This is the accolades page for 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. If you wish to start from the beginning then go to the index .
In August 2015 Chris Robertson sent me an email. Chris introduced himself in an email he sent in September 2001, which has an extract below. Chris used to be a professional punter and is the most informed punter I have ever met, on the subject of totalisator systems, their operation, totalisator companies and their history.
First off well done on all your work in preserving the history of the totalisator in this country, as well as in those places where ATL provided the technology and equipment for totalisator operations. Any recognition that comes your way is thoroughly deserved. I'm sure I'm not the only person who has enjoyed your guided tour through this underreported aspect of Australia's engineering past.
Prior to the Internet, which became the perfect medium for relating totalisator history, shaft adders were donated to musuems, historical societies, educational institutions and interested individuals, in an attempt to keep this history from disappearing. In 1993 I donated an electromechanical shaft adder, extracted from a Julius Tote, that used to operate at the Ipswich Turf Club, to the Queensland University of Technology, as an example of Australian engineering excellence. The staff at QUT built an impressive transparent display pedistal for the adder and it was put on display in the new IT building which is now known as S block. I was invited to and attended the opening ceremony conducted by the Governor-General Bill Hayden. As documentation brings exhibited machinery to life, I contacted QUT to inform them that since the donation, this website has been developed, which provides what has been called comprehensive information, relating to the history that their shaft adder represents.
In June 2015 Professor David Lovell, Head of School, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, Queensland University of Technology, wrote to me. Following is an extract:
I want to thank you for helping to preserve this important piece of engineering and computing history, and also for developing and curating information about its historical context here: http://members.ozemail.com.au/~bconlon/
I found your descriptions of these mechanical computing devices fascinating and I will endeavour to ensure that others are aware of this information.
In August 2015, after I requested approval to present extracts from his email here, Professor Lovell wrote:
I can tell you that we have indeed located the adder and that for the last three weeks it has been sitting in our common room.
I thought it would be interesting to find out what people might think this device is for and have put the question to staff in the attached slides.
I will let you know how this experiment evolves!
As for being quoted: absolutely! I’m genuinely grateful to you for what you have done to ensure this historical dimension of computing is preserved and communicated.
In June 2015, Cheryl Gribble, a computer educator and historian with a strong interest in Totalisator History sent me a very interesting email. Her website hitmill.com has brought many visitors to this site. Following are a couple of extracts from her email:
What a delight to hear from you and learn of your retirement and your continued interest in the Totalisators, and the history of computing. You surely have a wonderful repository of information on this, that I need to get linked into the History of Computing. Never before has anyone given me such fine information on the history of the Totalisators in Australia and their applications, than you have. I am surely indebted to you for all this fine information and I thank you immensely, and would like information to use this text in a document unless you would prefer to provide me with a PDF document to which I could link to online from the History of Computers index.
I still have the information you previous have sent to me. This is the first time I saw the PDP 8's tied in to it.
Write to me at any time, Brian, as it is always such a joy to hear from you.
With happiness and gratitude.
PS - Send me your impressions of the meeting and Museum you will be attending later this month. I look forward to hearing about it.
In October 2014, I received an email from Russell Graham, an ex ATL Software Manager and Project Manager. He wrote the following response to an email pointing out the latest additions to this website resulting from a visit to Melbourne and Sydney:
I just got around to reading this.
This is fascinating stuff. Thanks for playing detective and sharing the outcomes.Remember to give me a call next time you “… pass through Sydney”!
In October 2014, I received an email from Graeme Twycross, an ex ATL engineer in Melbourne. He wrote the following response to an email pointing out the latest additions to this website as above:
Certainly a good read. You are doing tremendous work in gathering all the artefacts for posterity.
In September 2014, I received an email from Ricky Lau, who I met in Spence & Lyda, the shop now occupying the ground floor of the building that used to be the Automatic Totalisators factory at Chalmers Street in Sydney. It was very fortunate for me to meet someone so interested in history and in particular the history of this building. Ricky mentioned he had undertaken curatorial studies and in this email wrote that he used to conduct educational tours at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London. Following is an extract from Ricky's email:
It is of great pleasure reading your message and enlightened by your discursive knowledge and passion. The more I read about your blog, it seems like I am transported to another era, another epoch. It is a testament of how ephemeral we are.
In September 2014, I received an email from Liam Norris, Manager Broadcast Services of GreayhoundsWA. He refers to a special feature of the Automatic Totalisators, Cannington Greyhounds installation, which is the " showcase " computer room, designed to give the public a view of the computer totalisator system in operation, documented in the Tote Topics chapter of this website. An extract follows:
I stumbled across your totalisator website today and found it fascinating.
I've worked for Greyhounds WA since the late 1980s. For the last 20 years or so my office has been (and I quote) the " showcase " computer room you mention in your article.
In September 2014, Matthew Connell, Principal Curator at the Powerhouse Museum in Sydney wrote the following regarding my findings relating to the old Automatic Totalisators factory that I discovered was still standing in Chalmers Street not far from the Powerhouse Museum.
I am just rereading the email below and Ive been back to the one about confirming the Chalmers Street Factory building. You are having all the fun! Beautiful investigative research.
In August 2014 Narelle and I had a meeting with Tanya Williams, the Victorian Racing Club's Art and Heritage Curator and two members of The Australian Racing Museum regarding totalisator history. Tanya made the following comments in three emails.
The website has some fascinating material.
If you are based in Melbourne perhaps we could set up a meeting sometime? During the ensuing meeting, Tanya mentioned that this website is very comprehensive.
Thank you so much for taking the time to meet at Flemington yesterday, it was lovely to meet you and Narelle and fascinating to get a glimpse into your in-depth knowledge of the Totalisator.
Thank you so much for the additional information you have sent through, I did have the chance to view some of the video and do further reading and it was incredibly interesting.
On 31st July 2014, Max Sherrard, a company director of Julius Poole & Gibson wrote the following email after viewing the upgrade of the Photo Gallery of this website.
Thank you Brian for keeping me in the loop. I read each of your articles with great interest, and incredulity at the research that they each represent. A visit to the tote museum (and Toowoomba) is truly on my “bucket list”
On 27th July 2014, Frank Matthews, the last senior partner of Julius Poole & Gibson wrote an email after viewing the upgrade of the Photo Gallery of this website. Following is an extract.
