporation). I have heard from several sources within DEC, like Ray Warner who trained just about everyone I know within ATL on the PDP11, and Max Burnet, CEO of DEC Australia, that ATL was a significant factor in getting DEC Australia established.|
The Photo Gallery is continued on the next page accessible via the next page button on the navigation bar at the end of this page.
I am very interested in synchronicity events. I have experienced a significant amount of them in association with totalisator history. The coincidence with Frank Matthews recorded at the top of this page started me thinking more about them. I have recorded some of them here.
Having mentioned an address coincidence at the top of this page I will continue with some other address coincidences. I worked for Automatic Totalisators Ltd, a company founded by George Julius. Previously, I worked for AWA and whilst there spent a long period on a contract of AWA's at the Sydney Opera House. There, we were sub contracted to the prime contractor Julius Poole & Gibson, the other company founded by George Julius. During my time at Automatic Totalisators I had a lot to do with another company DEC or the Digital Equipment Corporation which was the world's number two computer company after IBM. The totalisator systems developed and manufactured by Automatic Totalisators during the computer era were based on Mini Computers manufactured by DEC. I attended a course on the PDP11, conducted by Ray Warner, at DEC's training facility in Atchison Street St Leonards. What I have recently discovered is that Julius Poole and Gibson also had offices in this street. I thought that was quite a coincidence however there is more. In a DEC letterhead of 1964 the address in Sydney was Toolang road Turramurra. I discovered an address for Julius Poole and Gibson in the Yellow Pages in Somerset Avenue Turramurra. If you extend Toolang road across Cowan Creek and extend Somerset Avenue a short distance South the two streets would meet! They are in easy walking distance of each other. Add to this that these addresses are 3.5 Kilometres from Waugoola and Lennox streets in the first coincidence at the top of this page. Then Saint Johns Church in Gordon, where Alexander Gibson was married, who is the partner named in the company Julius Poole and Gibson, is only walking distance from Lennox and Waugoola streets. And that is not far from Killara where Sir George Julius lived in retirement. This all would be expected if it were a small country town however this is a massive Australian Capital City, Sydney. On this subject of streets there is another coincidence I find curious. The factory Automatic Totalisators built prior to the factory I worked in at Meadowbank is in Chalmers street Sydney. In 2014 I discovered the building was still standing and there is an entry relating to this factory later in this text. This factory manufactured totalisator systems which were far flung around the planet. It could be said it was the major bastion of the industry at the time. A contemporary bastion of the totalisator industry is Tabcorp and its head office in NSW is in Harris Street. Prior to Tabcorp, the Harris street premises were the head office of TAB Limited, previously known as the NSW TAB. I worked for Tabcorp and TAB Limited and whilst working for AWA I did some installation work in the NSW TAB computer room in these premises. In other words major totalisator history has transpired in this building in Harris street. If you extended Harris street across Central Station, the old Automatic Totalisators factory would be on Harris Street!
On the way to see Frank Matthews, Narelle and I visited her uncle Bruce and his wife Cynthia. During the conversation the subject of the internet was raised and subsequently led to totalisator history. Cynthia said "My father used to work for the TAB in 1921. I think I still have his letter of commendation". I thought to myself that so far as I knew there was no TAB that early and that they were a product of the 1960s. Cynthia found the letter. Sure enough, the letterhead read Automatic Totalisators Limited, the company I was working for! It was dated 9th May 1921. The head office address was 10 Castlereagh Street Sydney and the factory address was Alice Street Newtown the telephone number was L1943. It related the length of service and the final paragraph read " We have pleasure in stating that he performed his duties in a satisfactory manner, and it is only on account of slackness of work that he leaves us." It was signed by the Works Manager.
A postscript to the above paragraph: Not synchronicity but an interesting development. The above paragraph was written mid 1998. On 5 November 2009 I received an email from Jon B based in England. He wrote that he found this website during research into the late Henry Setright, inventor of the "Setright" bus ticket machine.He indicated that he had come across links between Henry and the Tote. Jon asked if I could shed any light on this connection. At the time I had not heard the name Setright and as Jon had identified a reference to Henry Setright on the Powerhouse Museum website I put him in contact with the Principal Curator there.
In December 2011, I was looking for a totalisator history document and was flicking through a mass of pages in a manila folder. As I searched for the document which had nothing to do with the one being discussed here, I became conscious that I had just glanced at something that registered as being significant. I started to backtrack through the recently scanned pages and I found it. It was the name Setright. The document was the letter of commendation mentioned in the previous paragraph. The signature of the Works Manager clearly revealed the surname Setright. The initial of the signature was not so clear and looked like it could be two or three superimposed letters in an ornate fashion, however one of the letters could well have been a H in which case this is likely to be the signature of Jon's Henry Setright.
I used to partake in "bob a job week" with the Boy Scouts when I was in boarding school. One of the streets we frequented was Ocean street Woollahra which is where George Julius lived at one stage.
For many years I thought my knowledge of Julius Poole and Gibson, George's Engineering Consulting Company, was purely related to Automatic Totalisators. When I first saw the book From Tote To CAD it was handed to me at an open page when I was working for Automatic Totalisators. The page contained a photograph of one of the audio consoles in the Sydney Opera House. I had been a member of the engineering staff that installed it. This triggered my recollection that I had known Julius Poole and Gibson a lot longer than I thought at the time, as they were a prime contractor at the Opera House. The photo was from the early 1970s when I was working for AWA (Amalgamated Wireless Australasia) in the Field Engineering Department based at North Ryde when that factory alone had approximately 1500 employees. From memory AWA was sub contracted to JP&G on the Opera House project. The following photograph is one of myself taken in the Opera House Record and Rehearsal Studio control room during the installation and commissioning phase of the project. The audio console in the book From Tote To CAD was installed in the Concert Hall control room and was exactly the same as the one shown below.
An Opera House Audio Console
Probably my first glimpse of totalisator history came in the early years of working for AWA mentioned above. One of my early duties was to assist with the operation and maintenance of the television system at Randwick Racecourse. My mentor was an excellent technician called Bill Wilson. I recall being impressed by the architecture of some of the old buildings at the racetrack. I did not know it at the time however one of the particularly interesting buildings was the old main tote which was purpose built in 1917 to accommodate a Julius totalisator. Nowadays (2008) it is hidden behind the Randwick Pavilion. The following photo is of this building in its heyday. I had no idea at the time that this building was a harbinger of things to come and that I would spend so long working for the company that designed and built the Julius tote that this building used to house. Additionally I had no idea that I would spend most of my working life in the totalisator industry. I suspect I had little to no idea at the time what a totalisator was. If someone would have suggested to me that decades later I would find such an interest in the antiquated electromechanical Julius totes, one of which operated in this building, which were a dying architecture at the time, that I would be writing and lecturing about them, I would probably have suggested that they should have their head examined.
