This is one of several history only, non commercial, pages relating to the history of the automatic totalizator, its invention in 1913, the inventor George Julius and the Australian company he founded in 1917 which became a monopoly ( later an oligopoly ) in this field. This page contains a document describing Caracas in the 1950s and the totalisator installed there.
|Julius tote installation in Caracas|
Caracas, installed in the 1950s, was amongst the latter-day Julius (electro mechanical) totalisators. Automatic Totalisators' research department was laying the foundations for the development of a computer-based totalisator in the early 1950s. This research led to the development of the world's first computer-based totalisator , which was built for the New York Racing Association. The advent of the computer-based totalisator eventually led to the cessation of Julius tote production.
Postscript - It is now June 2005 and I have just received mail from Caracas. I was informed that the Julius tote there is still in operation. After 48 years of operation I have been asked if I have any information on how to make adjustments to the system to bring it up-to-date!
Neville Mitchell, a long serving manager at Automatic Totalisators, told me that when he started with Automatic Totalisators, the Caracas installation was regarded as the "flagship" of the Julius totes.
Regressing a moment, in March 2002, I was talking to Neville. For years I was under the impression that the Longchamps installation with its 273 terminals, was the largest of the operational electro mechanical systems. Neville told me that Caracas which was installed 30 years after Longchamps was bigger! This piqued my interest in the Caracas installation. As you will read in this section Caracas was slightly short of Longchamps in number of ticket issuing machines, however the increased functionality of these machines meant there were effectively more.
(Postscript - I have recently read a post world war 2 booklet titled The Julius Premier Totemobile, which lists all installations by number of terminals. It shows White City Stadium London as having 320 terminals.)
In the same month I also communicated with Keith Dodwell, a long serving manager at Autotote. He wrote that Caracas had the latest large electro mechanical adder that provided the ability to display pool totals. He also indicated that the Rio de Janeiro installation in 1950 was more unique and that it had 4 shaft adders per runner and each TIM could sell three pools and four different values. He also indicated that he was in his 59th year working for Automatic Totalisators/Autotote! Keith was very hospitable to me when I visited Autotote in 1983 after attending a DEC course in Boston on VAX 11/750 processor internals.
Since the previous paragraph was written, Keith Dodwell has retired. He served 60 years with Automatic Totalisators/Autotote, starting at 14 and finishing at 74. This must be some kind of record! Most people do not work for this long, let alone for the same organisation! Congratulations Keith!
In December 2003 I received a copy of a document from Matthew Connell at the Powerhouse Museum titled "Julius Premier Totalisators" by Totalisators Limited England. It records the Jockey Club Brasiliero, Rio de Janeiro, Brasil as having a Julius tote installation with win place and double pools, 45 runners or combinations, 5 indicators and 250 ticket issuing machines.
The following article has content that does not relate to totalisators. I have decided to include all of it here to satisfy my sense of completeness. Additionally to provide content for the non technical reader and finally as it provides an interesting snapshot of 1950s Caracas.
Note - In the following article I have substituted the pound symbol with the word pounds.
Poised on the very crown of South America is the city of Caracas - a huge spectacular symbol of the soaring prosperity that oil has brought to Venezuela.
Although the city is 400 years old, Caracas can rightly claim to be one of the most modern and flourishing cities, not only in South America, but anywhere in the world.
Few cities in the world can boast of such an impressive highway as Caracas' "Autopista"; few cities can offer visitors a five-mile car ride over a 7,000-foot mountain to the sea; few cities have such modern and opulent hotels, apartment blocks, office buildings and avenues, and few cities will have such an elaborate and luxurious racecourse as the new Hipodromo Nacional.
Ten years or so ago Caracas was not the thriving city of a million progressive people that it is to-day. Now it is probably the fastest growing city in the world - faster even than the fabled city of Houston, Texas.
Travellers returning from South America all rave about Caracas. To them it is the city of South America, and Venezuela is the country they tell you to watch in the future. It is not oil alone that has made the difference, but the policy of "sowing the profits of oil" - in one of the world's largest and most epoch-making public works programmes. In 1956, for instance, this dynamic public works programme cost Venezuela something like A250 million pounds. But thanks to oil, Venezuela can afford it.