Firstly many thanks for all painstaking work that you have put into the title totalizator history
on 23rd July 2014, Dermot Elworthy, George Julius' great nephew, wrote an email after receiving news regarding the additions to the photo gallery of this website. An extract follows.
Obviously you have been very busy since we last spoke.
Thank you for the selection of photos. These I shall go through in detail when I have more time but my initial reaction is surprise at the "industrial" scale of some of the mechanisms.
on 21st July 2014, Warwick Halcrow, who was a systems programmer with ATL, sent me an email relating to the discovery that the old Automatic Totalisators Limited factory building at Chalmers Street in the Sydney CBD is still standing. An extract follows. I thought it was rather witty.
Thank-you for these updates. Very detailed detective work Brian "Poirot" Conlon, "it is all in zee mind's eye, monsieur!"
on 20th July 2014 William Johnson, a long serving Automatic Totalisators engineer and manager, who worked overseas on several iconic company projects like Caracas sent an Email relating to recent additions to the photo gallery chapters of this site. Following are comments, one in this and one from a previous Email.
Your history collection is certainly growing and very interesting.
In the foto outside charmers street about 1938, I recognise my father, Joe Norris and maybe Don Hardie. Terrific fotos!
On 19th July 2014, Diane McCarthy who is the treasurer of the Marrickville Heritage Society, and has assisted with research on the location of the early Automatic Totalisators factories in Sydney sent the following email after I notified her of the discovery that the Automatic Totalisators Chalmers Street factory building in the Sydney CBD is still standing.
Wow, double wow. You will be able to see it and get some new photographs when in Sydney.
Thanks also for Trove, State Library photo and other links.
On 18th July 2014 David Hamilton, a long serving Automatic Totalisators NSW Operations manager and prior Royal Navy Commander and Pilot, wrote the following comment after significant additions to the photo gallery of this website involving an additional 48 images.
You are to be congratulated for your efforts in recording the history of ATL...
On 16th July 2014 Max Burnet, once CEO of the Digital Equipment Corporation Australia and Managing Director - BACK Pty Ltd wrote the following regarding the same upgrade mentioned above.
Bob Moran and I will pore over them at length. Especially the storage screws.
Thanks for sharing them...
In June 2014 Lyn Roberts, Executive Assistant at the South Australian Jockey Club, was very helpful providing information about the Morphettville image in the photo gallery. Following are comments extracted from two of her emails.
Your website is amazing!
It is my intention to read more of your website when time permits.
Best wishes with your ongoing research.
You are creating a magnificent site, many thanks for including my offerings.
In August 2013, Rod Richards, a long seving Automatic Totalisators Limited engineer who joined the company as an apprentice in 1949 sent an email. He provided information relating to a Question that Bob Moran asked regarding the graduated drum on the side of the Ipswich Turf Club Shaft Adders. In the email I sent to Rod relating Bob's question, I also informed him that Narelle and I had retired and moved to Toowoomba. Following are two extracts from Rod's email:
Great to hear from you and congratulations to both you and Narelle on your retirements, I am sure that you both will enjoy it. I have been so called retired now for 25 years, but still find that there are not enough hours in the day --- although my hours seem to be somewhat shorter than they used to be!
Brian, I really appreciate your continued interest in Tote History, and your tremendous effort in recording this icon. I am also pleased to have been able to offer a small contribution to your work.
On 21st July 2013 Edward Fenn, owner of www.thekingscandlesticks.com wrote the following email regarding this website. Edward's website relates the genealogy of several families of which Julius is one. The domain name thekingscandlesticks.com refers to candlestiks given by King George IV to George Alfred Julius' great grandfather Dr. George Charles Julius. The first paragraph of Edward's email follows.
How very good to hear from you and may I greatly congratulate you on your work in producing such a noble record of Sir George and his achievements, plus the back ground to it all and great pictures. You must have had some wonderful travel as I have.
On 13th May 2013 Tack Tanaka wrote the following email regarding this website. On 15th May he gave approval to present it here with the sentence Yes, please add my Email to your website as one who was so impressed by the work done.
Dear Author of Website “Totalisator History, An Australian Achievement”
I was impressed by your Website.
I have a keen interest of retaining the history of Totalizator System in Japan, from the other side of the ocean, but with the same strong concern that the history is fading away in Japan as you do in Australia.
I attempted to contact NZ Racing Board, without any success.
Today, for the first time, I came across the fact that the people who have the same concern is there in Australia and as I waded your Website, I was simply moved by all those precious photos!
I used to work for Fujitsu, which are still engaged with Totalizator System, but unfortunately they don’t have any old machines. But I am trying hard to collect as much as my colleagues and I can.
I wish to thank all those efforts you made for saving the history.
I wish to see you some day in person.
"Some day" came quite soon and I met with Tack and Yoshida san on 9th July 2013. Narelle and I thoroughly enjoyed the day with them. It is a delight to be in the company of such highly motivated and accomplished individuals. Following is an email Tack sent after returning to Japan.
After saying goodbye to you and Narelle at the front gate of our hotel, and all through the day, all through the following day and until Yoshida-san and I parted at Narita Airport, we two continued speaking how great day we spent with you. Especially it was nice of you to offer that you take us to Eagle Farm and guide the system in “hands-on” manner. Without it, we could have not understood so far.
All those mysterious things and questions piled up since the day-1 of our trip were almost completely solved when I met you at Eagle Farm and your house. It was like miracle that you showed how pulleys worked to detect the arm angle and amplified the displacement for the big display, and how MAX/MIN worked, and how people reset the results each race, and how 8 scanners worked to distribute energy to 128 TIMs, and so on.
It was interesting that Narelle really joined our conversation and showed the answer to our key questions, as Nancy did. This episode made my wife chuckle this morning when I came home and tell her. She earlier said she would never go to Australia to hear all those boring engineering discussion. There is some culture difference here.
Thank you for writing all those warm words for me and Yoshida-san. I was impressed how you care about friends. But I’m sure Yoshida san never even noticed you were looking at me. He was always trying hard to catch some hints from our conversation. When we grounded at Narita, he asked me to send his thanks to you after experiencing such incredibly interesting talks. He said he had never dreamed that this tour would be so intelligent and enjoyable one. He regrets he does not speak English at all and he could only rely on me to express how he enjoyed.