The Old Main Tote at Randwick 1917
I had my first look at a totalisator during these early years at AWA. Whilst with the Field Engineering Department I had a job to wire a rack in the computer room of the New South Wales TAB. I spent a week there on this job never thinking that three decades later I would become a long term employee of this organisation although the name had changed to TAB Limited and then Tabcorp, both being organisations I have worked for.
To diverge a little, a coincidence which has little to do with totalisator history except that it took place on a totalisator business trip for ATL. One Friday afternoon I was asked if I could attend a course in San Diego starting Tuesday. I was to attend a course conducted by Simpact, on an ICP (Intelligent Communications Processor) and then write the software to implement this device in our front end processors to achieve synchronous operation. After having traversed the Pacific Ocean and caught a domestic flight from Los Angeles to San Diego, I found myself on the phone to the hotel where I had a booking. It was after 11PM and I was hoping that I would be picked up at the airport. I was informed that I had already checked in: I assured them that I had not checked in and that I really was at the airport. This dialogue continued for several minutes. I did not relish the prospect of having to search for alternative accommodation in the middle of the night in a city I did not know . I eventually convinced them to pick me up from the airport and find me another room somewhere. It turned out that a doctor from Ireland with the same surname and initial had arrived without a booking on the day I was to arrive and wanted to stay the exact dates of my booking. The hotel staff understandably assumed he was me!
In August 2004, I visited Sydney on holidays, with the main objective to see a restored Julius tote working at the Powerhouse Museum. One day my wife Narelle and I went to the Northern Suburbs Memorial Gardens and Crematorium to visit her mother's memorial plaque. On the way we passed the old Channel 10 premises between the Epping highway and Delhi road. I worked there for several years in the mid 1970s. Immediately after completing my nostalgic look at my old workplace, I noticed the street sign on the next street running down the eastern side of the building. It was Julius Avenue. Earlier this year, I received an email from Kevin Shaw, from the Ryde District Historical Society, informing me that there was a Julius Avenue named after George Julius in the Riverside Corporate Park. I had no idea that the Corporate Park was next to my old workplace where I had worked for years next to George Julius' memorial avenue. Additionally, whilst Narelle was looking at her mother's plaque, she noticed that one of the neighbouring plaques was a Julius.
Having mentioned Channel 10, I will digress a little further. The following photos are of an ACR25 Tape control unit and the associated Tape Transport unit. These two photos are parts of one videotape machine which had two tape transports visible in the right hand photo. The right hand tape transport vacuum column door is open and the left hand door is shut. The ACR25 could handle a complete commercial break on its own by playing one commercial on one transport whilst loading the next commercial in the other transport and switching to it when the previous commercial was over. I worked at Channel 10 in Videotape Maintenance on this and other models of Ampex videotape machines like the AVR1, AVR2 VR1200 and VR2000. These were the most complex machines I have ever worked on. If it had not been for the interesting computer hardware becoming popular at the time I would have stayed at Channel 10. These machines embraced an amazing diversity of electronics applications from digital electronics to very complex analogue servo systems, Radio Frequency circuitry, video and audio systems, automation systems... These are not the helical scan video tapes of today. They were Quad machines with 4 heads, mounted on a rotating drum, which ran at 250 cycles per second, on an air bearing to minimise time base jitter. The head units are clearly visible in the right hand image particularly the right hand tape transport with the door open where it appears as a vertically mounted light coloured oblong object on a black background. The recording was made more across the tape than along it with the actual tracks being the vector resolution of the head travelling across the tape and the capstan pulling the tape under the head. There was a tape guide with a suction line applied to it that caused an indentation in the moving tape as it passed the rotating head. The video tape media was 2 inches wide. I am going to stop this techno-babble before I go completely off track. Only two more non technical recollections of the videotape department at Channel 10 before moving on. Firstly, this videotape medium was very strong. When the Supervising Technician of videotapes Les got married his peers wrapped his car up in videotape. I did not see this event however I believe it was quite some feat for him to retrieve the use of his car. Secondly, although there were interlocks in the videotape machines to stop the tape heads from being operated when there was no compressed air to provide the bearing, there always seemed to be operators who could achieve this from time to time. The result was a fatally damaged head and this was considered a cardinal sin for videotape operators.
|An Ampex ACR25 VTR|
March 2008. I have been reading the ABC "Australian Story" transcript on Wendy Whiteley from Monday 6 September 2004. Wendy is George Julius' granddaughter. There is a link to this titled Wendy Whiteley in the George Julius Genealogy page. The transcript states that in 1965 Wendy and her husband Brett lived at Whale Beach on which her daughter Arkie learnt to walk. I arrived in Australia in 1964 to attend boarding school. I stayed with friends of my parents for a week prior to being delivered to boarding school. I was picked up from the airport and taken to their home, the first place I stayed in Australia, you guessed it, Whale Beach.
It does not stop! Still March 2008. Brett Whiteley mentioned above was born in Longueville Sydney. His first studio was in the house he grew up in at Lucretia Avenue in Longueville. When my parents moved to Australia from Hong Kong I was taken out of boarding school to live in their new home at Northwood. I continued as a student at the same school as a day boy. Northwood is a neighbouring suburb to Longueville. Again I was surprised when I looked at a map to see where Lucretia Avenue was. It was a place I had visited more often than anywhere else in the suburb. You have to go down this street to get to Dunois Street. My parents and I often visited this street to go for a walk as it had terrific views of Woodford Bay. I used to ride my bicycle to this location. I bought my first motorcycle whilst living at Northwood and frequented this area even more. I had a friend from school Rod who lived nearby and I used to traverse Lucretia Ave to visit him. He too was in the process of purchasing his first motorcycle. When we moved to Gordon and after my grandparents moved to Australia we used to take them there for walks. In addition later when I bought a VJ sailing boat Narelle and I used to launch it in Woodford Bay from Dunois Street requiring passage down Lucretia Ave. I do recall a house in Lucretia Ave with a business sign outside, it could well have been Brett's Studio. He attended Scots College in Bellevue Hill starting in 1954. I attended Cranbrook in Bellevue Hill just down the road starting in 1964. His birthday is 7th April, mine 1st April. Oh and George Julius was born in April also.