Please send our thanks to Narelle. We will be long friends from now.
Yoshida and Tack
On 14th May 2013 Sue Vost wrote the following email regarding this website after I put her in contact with an ex colleague from Harringay. She had read the The End of an Era - Harringay chapter and had recollections of working at Harringay. I have included her original email in that chapter.
Thanks for your e-mail. It's good that there are people like you interested and committed enough to do their bit to protect our heritage. The pace of change is so rapid now and it's so important that people in the future will be able to see the path of progression. Keep up the good work!
On 1st November 2012 Val Burr sent the following email regarding the Feilding Julius Tote near Palmerston North in New Zealand. Val's research led to the discovery that prior to the establishment of the company Automatic Totalisators Ltd, it was called Totalling Mechanisms Ltd. This is documented in the Automatic Totalisators - later ATL chapter of this website.
Hi Mr Conlon,
I’ve been reading your website repeatedly over the past few days in relation to the Julius totalisator that was once in Feilding (installed 1920).
I am researching the building it was located in as a ‘historic building’ (for the Manawatu District Council) – which clearly it is. I thought I should ask if you have any knowledge of Feilding’s Julius totalisator. I am amazed by the building and the story. I’ve been inside the building a few years ago, but now I’m wondering if any remnants of the machine are still there. Obviously it didn’t dawn on me to look at the time. I just remember open space, but that was probably not the part of the building where the machinery would have been.
Your website is really useful. I really appreciate having had the chance to access it – the joy of the internet.
Hoping to hear from you.
Palmerston North, NZ
On 15th August 2012 Warwick Halcrow, who was a systems programmer with ATL, sent me an email relating a rather eloquent view of the continuing interest in this long dead company. The email follows:
First you make History, then you record History and finally, "You are History!".
There is a vortex that surrounds ATL, that draws people in from many walks of life. I think this is how George Julius lived with interesting in-laws and antecedents, anyone of these being a character of interest.
There is an eclectic and almost romantic history of ATL; and nothing surprises me, when persons-of-interest emerge from the woodwork.
Keep up the good work!
Cheers and Beers
On 18th July 2012 Kevin Shaw from The Ryde District Historical Society, sent me an email relating to a common interest, the old ATL factory in Meadowbank which he included in his history tours of the Ryde district and which is documented in this website. An extract follows that refers to a link from his organisation's website to this site.
What an amazing body of work is contained on your website! Congratulations. I will ask our webmaster to add a link to the home page, which I think is the best place for people to start:
On 29th March 2012 Doug Mahoney, a government Casino Inspector wrote about this website. An extract follows.
I always believed the tote was an American invention. Imagine my surprise to find your website about the development of the tote in Australia and its subsequent success. I spent a solid 5 hours reading your content when I discovered it. Some of the fotos are amazing e.g. images of cogs, chains and piano wire to perform calculations.......simply outstanding.
And when he replied in the affirmative to my request to reproduce an extract of his email here, he included the following sentence:
I have been researching my book for several months now and your site has been my best discovery by far.
On 9th March 2012 Bill Pechter wrote the following email with the subject Thanks for the great web pages.
I've been looking at the tote web pages, enjoying the pdp11 microcode flow... (I'm an old DEC PDP and Vax tech turned Unix systems admin...)
Then I saw the horror from hell. The Pertec tape drive DEC made into the PDP11's TU45. Am I wrong. I had two of these catch fire while adjusting TUS and TUP and SUS and SUP. My least favorite DEC piece of "hardware" ever. My favorite tape drive... the replacement TU45.
I'm going to download the microcode listings for the 11/34a now and have a further look.
Great web pages. We were pretty much done with chip chasing at DEC in the stats by 82, when I joined them from Tech school.
I still had my soldering iron in 1986 when I left them. How else to solder in all the address and vector jumpers on DH-11's. 8-)
d|i|g|i|t|a|l had it THEN. Don't you wish you could still buy it now!
On the 3rd of January 2012 I received an email from Tim Vickridge relating to George Julius and Fremantle. The complete email is presented in the George Julius Genealogy and other latterday interest chapter of this website. An extract follows.
I stumbled upon your excellent website on Sir George Julius and was fascinated by his incredible story. I do remember reading the Time magazine article on him and managed to obtain a copy.
On 27th and 28th October 2011 I received emails from Neil C, relating his memories of Harringay with reference to The end of an era - Harringay chapter of this website. I have included small extracts from his emails here. More of what he wrote is appended to the chapter just mentioned.
Stumbling around the internet today I discovered your piece on Harringay stadium and the totalisator machinery there. I worked for the Tote at Harringay for approximately 5 years between 1973 and 1978...
The machinery was magnificent. The noise and smell were unique and all the brass was always kept shining by the engineers. Their pride in keeping the equipment up to scratch was wonderful...
Glad my mail was of interest. Working on the Tote at Harringay was a happy time for me. It was where I was taught practical mathematics...
Regards and thanks for your website that has evoked some happy memories.
On 15 December 2010 I received an email from Owen Peake, Chair of the National Board of Engineering Heritage Australia who wrote
I spent a long time on your web site. It is fantastic
On 30 November 2010, Julian Bickersteth, Managing Director Internationalconservationservices, wrote the following email.
I do enjoy meeting people such as your self who have such passion about a subject - the world is too few of your sort!
On 22 November 2010 Rod Richards, who installed the Julius tote at Ipswich in 1950, wrote an email from which the following paragraph was extracted. The shaft adder discussed in the "Shaft Adder in the Image" chapter of this site belonged to that system and Rod has written about the Ipswich Julius tote in that chapter. He is referring to a DVD copy of an interview I gave to Racing Queensland on the subject of totalisator history in the Eagle Farm Racing Museum.
Both Elizabeth and I enjoyed watching the DVD which is excellent, as it certainly explains the workings of the Julius Tote and the introduction of the computer systems. When I left ATL in 1962 there was no mention, that I knew of, about going to a computer system which is just as well as I would have been completely lost.
And the following paragraph is extracted from an email sent on the 13th of November
Thinking back to my early days at Meadowbank; late 40’s early 50’s we never heard much about George Julius and the history behind the Totalisator at the factory which was a shame, I guess those days were taken up very much with production and getting the job done. It is a great credit to you Brian to take such an interest and to record the history of such an unique industry.