June 2008. I have just read an old boys magazine from my old school in Sydney. The archivist is looking for informal photographs of boarding school life in Street House when it was located in a mansion called Leura. When I rummaged through my collection of photographs from this early era of my life, dragging out an old archive tin which would hardly see daylight in a given decade, I discovered an enigma. I found a slide of the St. Ledger Stand at Eagle Farm. The photo predates my knowledge of this stand as there is no evidence of a large fig tree which now reaches the top of the flag poles which are the highest points on this large stand. From the location where this photograph was taken this fig tree now obscures a major section of the Western end of the stand. Neither my wife nor I have any knowledge of this photograph or how it came to be in this archive. I did not create this photograph. I recognise every other photo in this archive. My interest in totalisator history only began about 20 years after the rest of the photos in this tin became archived. Additionally, I can identify the source of every photo in my totalisator history collection. I would not have been particularly interested in this photograph anyway as it has nothing to do with totalisators. If I had been presented with it prior to starting work at Automatic Totalisators I would not have attributed any significance to it. If I had received it after acquiring an interest in totalisator history I would have found it irrelevant. Even now I find it unremarkable except for one thing. Somehow I came to possess a photograph which showed me where I would spend 30 years of working life to date. I have installed and dismantled temporary totes for carnival meetings underneath this stand and done the same in tents outside the front of this stand for 3 decades. Our office, maintenance facility and computer room has existed in the adjacent building for most of this time and a Julius tote has remained in this adjacent building all of this time. This Julius tote has recently been incorporated in the new Eagle Farm racing museum. At one stage I used to have a warm lunch under this stand when a servery provided this facility during race days. At the Tattersalls meeting at Eagle Farm held on 21/6/2008, I confirmed without a doubt that the photograph was of the St. Ledger Stand. That night my wife had rented a DVD of The Celestine Prophecy. I was taken by the passage that appears right at the beginning. "Look not from the mind, but from the soul. For the life that is coming is already before us, waiting to open up the world. Just look more closely. Find the eyes to see. From the First Insight". It appears that I have not been looking closely enough!
The Western view from Street House in 1964
July 2008. I have now had the Street House slides mentioned in the previous paragraph converted to JPEG files. I have discovered another connection with totalisator history that I was not aware of till now, which existed since the start of my time at boarding school. One of the converted slides is a view taken from Street House looking west towards the city shown above. It looks over Double Bay and has the Harbour Bridge in plain view. I was astonished to notice that the Opera House construction site is visible, in particular the large cranes near the Southern pylon of the bridge. I have confirmed this by magnifying that area of the original JPEG file. This photograph was taken in 1964 and I had no idea the Opera House construction began this early. This was the year I arrived in Australia and I often looked at this magnificent view of the city. I never realised I was looking at the Opera House being constructed. I have researched this and found George Julius' company Julius Poole and Gibson had been working at this site for about 6 months at that time. I have been unaware till now that embedded in this view was the construction of a workplace where I would start approximately 8 years later. Not only was this a view of the future but also of the past, something I would not become aware of for decades. George Julius used to live at Rushcutters Bay which is the next bay in the photograph after Double Bay towards the harbour bridge. I have mentioned a connection with another of George Julius' domiciles above, at Ocean Sreet Woollahra, which has relevance to this photograph. Heading north, Ocean Street runs into Ocean Avenue after crossing New South Head road which then reaches the beach at Double Bay at a location hidden by the bushes on the left hand side of this photograph. Finally, for those interested in numerology this photograph was taken in 1964 and George passed away in 1946.
Having touched on the subject of school life, one of the most remarkable events of this year, 1964, was my introduction to the Melbourne Cup. I have a description of this in the introduction to this website on the index page. I could not believe other students who were telling me that classes would be interrupted to listen to something called a horse race, the Melbourne Cup. Furthermore I was introduced to the concept of a sweep, something that just fuelled the impression that this was all an elaborate hoax. After all this came to fruition, the final amazing event was that for someone who is not lucky in games of chance, I ended up winning the sweep with a horse that I had been told had no chance of winning, Polo Prince. This was my introduction to an event that I had no idea would become such a prominent part of my life. I have spent decades in the totalisator industry with the Melbourne Cup being one of the two, often overwhelming annual hurdles, providing major additional temporary totalisator facilities on racetracks.
Nancarrow Avenue in front of Factory
30 July 2008. On my way home today, I heard a person talking on the radio with the name of Nancarrow. This attracted my attention as Nancarrow Avenue is the location of the last Automatic Totalisators head office and factory shown above. This was my head office for a decade and a half. It never occurred to me that Nancarrow was a family name and that there were Nancarrows in Australia. Nancarrow Avenue did not exist when George Julius built his factory. At that time there were only orchards in the area. I decided to Google Nancarrow to see if there was anything interesting about the name, as Nancarrow Avenue came into existance after the factory was built. The result was quite unexpected. The very first reference the search engine provided for Nancarrow was Conlon Nancarrow. This surprised me as it linked Nancarrow with my surname Conlon. Conlon and Nancarrow are not common names and Conlon Nancarrow does not seem to be a person's name at all but two surnames, however it does link my name with something to do with totalisator history. I have never seen Conlon used as a Christian name. I wonder what the probability of finding a name like this would be, definitely a lot closer to zero than one. Yet Conlon Nancarrow was a person, an experimentalist composer writing music which had to be played on player pianos as it was so complex and fast it was beyond the capabilities of pianists. Add to this the probability against him being someone that warranted people writing about him and presenting this information on the Internet and a search engine rating one of these pages as the number one response for the Nancarrow keyword search and the fact that I initiated this search when these conditions existed, makes me wonder what it means other than yet another abstract connection between myself and totalisator history.
August 2008. I have come across a Web page connection between Awdry Julius, George's son and Railway Avenue Wahroonga. My wife to be and I used to pick her father up from Wahroonga station when he was returning from work in the first half of the 1970s. We often parked in Railway Avenue to wait for his train to arrive. I have since learnt that Awdry used to live in Wahroonga. Awdry was still a director with Automatic Totalisators when I joined the company in December 1977.
Also in August 2008, whilst in Sydney, I took some photographs of Culwulla Chambers in Catlereagh Street one of which appears in the Sir George Julius chapter of this website. This building was the premises of George's engineering consulting company Julius Poole and Gibson from 1913 to 1971. It is now occupied by Barrister's Rooms called Culwulla Chambers. These were established on 1st April 1985. The 1st of April is my birth date and in 1985 my younger son Ian, who helped with writing the HTML for this website, was born. Although Julius Poole and Gibson moved to St Leonards in 1971 after 58 years in Culwulla Chambers, the building still seems to provide totalisator history coincidence with me.
After attending a school reunion in July 2008 I discovered that the school's new Internet Portal was supplied by a company called Praxa. They have their Sydney office in Julius Avenue mentioned above. Apart from being located in a street named after the person who invented the world's first automatic totalisator they have an additional association with totalisators by having Unitab as one of their customers as well as my old school.
I have mentioned Julius Avenue above. There is another Julius memorial street name. It is Julius Road in Canberra on Black Mountain. I present this more as a statement of historical interest than a coincidence. I do have a brother in law in Canberra and I used to fly friends down to Canberra at night from Sydney to have tea and return the same evening. This oddly became rather popular as it was quite unusual to say I had tea last night in another city. I have been a regular visitor to Canberra and have certainly seen Black Mountain on multiple occasions particularly from the air.
The following entry is just an odd occurrence however in totality it seems to be part of the same thing. I wrote about a 1970s television series called Monkey Magic in the Kota Kinabalu chapter of this website. This is something that no one I have spoken to recently recalls. This page is a fairly recent addition to the web site. On the 19th of August 2008 I was attracted to an ABC program called Foreign Correspondent as the subject of that night's program was the safety of aviation in New Guinea, a subject I have long been interested in. This fascinating insight consumed half the program and as I was about to turn the TV off I heard the subject for the second half of the program. I could not believe it, the subject was Monkey Magic, suddenly come out of the blue, to coincide with my having just recently thought about it, in relation to this web site and not having heard anything about it for something in the order of 30 years, except for the conversation described in the Kota Kinabalu chapter and that was almost a quarter of a century ago. Evidently the novel it is based on, Journey To The West, is one of China's leading pieces of literature and there is a resurgence of interest in it and it looks like there is going to be a new TV series.
March 2009, I have included a couple of extracts from some emails from John Reid about the above two paragraphs. I was informed that John, his father and I share the same birthday, we lived in the same suburb Northwood starting the same year and share an interest in the above history. I was browsing on some information on Brett Whiteley and came across your web page, enjoyed it thanks! My birthday is 1st April too and I grew up in Northwood, I was great friends with the son of WE Pidgeon who was an artist of Northwood and I believe a bit of a mentor for the young Brett Whiteley.
And in reply to my response. Yes 2 april fools and my dad is also one! We lived in point rd in northwood from 1965, my parents left there around 2000. Yes the Whiteley story is very tragic, I remember Arkie quite well as went to a few parties of hers around the late 70s I think. Apparently Brett Whiteley lived in our house when he was a boy for a little while, (ill have to ask my dad for the detail on that). I noted your various comments on synchronity and co incidence so thought the Northwood and birth date connection would interest you.
And in reply to another response. I probably walked past your place many times on my way from school or the northwood shops, what period did you live in northwood for?
Shortly after having posted John's email here I received another email from Gavin Oughton, an extract follows. I see a reference to WE Pigeon and Brett Whitely. I was raised at 82 Northwood road Northwood, and I knew WE (Bill ) Pigeon well. In fact he drew a watercolour of me on a bike which I am looking at now as I type. I was about 10 then, and I'm 52 now! It is true Whitely was a "student" of sorts of Bill's. Bill used to love the Longueville pub at Lane Cove. Lloyd Rees lived in Northwood too Great place to grow up in. I was at Brett Whitely's wake at Lucretia Ave. Bill had already died, and Dorothy, his lovely wife was there with us Wish I was still there. ... Excellent effort here. Well done Gavin Oughton
And the synchronicity continues, after I put John and Gavin in touch with each other it turns out they knew each other in Northwood.
Of course the greatest link to this history is that I worked for Automatic Totalisators, George's company from 1977 till its demise. I continued to work at the Brisbane racetracks for most of my working life alongside the remnants of totalisator equipment from George's era.
Also in March 2009, I was sent an image of Churchill Julius, George's father, on the occasion of his first experience aloft in an aircraft. The photograph was taken in 1930 and the pilot was Francis Chichester, later Sir Francis, also in the image. I did not initially take much notice of the airfield which was Wigram in New Zealand. Eventually curiosity got the better of me and I searched the Internet for Wigram and when I discovered the Air Force Museum Christchurch was at Wigram airfield I realised I had recently been there.
In April 2009 I was sent an email from an ex employee of Jtec the company that occupied the old ATL Head Quarters after ATL vacated it. The email tied two of the items mentioned above together. I worked in the television industry, with the ACR25 photographs above showing one of the machines I worked on at Channel 10, prior to working for ATL, initially in the ATL Head Quarters and factory shown in the Nancarrow Avenue photograph on this page. The television industry has now come to the old ATL Headquarters. The email informed me that a television series called Swift and Shift Couriers is now filmed at these premises. Since this email other ex ATL employees and I have seen episodes of this program and recognised locations in the old ATL premises.
Alan Rose was a totalisator engineer and project manager with ATL and mentioned in other parts of this website and who incidentally is a fan of Swift and Shift Couriers mentioned in the previous paragraph. I received a phone call from him in the evening of 21/11/2009. Alan was visiting a friend in Sydney and had been talking to Ian, a friend of this friend. Alan and Ian found they had something in common, knowledge of electromechanical shaft adders and Automatic Totalisators. Inevitably my name came up resulting in the abovementioned phone call. Alan introduced Ian to me on the phone and Ian informed me his name was Ian Bryce. I immediately recognised the name. Ian had emailed me in 2001 and we then engaged in an email discussion of totalisator history. Ian now asked me about restoring an electromechanical shaft adder he had in his possession. I had forgotten I had donated it to him. It took 9 years from the time we had emailed and I had donated the adder, to get to talk to each other through this unlikely coincidence. There is an extract from Ian’s original communication in the Accolades section of this website. I recall being impressed by someone working in the aerospace industry finding such an interest in the origins of computing and in particular totalisator history.