On 2 November 2010 Colin Thomas, who was the Chief Programmer of the Brisbane Project and is mentioned in this site, sent the following paragraph in an email.
Brian you have done well in documenting the history of the early computer totes and the preceding electromechanical totes. I will admit during my time on track I did not pay much attention to the gear we were replacing. However it was an engineering marvel. A real shame that so little of it has been preserved.
On 31 October 2010 I received an email from Don McKenzie after I had sent him a DVD copy of an interview I gave to Racing Queensland on the subject of totalisator history in the Eagle Farm Racing Museum. Some context - I have never worked on or seen an electro-mechanical Julius tote working. An extract follows.
Hi Brian, great DVD. Thank you very much. I didn't realise that you were so knowledgable about the electro-mechanical systems.
I know how a car engine, gearbox, and diff works, but I never took the time to figure out how a shaft adder, or electro-mechanical barometer worked. I guess I never had the need, or the time.
Yet, I worked on all TIMs from the J6 onwards. And I remember helping the old boys lug the adders upstairs at Pakenham and Mornington. They had a greasy rope with an "S" hook on it, and we attached each adder to it and lifted it upstairs using the rope. The GT adders were too heavy, and needed two men to manually carry them upstairs.
On 19 September 2010 Charles Norrie wrote an email relating to a DVD copy I sent him of an interview I gave to Racing Queensland on the subject of totalisator history in the Eagle Farm Racing Museum. The email follows:
It's taken me a bit of time to get round to this. I'm sorry. It's about your DVD.
You are a natural story teller, if not raconteur. If I were to select only one phrase (badly remembered) it is that "the odds were determined by the cotangent of the arms".
If I were able to persuade you, you would have the Newcomen society eating out of your hands. I don't think you know this, but you have a very nice, relaxed, informative manner of delivery.
Meeting you in that semi-darkened warehouse in Wroughton was a singular experience for me.
I did not know of the extent of your technical grasp of the Julius system. At that point I did not know you were the first generation after the mechanical tote, and that you had grasped the whole of its mechanical history and above all could talk about that history.
Your interviews, all sections of which I caught, convinced me, if I may dare say it, Master.
May I make copies of the DVD and on what terms?
I'd like to send copies to: Andrew Keene, who did the Harringay video; GLIAS who organised it; the Science Museum, who run Wroughton; the Newcomen Society; the Computer Conservation Society; and put it in the archives of the nascent GAJ Society.
On 13 December 2009 I received emails from Mervyn Smith and Del Linkhorn, both ex ATL Managers. The first paragraph is an extract from Mervyn's mail and the second from Del's.
You have had a very interesting period springing from your website and more so with the growing attention of academics.Your travels and contacts are a credit to your interest and tenacity and I congratulate you. There are many things I would like to talk about with you and perhaps in the new year I could come through to Eagle Farm and spend a day with you.
Firstly Brian, I sincerely wish to heartily endorse Merv's remarks with regard to the fantastic job of work you have done in the production of your Julius and ATL web pages, your world wide travel and the extensive research that you have carried out in order to obtain your information. It is indeed a great credit to you and you deserve the highest congratulations for the production of such a great history. Like Merv, I also would like to visit Eagle Farm at a suitable time to you to view the fine collection of Totalisator equipment and stories that you have. Perhaps we can have a chat about that at the Friday night dinner.
On 7 December 2009 Max Sherrard of Julius Poole and Gibson wrote an email regarding George Julius and totalisator history. An extract follows.
The reports of your various researches is most interesting, and your committment to enhancing the websites leaves me full of awe!!
On 7 August 2009 Prof. Norman Heckenberg from the University of Queensland sent the following email after I gave a lecture on the Julius tote in the Eagle Farm Racing Museum.
Dear Brian, Narelle and Ian,
Thanks very much for a most enjoyable evening last night. That machine is really very special and it was a privilege to see it.
I hope to see you again soon.
On 1 February 2009 Prof. Martyn Webb UWA wrote an email about this website and George Julius. An extract follows -
What amazing story. One can hardly believe that such a man could go almost unnoticed and unrecognised.
Professor Webb appeared on the ABC Pipe Dreams episode of Constructing Australia about C.Y. O'Connor the engineer who designed the, what was thought to be impossible, Perth to Kalgoorlie pipeline. C.Y. O'Connor was George Julius' father in law.
On 20 August 2008 Greg Baxter wrote the following email -
I, like many others, happened to come across your website during some web browsing. I found it very interesting and as a former government “Tote Inspector” during the 1970’s and 80’s in NSW witnessed the demise of the mechanical totalizators as they were replaced by the computer based systems by ATL, AWA and Racecourse Totalizators.
On 13 April 2008 Paul Duffett sent me the following email -
You may be interested in some pictures I posted on my site today. I found your article on it very interesting. It was a fascinating sight and kind of puts the Mac I use today into perspective.
And later Paul added -
I emailed you separately earlier today regarding pictures I have of the Harringay Tote machine prior to demolition. I have since had the opportunity to read the text of your article more fully and found it extremely interesting along with the comments of the former GRA employees below. I was greyhound racing photographer for The Sporting Life for many years up until it's merger with Racing Post about ten years ago and photographing the tote was one of my assignments for the paper. I used to go to many of the tracks in the south of England and knew Henry Bailey who is mentioned in Ernest Bailey's email. He was working at Wimbledon at the time (another GRA track) and was a very polite and nice man who had a comb-over of Bobby Charlton proportions I recall. I have photos of him somewhere along with shots of Eric Bowler with his machine. I envy you for having had the opportunity to experience watching and hearing the thing in action. When I visited it was during a no-race day. My final visits to the track were immediately after the final meeting there to record the scene prior to demolition and then again a year later to photograph the redevelopment of the site. The road traces the route of the old circuit. Some of the pictures were used by the developers in their brochures 'selling' the housing on the site. It was sad to see it prior to demolition, it had been run down over a period of years and the 'cheap side' had been closed a few years previously due to an unsafe structure. The general manager had planted a line of fir trees to try and hide it. I remember too, seeing photographs of the Cheetah racing. The images were not great, but clearly showed the beasts in action. What current health and safety regs would have made of it all heaven knows. The GRA clearly had a very loyal and long-served staff. I am afraid there are very few of them left now, however. One who spans the eras is Bob Rowe who still works as their overall racing manager and would have stories of all those mentioned as he worked at all of the company's stadia at some time or other. Thanks for the article and printing the comments of GRA staff. It was a very interesting trip down memory lane.