In December 2009, I was asked when the Julius tote started operating at Ipswich. I indicated that I was not sure however I knew exactly when it ceased operating which was 1979 as I worked on the computer totes that replaced it. As if in answer to this question, I received an email shortly after from Rod Richards, who had contacted me long prior regarding totalisator history and Automatic Totalisators as Rod had worked for the company in years pre-dating mine. I now was made aware that Rod had actually worked on the installation of the Ipswich Julius tote and not only could remember when it was installed but had kept the opening day racebook for 60 years along with a newspaper clipping relating to opening day. I have since donated a shaft adder from this system to Rod. Ironic that it is being sent to the person who installed it in the first place 60 years prior! The original question came from the Ipswich Turf Club and I have also donated a shaft adder to them to commemorate their 150 year celebration in 2010.
The racebook image that Rod Richards sent me
I had an email from Peter at Stanford University in 2000 who was interested in using extracts from this website in his doctoral thesis. In 2008 I discovered someone had provided a domain name of georgejulius.com which pointed to this website, something I am grateful for. In late 2009 I discovered that the company Julius Finance had been named after George Julius and used the georgejulius.com domain name on their website. I then wrote to some who share my interest in the subject of totalisator history and informed them that a company had been named after Sir George Julius. In the email I thought I had sent a link to the Advisory Committee page of the Julius Finance website where it states that it is named after Sir George. At this stage I knew the company had opened a new office in New York. When I received a reply to my email I noticed I had not sent the link I thought I had and sent a link I had not even seen instead. The link I sent was to the Julius Finance locations page. A curious circumstance to bring it to my attention! When I looked at the locations page I could not believe Julius Finance had an office in Australia, not only Australia but Sydney and of all the suburbs in Sydney the office was at Double Bay. The photo presented above, taken from Street House where I viewed my future workplace related to George being constructed, as described above, also clearly shows Double Bay. Double Bay is the nearest water in the photo when looking at the left pylon of the Harbour Bridge, which has the suburb of Double Bay next to it. This is where Julius Finance a company named after George has located its office some 45 years after the photo was taken! An additional irony is that the namesake of this company lived at two neighbouring locations as mentioned previously on this page at Woollahra and Rushcutters Bay.
On the 29th of August 2009 I received an email from Dermot Elworthy, George Julius' great nephew. We share many common interests including steam engines. Dermot made reference to this subject in his email Talking of trains - which we weren't - a few weeks back I went on a local train drawn by "Tornado". I don't know if news of this thing reached Oz but "Tornado" is an A1 Peppercorn-designed engine only recently completed as a brand new loco. It was exquisitely built over about five years at a cost of three million GBP (my American computer won't do pound symbols) and is now earning its keep hauling passenger traffic on nostalgia and enthusiast lines . I discovered on the Internet that Tornado is a Pacific class engine.
On the 13th of September, I made a discovery and wrote back to Dermot to relate it. I am finding that life is becoming full of synchronicity events. You were writing about the A4 Pacifics in this email. All the time I have been thinking about them after you wrote, a plate has been in the same room as my computer where I have written about them to you. The plate is a Royal Doulton collectors plate with the painting of a steam engine on it. It is "The South Yorkshireman" and I just noticed that it had the class A4 under the engine number on the engine painting. I looked on the back of the plate and it has the inscription "The streamlined LNER Pacific No.4498, Sir Nigel Gresley, named after her designer, represents the final development of his express locomotive design. Sister engine No. 4468 Mallard holds the world speed record for steam locomotive at 126 mph." I did not immediately recognise it because of the streamlining.
I did not place this event on this website at the time as I did not think it was particularly related to this website apart from Dermot's family connection with George. In January 2010 I discovered a model steam engine in the Powerhouse Museum's archive. On the Powerhouse Museum's website it states the model was made by Sir George Julius and that it is a Pacific Class engine! That did it and here it is!
I have also placed a link, in the links to other pages chapter of this website, to the Powerhouse Museum's website page that records this model steam locomotive.
Coincidence regarding this model continues... In December 2010 I was communicating with Brian Campbell from Sydney University who contacted me about the retirement of Prof Trevor Cole and Brian's inheriting custodianship of the Julius Tote Shaft Adder I had donated long ago. I made reference to the Powerhouse Museum in my reply and Brian wrote back indicating that it was a strange coincidence I had referred to the Powerhouse Museum as he had just read the Summer 10/11 edition of the Museum's Powerline magazine. He indicated there is an article in this magazine on page 5 relating the return to Broken Hill of a model Pacific Class Locomotive made by Sir George Julius in 1932 which was lent to Broken Hill TAFE in 1957 which was recalled in 1987 to be refurbished.
On the 10th of August 2011, I received an email from Charles Norrie, the Northern Hemisphere expert on George Julius and his totalisators. He wrote a comment about George Julius that constituted a connection to one of my family members. Charles wrote When I came to Aus, 20 years ago now, the Adelaide O-bahn (you use the original German) was a highlight of the trip as were the Melbourne trams, the Skytube and the Blue Mountains Railway as well as a trip on the railways of W Australia by steam train, passing through Midland where GAJ was employed in the design office. GAJ in this sentence refers to George Alfred Julius. At the time of this email I had already written about Midland in the chapter George Julius Genealogy and other latterday interest under the heading A Trip to Perth March 2011 . Midland in Perth, is where my elder son Paul is employed as a software engineer. It is also the location of the now closed racetrack Helena Vale where George's company Auomatic Totalisators used to operate a totalisator system. Charles' comment here refers to a prior connection to George, as George worked for the West Australian Government Railroads prior to him founding the Australian companies Julius Poole and Gibson and Automatic Totalisators. According to Charles, George worked in Midland whilst in this position. An additional connection between Paul and this history is that Paul used to work part time for Automatic Totalisators and helped with cleaning many Julius Tote Shaft Adders in preparation for donation to museums and educational institutions.
On the 14th of June 2013, I received an email from Richard Irwin. He was writing regarding my inclusion of a US patent in the Automatic Totalisators in America chapter of this website, which includes his grandfather Frederick Wilkinson as a co-inventor with George Julius of a Ticket Issuing Machine. Richard states in the email that he works in Gordon, yet another link between this history and Gordon mentioned previously on this page. Following are the first 3 paragraphs from this email.