There is a link to Paul's website in the "3 more ATL systems in Asia/links to other pages" chapter.
In December 2007 Peter Nelson, recently retired from Tabcorp and ex employee of ATL, wrote about the addition of the Kota Kinabalu chapter -
I have already sent it to my girls, Dannika is stoked and I will hear from the others soon or I will bring it up at Christmas, I could drive them nuts with it. Just kidding but it is a buzz though. ... but anyhow mate, thank you for the best retirement gift ever.
On July 12 2006 Sam Hill from Reed Publishing wrote after I sent him an image for a new book they are publishing -
This is great stuff - thanks so very much for emailing me that file, which the book designer is checking...
Thanks again Brian, this book is made all the more special thanks to your contribution.
On December 24 2005 Tim Lloyd wrote -
Hi Brian, yup I am still at Tabcorp/Jupiters/AWA sitting next to Nick D. Just wanted to say (again) what a fantastic site you run. When we get new staff members who don't really understand the business we point them to your site and sit them down for a day or 2. It is a lot easier than trying to explain totes to them. You should be charging a royalty!
Cheers & merry Christmas
On July 9 2005 Cyrus Mody from India wrote -
My name is Cyrus Mody, and I am a student from India. I am currently studying tote machines as part of a research project. I came across your website, and thought maybe you could point me in the right direction - I need to learn how totes work, i.e. how are odds determined, how payouts are set, etc. Any help you could provide would be greatly welcomed, as I am at odds trying to research them online - it seems no one has any data except for your website? BTW the website is really well made, and an excellent resource.
On March 15 2005 Richard Whalley from Unitab wrote regarding the totalisator history web site -
It's great to see someone doing something with such passion as you obviously have.
On February 24 2004 John Kolesar wrote -
Hi, I really enjoyed the article about Premier Equip. I worked for Autotote 1970 thru 1991 at homebase Thistledown, in Ohio. Worked many places including Meadowlands in New Jersey, Pompano, Calder, Waterford, Jai Lai in Florida and CT. It was enjoyable and U brought back memories - thanks.
On February 2 2004 Norman Heckenberg from the Physics Department at The University of Queensland wrote -
That is a great site! I am just back from a break and have lots of mail to deal with so I cant look right through it now, but a short surf was fascinating. Are you still in Brisbane? I have a lecture series, called "Tools of Science", where we look at old instruments and technology, and you would surely enjoy them. In fact, maybe you could give one of the talks, as several of the regulars are interested in old calculators, and it seems like a fascinating story everyone would enjoy.
On January 29 2004 David Watkin from Unitab wrote -
I did go and look at the film clips on the Julius tote - fascinating stuff.
And in February 2002 David wrote -
I was talking to Paul last Friday and mentioned to him that I thought you had done an excellent job on your 'Totalisator History' web site. I'm giving a paper at the 10th Annual Gaming and Casinos Convention at the Gold Coast in March - the theme of my presentation is the "Changing face of the TAB" and I wanted to introduce the audience to a bit of history about totalisators. I will most definitely mention your web site and found it useful to give a pre TAB history.
On 23 January 2004 Martin Källberg wrote an email, the first paragraph follows -
My name is Martin Källberg and I work as a harness racing journalist in Sweden. I found your site about the history of the tote on the internet - very interesting!
On 13 December 2003 Bob Plemel who used to be Engineering Manager of ATL (Automatic Totalisators) wrote about the new video clips chapter -
Those are fantastic film clips. The sound is awesome.
On 26 April 2003 David Griffiths, Chair, Academic Senate and Foundation Professor of Statistics, University of Wollongong wrote-
I have spent some of the last 24 hours reading your fascinating material on the history of automatic totalisators.
As an academic statistician with an interest in history, and a former CSIRO employee, I have long been aware of George Julius in inventing the automatic totalizator, and of his critical role as Chair of the CSIR.
I currently teach Probability to first year computer scientists. As it happens, I have set them an assignment with a TAB flavour, to do with the new "Spinner" gamble that they introduced on April 7 this year. ...
What a wealth of material you have gathered. It has all sorts of personal and quirky insights and anecdotes, and it is all the better for them. It has a lot of technical stuff that only the technical buffs, especially those with an historical bent, will understand and appreciate - and love, but that is also a strength. Of course I have not read it all yet, so I have more gems to find. ...
Next Tuesday is the 130th anniversary of the birth of George Julius. I will feature that in my lecture and refer my 300+ students to your web site. ...
Regards, and a very big thank you from one appreciative reader.
On 27 March 2003 Ray Girvan, Technical Author, wrote-
Amazing and well-researched site! I just added links from my weblog and computer history pages.
By coincidence, I'm writing an article on the era of mechanical computing for Scientific Computing World magazine and just had to rapidly revise it to include the Julius Totalisator. ...
And on 23 April 2003 after sending approval to use his email on the internet-
It's both a well-produced site, and one I think of serious historical significance.
I have not revealed the writer of this email as I have been unable to contact him to gain approval to use it.
On 23 June 2002 RW wrote -
I started out this afternoon trying to find out how to calculate what a trifecta might pay on a race. The various TABs did not appear to have this sort of info; so I went to a search engine and came across your site.
It is now four hours later and I still do not know how to calculate a trifecta payout!
I am NOT complaining as I found your site VERY VERY interesting. I don't believe I have ever had such a long session on a computer. I am not "into" infernal counting machines - and some of the tech stuff was beyond me - but this was just too interesting to leave alone.
On 11 June 2002 Caroline Warnes, Features Editor for the Australian NetGuide sent an email-
She indicated that this site was featured in their magazine's Top50 Web sites section and that their reviewers concluded that it warranted special mention because of its design, originality, function, usability and content.
The NetGuide Top Fifty award
On 26 March 2002 Bruce Rutter who used to be General Manager of ATL (Automatic Totalisators) wrote-
I am pleased you were able to use the little information which I had relating to the totalisator history.You have done such an excellent job to date with your investigations and web site I am pleased to nominate you as my official historian and custodian of details and documents and would be delighted if you would take care of the documents which I forewarded to you. Please keep them and use them as you consider appropriate ...