Thanks again for writing to me and also a big THANK YOU for including me (most importantly) and My Grandfather Frederick (almost as important...Ha ha) in your website.
If I can find any more info on F A Wilkinson I will gladly send it to you.
It is a coincidence that you used to live in Gordon, I currently work in Gordon (773 Pacific Hwy - Opposite the Gordon Centre) So I have very possibly driven or walked past where you used to live whilst getting to and from work.
In August 2013 I stumbled onto yet another coincidence. They have now touched the next generation. My son Paul works as a C++ programmer for a company called Electromagnetic Imaging Technology that develops instrumentation and software for geophysical applications. I have known George Julius' great grandson, Tony Shellshear for several years. I knew he was a programmer perpetuating his great grandfather's technology bent. I recently noticed that he is the Principal of a company called Geological Data Design which provides geological and mining data management services to the mining sector. This company too not only develops software in the same specialist field but also utilises the same programming language C++ along with C Sharp.
August 2013, it is amazing how you do not notice until you slow down. I have just had a casual look at an American Patent I added earlier this year to the Automatic Totalisators in America chapter. This patent was granted on the 24th December. This is my mother's birth date and month.
September 2013, it appears that I am not the only one noticing coincidences to do with this history. Dermot Elworthy, George Julius' great nephew wrote the following:
The strange coincidences which seem to keep attending this subject continue. On my way from Miami to Ft Lauderdale, I attended a friend's 30th wedding anniversary in Aventura, about half way between the two places. By strange happenstance, I met a fellow called Tony (I think that was his name - it was getting late in the evening!) who told me his late father had something to do with the maintenance of the Tote at Hialeah which is more or less next door. Is that a curious thing or what? Sadly, he wasn't able to provide much in the way of detail but I thought it remarkable that having lived so close to the racecourse for so many years and having no interest in the place nor knowledge of there being a totalisator there, out of the blue and quite unexpectedly I meet this chap.
December 2013, it is amazing what obscure connections pop up. I mentioned my old school in Sydney above. One of my classmates used to call me The Mighty Quinn. I had no idea what it was supposed to mean and I never bothered to ask. I presumed it was related to the song Mighty Quinn, or Quinn the Eskimo which Manfred Mann made popular at the time and I could not see what relevance that had to me. I am familiar with the popular opinion that this song was inspired by an Anthony Quinn movie in which he played an Eskimo. I would never have believed this almost forgotten little piece of my history could be thought of as being connected to totalisator history. I recently read an Internet Forum thread discussing Betfair Quinellas. There were several references to the song made and a suggestion, probably in jest, that Bob Dylan wrote this song after Wendy Whiteley showed him Harold Park, on a visit to Sydney, where her Grandfather's tote was in operation implementing what might have been the world's first Quinella pool. Even if there is no truth in this, I find it amazing that anyone at all has come up with a connection between a trivial school nickname of mine and the industry that I would spend most of my working life in.
June 2014. I have had a long standing interest in the Old Tote Theatre in Sydney. I recall seeing a play there in the early 1970s and at the time, I had no idea what a Tote was. As a result of this, I discovered what a totalisator or tote was. At the latter end of my career whilst working on the Brisbane tracks, I noted that Randwick operations sometimes took place at a track called Kensington which I recalled was related to the Old Tote Theatre area. On the 16th of June 2014 I received an email from Neville Mitchell regarding a historic photograph of the Randwick Flat. This photograph showed the area where the Old Tote Theatre exists. In this email Neville informed me that it had a new name the Fig Tree Theatre. The name Fig Tree has special significance to me. At the time of reading this piece of information regarding the new theatre name of Fig Tree, I was visiting my mother's old house which is located in a street of the same name. I had not visited this house for months and just when I did I received the information that connects it to totalisator history and memories of mine!
August 2014. We are on holiday in Melbourne. Coincidences have been rampant during this visit. Prior to arriving in Melbourne, we planned several meetings. One was a reunion with two ex ATL employees Peter Nelson and Harry Lane. Peter I had worked with in Kota Kinabalu and Harry I was well aware of as an iconic ATL manager, but had never met. Peter Crozier and David Ferrier also attended. Another meeting was with a curator of the Monash Museum of Computing History. The only connection between these two events was the subject of totalisator history as I had donated a tote artefact to the Museum. We had nothing to do with setting either agenda. The reunion with the ex ATL staff was proposed to be at a venue in the city and was changed to Caulfield Racetrack and a date was set. We then received news that the Museum venue was at the Monash University campus at Caulfield and the date was set to the day following the visit to Caulfield Racecourse. We thought it quite unusual that these events ended up on consecutive days in the same suburb, but we further discovered that the Monash University campus is across the road from Caulfied Racecourse, which made them not only on consecutive days, but next door to each other as well. I ended up taking an aerial view photograph of the Caulfield racetrack where I had been the previous day from the top of the Monash University's car park. Of all the disparate places and times these meetings could have been, I thought this was beyond the realms of probability. In the decades I have worked in the totalisator industry I had not been to Caulfield nor had anything to do with it and now I have had a lot to do with it in two consecutive days.
On the second day mentioned above after having had a wonderful time at both venues, Just in case I had not got the message that Caulfield was significant I received an email from Neville Mitchell who recognised the person and place associated with one of the photographs in the photo gallery of this website with a man showing the reader part of a paper-tape reader which is part of a Doubles totalisator system. A thumbnail of this image is shown above in the directory of the photo gallery. Neville identified the person in it as Don Hardie and indicated this equipment had its debut on Caulfield Racetrack in 1955. Additionally, the Monash Museum of Computing History had a strong focus on Digital Equipment Corporation's equipment, which brought back many memories for me as Automatic Totalisators based their computer totes on the minicomputers from this company.
Whilst in Melbourne, I received an email from the Victoria Racing Club's Art and Heritage Curator Tanya Williams, who was very helpful last year identifying a photograph of mine as being taken at Flemington Racecourse decades ago. She was interested in acquiring high resolution copies of this and another couple of photographs on this website. She mentioned that if I was Melbourne based, we could meet. The last time I was in Melbourne was 14 years prior and yet I am asked if I am Melbourne based shortly after I arrived in the city after all this time. Consequently, despite the fact that I live two states away, we could arrange a meeting. Ironically this meeting was eventually arranged at Flemington and this constituted my second visit there during this holiday as I had already been there meeting with two other ex work colleagues. On the first trip I stood in the room that was the Julius Tote machine room, where George Julius stood inspecting the installation in 1931, in a photograph that is shown in the Melbourne Cup chapter of this website.