On 18 January 2002 Prof. Silvio Hènin wrote-
I have found your web pages on the history of the Julius Totalisator really interesting. As I am an amateur scholar of the history of calculating devices (I have also written some papers for the Italian edition of Scientific American) I'd like very much to get more Information about the technical description of this wonderful machine. ...
And on 29 January 2002
You are helping me so much that I hardly imagine how to
repay your kindness.
Anyhow, I am thinking to write a short paper on the tote machines for an
Italian scientific magazine and I'll sure mention your website. ...
In December 2001 Bob Moran contacted me regarding a project he and Professor Allan Bromley had undertaken to restore part of the Broadmeadow's (Newcastle) Julius Totalisator system to an operational condition. We have exchanged several emails since then. Following are a couple of extracts. The second was received after I introduced him to Neville Mitchell who contributed the Memories of the Factory chapter of this totalisator history web site.
We have an opportunity to set up a working interactive display in a local Museum. I propose to do the restoration etc. We have some documentation and Allan is very knowledgeable on its workings, but unfortunately we do not have a wiring diagram. I would be very grateful for any information or suggestions you may have? ...
Congratulations on your very excellent site.
I met with Neville and Nancy today, very nice people, we had a productive morning going over details of the machine and viewing the wreckage. Unfortunately Allan could not make it because of the short notice, we will organise another meeting as Allan and Neville will get on like a house on fire! It was a timely visit as we have just started to assemble the frame, and to work out where everything fits. Much of the framework is missing so this will be a challenge. looks like Neville will be a wonderful asset as he knows so much about the workings of this machine. He offered to rough out a schematic of the overall workings which will help no end. This is shaping up to be a great project.
Thank you for making this happen, I will keep you informed as things progress.
In November 2001 Tim Jordan wrote about ATL The Brisbane Project chapter sub heading Memories of a system long gone -
I really enjoyed reading your web page. I work in the online gaming industry
and I can draw some analogy to the situations in your page to my situation
now. The industry is in it's infancy and the quality of the programming is
not as good as it should be,
but I am sure it will improve. I sent the URL to some of my colleagues who
I am sure will be amused and interested in the information and experiences
you have shared. Thank you I found it most enjoyable.
In October 2001 John Costello, Author editor and journalist emailed me whilst conducting research into the history of the computer business. He was interested in the financial support Eckert and Mauchly received, whilst developing UNIVAC 1, provided by someone in the tote business. One of his emails follows -
Thank you for your reply.
From further research, it appears Straus was the founder of AmTote.
A further intersteting twist is that Straus got his funding from General
Electric - the company orginally founded by Edison!
This gets more intersting the further I dig.
BTW I enjoyed your excellent Web site.
This site received the New Cyber Tech Award, presented to those sites whose web design originality and content have achieved levels of excellence deserving of recognition, in October 2001.
On 2 October 2001 Vicki Hollett wrote-
Thank you so much for pulling together all this information. What a
fascinating story! I am a freelance author writing business english textbooks
for Oxford University Press. Sadly, the language would be too complex for
the target market of my present book, but one day I hope to be able to
incorporate this story... And in the meantime - it was a great personal
read. Thank you!
Following are some extracts from emails received from Chris Robertson in September 2001
To introduce myself, I am a former 'Professional Punter' (though how one can be a professional without any clients escapes me) who made a good living betting on the 'overs and unders' from the mid 70's to the mid 90's in my homestate of Victoria. This developed from a love of horse racing, a good head for figures, and an almost obsessional fascination with the machinations of betting...
ATL tickets I have are from such diverse locations as Cork and Shelbourne Park in Ireland (where J8's sold Win, Place and Forecast at the same time), Singapore, Penang, Ipoh, Hong Kong, Cape Town, Bangkok. I have a J22 issued lottery ticket from Singapore (circa 1987)...
But more important to me; memories of people, places, incidents and eras. Here are just a few. - 'Toties' screaming "Mechanic" and watching the mechanic pull screwed up tickets from TIMs with pliars. - The look on a Tote Manager's face when confronted by tickets from a machine where the race number didn't match the paper code. The same manager's face watching machines spit out tickets on a race already run. - Tote operators removing their shoes to wade through flooded betting areas after the downpour prior to the 1976 Melbourne Cup...
What was really sad was the replacement of J25s in 1994. To me the Tote was no longer the Tote. Nowadays it seems any generic computer terminal can handle the functions that were previously carried out by highly specialised machines that were a delight to watch perform...
That's progress. Computers have been the nemesis of the old fashioned 'Overs' punter. My Saturdays are now spent watching football, and last year I missed my first Derby Day at Flemington since 1969...
You know, I'm actually looking forward to stepping out for a race meeting this Spring. I have your site to thank for that.
All the best,
Following are some sentences from emails received from Ian Bryce Chief Engineer Asia Pacific Space Centre in July 2001
Enjoyed your web site on ATL.
Is there somewhere I can see these machines?
It seems to me that the whole series of machines are worthy of preservation and display, as an ongoing and successful Australian innovation.
I used to deal with ATL in Meadowbank, Sydney.
Following is an extract from an email received on 7 June 2001 written by Elizabeth Denny-
I just found your marvelous Totalisator website, while searching the WWW
for possible sources of information relating to my great-grandfather,
Arthur F. Poole, who is known mainly for having invented a variety of
electric clocks (this is in the US). Right around the time your Sir
George was inventing his fascinating contraption, this quirky ancestor
of mine worked for a company known as Wahl Adding Machine, based in
Chicago, Illinois, USA. Arthur patented a large number of inventions
relating to "algebraic totalizers," as well as improvements to existing
adding machines and "calculating-machines," which is why I was so
interested in your website. His patents for these inventions started in
1914 and went all the way through 1934 when he passed on.
On 16 May 2001 Susan Julius wrote-
Just a quick hello to say thanks for the info regarding my cousin, George.
I now have a hint to trace my family back to the Norwich area.
This is also the first image I have seen of him. Unlike George,
I am a technical dunce, but feel rewarded to read of his life & inventions.
A rare punter
On 11 November 2000 Professor Maureen Bessette wrote-
Must tell you what an amazing web site you've constructed. I am an accounting professor at
Johnson & Wales Universtity in Providence, RI. I'm hard at work on a Casino Accounting textbook.