Still on holiday, now in Canberra. We visited the War Memorial. I stood under a magnificent exhibit, a Mosquito fighter/bomber overhanging from an upper viewing level. This is one of my favourite aircraft. The tour guide asked if anyone knew what it was made of. I replied wood and he confirmed this was correct and continued to speak about it. What I had no idea about was that I had a connection with this aircraft. I knew Automatic Totalisators, a company for which I worked had performed manufacturing for the war effort. I also knew that the company had manufactured parts for aircraft. Shortly after this experience, I chanced upon an interview with Danny Alexander, who was an apprentice with Automatic Totalisators during world war two. He related working on a part for the Mosquito aircraft. I was standing under an aircraft which had parts manufactured for it by a company that I spent many years with, albeit long after the Mosquito was being produced. An extract from Bill Bottomley's interview with Danny Alexander can be read here below the image of the Chalmers Street Factory where Danny worked.
I have already related some schoolboy synchronicity with this history and here is another event. Whilst in Melbourne Narelle and I stumbled onto CSIRAC in the Melbourne Museum. This is the only intact first generation computer left in the world and was the fourth or fifth electronic computer in the world. This was a delight, as I was aware that parts of it had been saved but I had no idea all of it was preserved. I wrote about it to a good school friend David Hosking. We had stayed at each other's family homes when we were schoolboys and I knew his parents well. David informed me that his father used to work for the Commonwealth Government as a supervising engineer, and that he had some involvement with CSIRAC. I had no prior knowledge of this. This has a connection to totalisator history. This computer was designed and built by the CSIR which became the CSIRO. The first chairman of the CSIR was George Julius, the inventor of the world's first automatic totalisator. Furthermore, the first meetings of the CSIR were held in a back office of Julius Poole and Gibson which was George's engineering consulting company. Another link between CSIRAC and George Julius is a speech on mechanical calculation given by George at a Sydney high school, which provided an inspirational spark to one of the students, David Myers, leading him into a career with the CSIRO where he became a chief computer scientist and a driving force in the development of CSIRAC. It could be said that George Julius lit the metaphorical intellectual fires, that produced CSIRAC. I thought it was coincidence enough that I stumbled onto CSIRAC however finding I had another schoolboy connection to this history was amazing. Later, during this holiday Narelle and I had a wonderful reunion with David and met his wife Lynn in Sydney. David's father had some connection with the CSIRO building at Sydney University. David later did a computer science degree at Sydney University which led to a career in information technology. He wrote the following about a calculator that probably inspired his interest in computing: I used to be fascinated, by his calculator at work when we went there in the mid to late 1950’s, as a very young child... not a computer but impressive... it was the size of a large desktop and entirely mechanical but driven by an electric motor. He'd set it to perform some function and it would step through it with steps three or four times a second... which probably means it was a three or four FLOPS calculator. I don’t recall any paper tape or cards but I guess there must have been something like that for non-recurring functions... but it had no logic. He'd set it to keep adding one to the previous total and let us watch it until we got bored. This calculator David mentions brings to mind George Julius as it is another example of mechanical computing being applied in industry.
David estimates the calculator has a performance of 4 FLOPS. Here comes a little diversion to observe an example of progress. When I spoke with David, I informed him Fujitsu had the fastest computer on the planet in 2010, called the K1. It is a massively parallel supercomputer and it broke the 10 PETAFLOP boundary! It took a little over 55 years to go from 4 FLOPS to over 10 PetaFLOPS. To bring this back to totalisators and having mentioned Fujitsu, I will mention they have a large Totalisator Division. And there's more! In 2013 I arranged an itinerary and met with two ex Fujitsu engineers from Japan who were writing a book on the history of the totalisator in Japan and wanted to include some wider totalisator history and hence were intensely interested in the Julius Totes. I gave them a talk on the Julius tote in the Eagle Farm Racing Museum, a machine they found fascinating.
David informed me that he was not sure if his father's involvement with CSIRAC was using the computer to develop engineering tables or if he was doing something with the actual construction engineering associated with housing the computer. David also wrote: you punched your program on cards, ran it overnight, got the printout, debugged it by replacing the relevant punch cards, overnight again ... etc. until it worked. It taught you to program carefully as you might not have time to debug a program before it was due! Its replacement was considered a supercomputer ... a Control Data Cyber 72, which had a few hundred thousand 60 bit words of memory (the bytes weren’t fixed at 8 bits then ... and one character was not equivalent to one byte... that all came later). We ran FORTRAN, COBOL, BASIC and other higher level languages directly on to the CYBER 72 compiler, but we had to learn to program an assembly language and then translate it to bit level, so they chose the PDP11 assembly language for us to learn and emulated a PDP11 on the CYBER 72. In my student years, I recall a visit to see a mainframe computer, the Cyber 72 which was either the one David recalls or one at the University of NSW.
Here we have coincidence on top of coincidence. Max Sherrard, a Director of Julius Poole and Gibson, George Julius' engineering consulting company replied to an email of mine, sent in October 2014, relating the David Myers connection to George Julius and he replied with the following coincidence relating to David Myers mentioned in the previous segment: David Myers was Professor of electrical engineering when I went through Sydney Uni. As I was doing civil engineering we only had some elementary lectures in the electrical area.
Having mentioned the CSIRO in the previous entry, whilst in Sydney, Narelle and I stayed with very good friends of ours, Steve and Vicki Kavanagh. Steve, an electrical engineer, has a keen interest in mechanical engineering. He gave us a very interesting tour of his garage come machine shop. In it I discovered yet another connection with the CSIRO. Steve's uncle had worked for the Radiophysics Laboratory of the CSIRO. CSIRAC, previoiusly mentioned was created at the Radiophysics Laboratory. From Steve and Vicki's house there is a wonderful bush view and in the distance is yet another connection to the CSIRO, the CSIRO Riverside Corporate Park North Ryde which is particularly prominent at night with its illumination. Back to Steve's garage/machine shop, he showed us a device which I call a perplexing pondering machine. The following descriptions of this machine are off the topic of synchronicity however as it relates to a relative of Steve's and the CSIRO it seems appropriate to present it here. This device, is a mystery engine which Steve's Uncle built, to hide its form of locomotion, to baffle his colleagues at the CSIRO. It challenges the observer to determine which parts are driven and which parts do the driving. I found it intriguing. Obviously the intent of the engine worked on me as my rendition of its working was incorrect. I wrote the following which Steve later corrected:
It is constructed of bits and pieces and presents a form similar to a radial engine with three cylinders arranged in a circle separated by 120 degrees constructed of tin cans. Three piston rods connect to a crank-pin on what is intended to look like a flywheel but secretly is the rotor of an electric motor. A regulator, looking like the centrifugal governor on a steam engine is a variable speed controller. A series of nails bent to form an arc are attached side by side to the side of, and at 45 degrees to the vertical axis of an insulated can to form a band of parallel nails around it so as the can rotates during operation the nails provide a worm drive for the previously mentioned governor. I was so impressed I took a video of it in action.
Steve's accurate description of this follows:
The flywheel in the "perplexing pondering machine" is just that. I have referred to the thing as 'one of only two 3-cylinder electric engines in the World'. It is not the rotor of an electric motor in the normal sense and all the mechanism is in full view. The tin cans each contain electromagnet coils which are pulsed on with just the right timing to apply a force to the soft-iron plugs connected to the flywheel which is rotated by reciprocating action from the rods attached to the plugs. He deliberately made the tubes containing the plugs an obviously dreadful fit to further confound the viewers as it could obviously not be applying any fluid-pressure to the slugs to provide the motive force. You can see the sparking at the contacts switching the coils as the flywheel rotates. He drilled the flywheel in numerous places to provide precision balancing to prevent excessive shaft vibration at the high-speed end of its operating range – possibly as high as 200 rpm?
The worm-drive for the speed regulator was made out of the multi-strand steel wire from a clothesline (unravelled to cause the strands to project out and form the “worm”). The 'wheel' is formed from a whole lot of bent nails hammered into the side of a tin can. All of the precision gear-teeth were made by feeding a steel packing strip through the end gears of a lathe and soldering the strips around circular formers – crude, but very effective gearwheels. Part of the speed control was supposedly effected by current control - cooling of a wirewound resistor provided by a centrifugal fan driven by one of these gearwheels. Given that the resistor was never actually connected to anything, I presume this was just a bit more of his delightful humour playing with people. The fan was made out of scraps of steel sheet foil cut from other tin cans and soldered to a central driven shaft.
Obviously, his specification was that every bit of the machine had to be made out of complete junk and it was this point he was trying to make – that you do not need high-precision to make stuff work. This masterpiece made completely of 'junk' around 1945 still operates fine about 70 years later and it has never been repaired or maintained at all, having been stored in an environment including grinding, welding, drilling chips, lathe turnings, dust, cobwebs and things often falling on it in my workshop.
I fell for the non sequitur fallacy, concluding that, as the tin can cylinders were not the driving force for the engine as they could not contain internal combustion, they were not the driving force at all, which is wrong. In reality inside the cans the pistons were moved electromagnetically driving the engine. Steve mentions more of his uncle's delightful humour with the large resistor that was not wired up. Well I sure fell for that one too. When I looked inside the wooden assembly on which the engine is constructed I saw the large resistor and seeing the centrifugal cooling fan Steve mentioned, I presumed it was cooling the resistor and as a resistor of that size would have been selected for its ability to dissipate considerable power, when I put my hand in the airflow I thought it felt warm and I mentioned this to Steve. Wrong again, as the famous comedian Benny Hill said, When you ASSUME you make an ASS out of U and ME. Now that Steve has explained that the resistor is not electrically connected to anything, it is obvious that my perceived warm air was but a figment of my imagination.
And here we have another coincidence on top of coincidence, this time related to the Kavanaghs, again from Max Sherrard: Phil Kavanagh is president of our local beekeepers association, and by coincidence I am meeting him tonight to collect a box of bees.
I recently read a major part of the book Armed and Ready. Amongst other subjects it describes the contribution of the CSIR and the Munitions Board to Australia's preparedness for WW2. What I learnt in this book equipped me to immediately recognise what is inside a park we came across in Edgewater estate in Maribyrnong. Only the slightest strip of the apex part of the rooftop, of one of the two, near buried buildings, was visible within the blast containment mounds surrounding each one of them. I immediately thought it was a munitions plant or store. As soon as I had access to the Internet I discovered this was called Jacks Magazine. It is amazing what connections to totalisator history can be made. There is an additional connection in that Automatic Totalisators manufactured bomb sights during WW2.
September 2014. Still on holiday, now in Sydney. Synchronicity is going ballistic. We went to take some photographs of the old Automatic Totalisators Factory building in Chalmers Street near Central Station. We entered Chalmers Street at the southern end of it and drove north. We reached what I considered to be the vicinity of the factory and decided to take the first available parking spot on the street where it would not be too far to walk to the building. When we alighted and stood on the pavement, we noticed I had parked next to the main entrance door of the old factory building. I took copious photographs and noted that what I had seen on Google Street view was still evident, that some of the letters from the words Automatic Totalisators could just be discerned near the top of the building, on the side facing Chalmers Street, although the name had been painted over. I was reluctant to enter the posh decor shop, now occupying the ground floor of this building, as I had no intention of masquerading as a customer. Something urged me however, to enter the building and I decided to do that, just to have stood where so much company history had taken place. I resolved to explain my interest in the history of the building should I be confronted by a salesperson. I find summarising this history to disinterested people tedious. When I entered a staff member seated behind a long bench with computers on it asked if he could be of assistance. I started with the explanation that I was not a customer and my only interest was in the history of the building we were standing in. The reply was completely unexpected Yes this is a very historic building. From that moment, an intensely interesting conversation regarding totalisator history, dominated the shop till closing time. My newfound friend was well aware of Automatic Totalisators and knew of George Julius and was very keen to learn more about this history. I provided a quick introduction to this website. Even more amazing is that he had undertaken curatorial studies and no doubt this fired his interest in the machinery that Automatic Totalisators had designed and manufactured particularly in the building in which we were standing. One final coincidence was that when I showed him images of the White City Julius Tote he said he had recently moved to Australia from London and that he used to live nearby in Shepherds Bush.
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