I needed to know more about the Totalizer for my "history of gambling" chapter. I only needed
about 100 words but read for an hour. How would you like your credit to read? Gratefully yours,
Maureen H. Bessette, CPA, M.B.A.
On 7 November 2000 Denis Brown wrote from The University of Western Australia about ATL The Brisbane Project chapter sub heading To the technologists -
Stumbled upon your historical pages by accident. Fascinating stuff. Thanks for a trip down memory lane -- yes I do remember core memory and hand-written loops for debugging at chip level. Did exactly that on more than one occasion for a variety of hardware. Did you ever come across Computer Automation gear at all? Or the militarised PDP-8 by Fabritek?
Anyway, thanks for the journey. Best wishes.
On 12 October 2000 Peter Cotton wrote from Stanford University-
Your site on the history of the totalizator is absolutely top notch and fascinating.
I am currently working on racing related sites and will be sure to link to yours. (Hopefully)
more importantly, I am currently writing up my doctoral thesis in which I am proposing a new exchange
mechanism for financial securities which has as its core the parimutuel calculation. ... I would like,
with your permission, to include one of two historical items ( descriptions of the operation or early sketch or, the one
I really loved, the diagram on the original patent application). Please let me know if this is possible.
On 18 Aug 2000 Iain Harrison wrote-
I was delighted to stumble across your series of pages on the history and development of electro-mechanical totalisator equipment whilst surfing around various historical engineering sites.
I really enjoyed your pages and would like to say thanks for reminding me how
fascinated I used to be watching
this type of equipment work during visits to local dog tracks throughout my
childhood and teen years. ...
On 10 July 2000 Jill Anderson wrote-
I came across your Totalisator site because I have been researching the life of my grandmother's brother (my great uncle), Lt Joseph Kenneth Donaldson who died at Gallipoli on 22 August 1915 aged 28. He was a Consulting Engineer who did his apprenticeship at the WA Govt Railways and moved to Sydney where he worked with George Julius.
Congratulations on a great site.
On 7 June 2000 Sellam Ismail from the Vintage Computer Festival wrote-
This is an amazing piece of computer history! I'm always thrilled to find out about computing and calculating machines that are not very well known throughout the world. I'll be definately adding this link to the links database.
On 21 May 2000 Dr Chris McConville from the University of the Sunshine Coast wrote-
You contacted me a while ago about the article I wrote in Time magazine about Julius.
I've just seen your updated site and thought it was terrific. ...
On 5 May 2000 Martha Canterini, Webmaster of Second Running, after receiving approval to link to these pages wrote-
Thank you so much. It is a delightful site and perhaps more people will be able to enjoy it.
And after I asked for approval to reproduce Martha's email on the internet-
Of course. Except that what I said was the understatement of the year. I am so thrilled
to be able to offer you a link through Second Running. What a great job you have done on
a topic where so little is known. I thank you for all my readers. Yes Second Running is
all mine. My husband rode races for 18 years and horses were my life too. ...
On 31 January 2000 I received mail from Encyclopaedia Britannica. They wrote that their editors had selected this site as one of the best on the internet when reviewed for quality, accuracy of content, presentation and usability.
HistoryTelevision gave their approval on 15 January 2000.
On 6 January 2000 Wendy Jones, George Julius' great grandaughter wrote
I am Wendy Jones formerly Wendy Shellshear; my mother Jenifer Julius, Awdry's eldest daughter. Thankyou for a wonderful website, so very much I didn't know other than in photographs from the family tree which I have grown up with. My mother has been compiling the family tree for about the last 15 years or so as far as I can remember.
I have been living in London for six years now and seeing this page makes me very proud and very homesick. My father is also a mechanical engineer, though now professionally retired.
Anyway without pondering on for too much. Thanks and again a brilliant site, which makes me very, very proud.
On 25 November 1999 Lawrence Vail wrote about the White City Greyhounds system in London
I was the Totalisator Manager of this for 5 Years and it was "from the Ark". We had electro-mechanical thingys by the squillion and obviously it was all down to you lot. Good on you.
Note - there are some photographs of the White City Stadium system in the photo
On 19 September 1999 Ruth Gard wrote
I was searching for information about the history of computers to use in
classes I teach in Cleveland, Ohio, when I happened to hit your web site (which,
by the way, is excellent.)
Only last week, my 51-year-old son Gary was reminiscing about the nickname he acquired when he was five or six years old -- "Tutalizer."
It happened because my father, Joseph Shiffman, an electrical engineer in the city of Cleveland, had the contract to install what he called a "Totalizer" at a race track in Cleveland. This was a big and interesting job, and was cause for some discussion in the family.
I just called Gary today to find out how it happened that he picked that name. He said that his older brothers were badgering him, and asked him what his nickname was. The word, "Totalizer" seemed to him to be indicative of something very smart, so he answered "Tutalizer."
Gary today is the president of a local union in Columbus, Ohio. No one calls him by that nickname any more, but we all remember it, and he is still, of course, very smart.
And after I requested approval to reproduce the email on the internet -
Of course you have my permission to use our story. If I had known I was to be
quoted, I would have said more about your web site. I found it to be well
organized, uses attractive colors, and has a nice variety of backgrounds and
illustrations to retain my attention. I like also that it does not have a
cluttered look. I will mention it to the instructors at my college who teach the
internet classes. ...
I just thought of something else you might like to hear about. During the time that the Totalisator was being installed in Cleveland, my father and his wife, Edythe, entertained the Australians here, and at some later date they traveled to Australia and were entertained there by them. I think they maintained contact with them for many years.
On 26 August 1999 Peter Fletcher wrote
I stumbled upon your web site today and found it brought back strong and
pleasant memories of my earliest visits as a child to Randwick Racecourse, and
later my role as a "Tote Inspector" for the NSW Government in the 1980s. I well
recall the electro-mechanical Universal tote vans which operated at tracks like
Penrith and Richmond. Thanks for the memories!
On 22 August 1999 Mike Bell who was a manager at ATL wrote
I had a look at your ATL web site & was very impressed. You've really
done a great job and it's a fitting memorial to the company and the people who
strived over the decades to keep their product at the forefront of technology,
innovation and quality.
On 11 July 1999 Joe Brandon wrote
I started with Autotote in 1974 at Dania Jai Alai. Ted Taylor (from London)
was my boss. I cut my teeth on the J8. I'm now the manager at Atlantic City. At
the time we were still owned by Premier Equipment.
Just wanted to say I found this extremely interesting. Keep up the great work!
On 3 July 1999 Richard Shook wrote
I have worked for Autotote Sytems for over 30 years, and am aware of much of
the history, but I found this site so informative! I am forwarding your site
address to others in our company so they can enjoy also.
Thank you and all responsible for such fine work!
On 12 April 1999 Bill Saunders wrote
My wife and I own and run Cyberhorse, which is Australia's most popular
privately run racing site with 600,000 hits a month. For some time, we have had
a link from our Virtual FormGuide section to your Tote History page, which I
hope has been responsible for some of your visitors. I have just today revisited
your site and I must admit you have built it up to be a most fascinating history
of an interesting subject.
On 10 April 1999, I received mail from Submission Pro. They wrote "Your site has been awarded the Submission Pro - Pro Site Award. We would like to thank you for taking the time to make the internet a better place ..."
On 28 February 1999 Stuart Smith wrote
Fascinating and interesting history of ATL! I was tote engineer at the Royal Hong Kong Jockey Club from 1977 - 1989, worked on the PDP8 system complete with paper tape loaders, knew Neville Mitchell, went to Meadowbank factory and more...
I replied to Stuart thanking him for his kind words about the web pages.
No, great pages and some real memories and a great pleasure to find that someone has put so much work into documenting a major chapter in tote history...
He also related the following story which I thought was interesting. I have disguised the company name. This story brings to mind the axiom "it's an ill wind that does not blow anyone any good".
Charlie Eastham came to Hong Kong with the first XTC tote in around 1951, great story
As usual the tote didn't work properly when it left the factory in UK, this would have been around 1949. Charlie was told to sort it out when he got to Hong Kong as the tote had to be on a certain ship to make the first race day. Charlie, a junior engineer, nervously flew to Hong Kong a few weeks later, only to find out that the ship with the tote on it had sunk! XTC got the insurance money for a full working tote and a year to sort out all the problems.
On 21 January 1999 I received mail from the National Library of Australia indicating
that this site has been selected for participation in the PANDORA ( Preserving and
Accessing Networked DOcumentary Resources of Australia ) project. This project manages
the archiving and provision of long term access to Australian publications of national interest.
In the November 1998 issue of Practical Punting Monthly, Brian Blackwell wrote
There seems to be a site for everything on the Net ... and there's one that
relates the history of the invention of the world's first automatic totalisator
in Australia ( by George Julius back in 1913 ). It's a non-commercial,
history-only site but it's beautifully presented and it tells a fascinating
On 20 October 1998 Dr. T. Bergin Professor at The American University wrote
What an interesting site; you did a wonderful job on it; I look forward to telling my students about it in the Spring semester.
And on 27 October 1998
You have built a fine site that my students will very much enjoy visiting and
you have motivated me to add the Totalizator to my lecture about the mechanical
On 20 October 1998 Nicholas Bodley, Electronic Technician Autodidact & Polymath, wrote a lengthy email. I have presented two extracts here.
Well, I set up my legacy home computer to download ~4MB of images (at9600 bps) (acquired by Lynx) and, after having read all the text, went to sleep very bleary-eyed. They all downloaded, and were successfully deleted from my ISP's shell server disk. This morning, I had an offline look, and for gadget hounds, some are absolutely not to be missed.
You've set up a web site for which many of us have much reason to be grateful!
On 20 October 1998 Max Burnet, Vice President, Australian Computer Museum Society Inc. gave approval to quote an extract from an email he sent.
Congratulations on a great set of Totalisator pages. A brilliant presentation
on a great Australian achievement. Well Done.
On 23 August 1998 Professor Trevor Cole from Sydney University wrote
We need to be aware of our engineering heroes and you provide an excellent reference site.
and on 06 May 1997
What a marvellous labour of love has gone into the Web page preparation.
On 24 June 1998 Matthew Connell from the Powerhouse Museum Sydney wrote
Your site is fantastic - a wealth of information.
On 15 June 1998 James O'Brien wrote from the University of Western Sydney Macarthur. I have included the first paragraph here.
For some time now I have wanted to write to you to offer my congratulations
on your excellent site. If I were in the business of offering awards for
internet sites, yours would certainly be at the top of the list. Here at UWS I
have notified several of our staff about the site. First our group of historians
form the nucleus of the Australian Sports History Group. I have drawn Prof
Andrew Moore's attention to the excellent historical documentation contained in
On 27 May 1998 David Sprigings wrote
I read with great interest your article on ATL USA. I worked for Standard
Tote and Bell Punch before going with ATL who were located in Wilmington
Delaware at that time. I worked tracks all throughout the USA, Canada plus
Central and South America. I was involved in the original installations at
Aqueduct, Saratoga and Belmont before leaving the Company to work as a designer
for Northern Telecom in 1967. Your article brought back many fond memories.
And on 1 June
... Please let me know when you are generating updates to that wonderful home
On 24 May 1998, Wayne Kessler wrote "your site was selected as Sports Site of the Nite for it's interesting and valuable content, and we hope our audience thoroughly enjoys it".
On 11 March 1998, Bob Plemel who was Engineering Manager of ATL, wrote about the Memories of a system long gone in the "ATL The Brisbane Project" chapter.
"You should be a writer. Ursula and I both enjoyed your memories of a system
long gone. Turn it into a book and maybe it will become a best seller."
On 5 February 1998, Market-Tek sent congratulations, indicating that they had reviewed this site and were pleased to present the Market-Tek Design Award.
Grant Boyden from 2KY, wrote on 26 January 1998, that this was a great site, he liked it a lot and that it had received the 2KY top site award.
Christina Brooks from PersonalConnections sent email on 21 January 1998, she thought it was a great site. From the large amount of feedback that they gained from their users, she feels this site was really appreciated.
The PersonalConnections Site Innovation Award
Daniel Lidén sent email on 11 January 1998, indicating that this site was subjected to some serious testing at the webcenter and that it had passed with honours.
The Wetwired Approval
Elie Khoury sent email on 31 December 1997, indicating that this site had been reviewed and that it is creative and full of content.
The World Sports News, Non Sporting site Web award
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