For the gigantic oilfields under Lake Maracaibo and elsewhere make Venezuela one of the great oil-producing areas of the world. And her enormous untapped reserves are considered vital for the defence of the free world in the event of war.
The results of this oil boom, and the public works programme that it has made possible, can be seen all over Caracas.
Its public thoroughfares are no longer rough and narrow roads, but wide and streamlined avenues. The "ranchitos" on the mountainsides are giving way to huge, vividly-coloured apartment blocks. A coffee plantation has been replaced by the great new University City.
But there are many other things in Caracas of which the Venezuelan people are proud. Three in particular - The Simon Bolivar Centre, the "Autopista" and the "Teleferico".
The Simon Bolivar Centre is regarded as the architectural achievement of South America. To New Yorkers, it is the "Rockefeller Centre" of Latin America. Its twin skyscrapers are each 30 storeys high and house many of the government offices. Beneath the skyscrapers are shops, a terminal for 500 busses, and parking space for 1,600 cars.
The great engineering achievement of Caracas is the "Autopista" - the super-highway that sweeps through the Andean foothills from the Caribbean port of La Guaira to Caracas, 11 miles inland and 3,000 feet up in the mountains.
The most remarkable thing about this highway is that it is eight miles shorter than the old road and has only 36 curves. The old road had no less than 365 bends. This has meant that driving time from Caracas to the sea has been cut from one hour to only 15 minutes. This six-lane highway, opened in 1953, took three years to build and cost about A25 million pounds.
The trip takes only 15 minutes, and is certainly one of the most thrilling aerial car rides in the world. Passengers can, if they want to, ride only as far as Mt. Avila and stop off there on the top at the Humboldt Hotel.
The Humboldt, with its circular design, gleaming glass and aluminium exterior, is one of Caracas' outstanding landmarks, standing as it does on the mountain overlooking the city.
The 14-storey Humboldt has its own branch aerial car line connecting with the main line over the mountain. On the branch line, passengers travel in small, round, six passenger cars nicknamed "Cinderella Pumpkins". From the hotel, the visitor gets a splendid panoramic view of the expanding, colourful city of Caracas stretched out beneath in the valley.
Already another equally spectacular landmark is being planned for Caracas - a huge, cone-shaped shopping centre. This massive building will look something like a gigantic beehive, and will house some 240 shops served by a spiral roadway winding round the outside in several complete circles to the top. This building, to be called the "Helicoid", will also contain offices, garages, television studios, an auditorium, hotel, dance-hall, restaurants and its own heliport. The "Helicoid" is expected to cost A11 million pounds to build.
But long before the "shopping centre of the future" becomes a reality, the residents of Caracas will enjoy the facilities of a new race track, the Hippodromo Nacional, certainly the most modern and one of the most luxurious in the world.
Credit for the design of this race track goes to Mr. Arthur Froelich, A.I.A., of Los Angelis, noted throughout the Americas as a leading race track architect, designer and consultant.
One of the highlights of the Hippodromo Nacional is the totalisator equipment, which embodies "push-button control" and the most elaborate security measures of any totalisator installation anywhere in the world.
The control room which is the pulse of the totalisator, provides for "push-button" instantaneous monitoring of information on the betting position on any horse, or the odds on any horse on any one of eleven indicator boards on the track. As far as is known, the new Caracas race track will have more indicating boards than any other race track in the world and will also have the largest in-field indicator. In this respect, at least one indicator is visible from any selling position on the track, so that the investor is never without the latest betting information.
A specialty of the Julius Premier totalisator made by Automatic Totalisator Limited is the automatic ticket counter, as distinct from the bets counters. Located in the control room, ticket counters provide up-to-the-minute information on number of tickets sold and their values for each horse, as well as details on the comparative position of high and low value sales.
The Caracas installation has 123 ticket issuing machines selling, as required and nominated, bets for either Ganador (win), Descarte (place) or Show (or for all three) on tickets of 5, 10, 20, and 50 bolivares.
The machine also sells Mutual (forecast) system tickets for 2, 5, 10, and 20 bolivares investments through 115 additional ticket-issuing machines.
An exclusive feature of all Automatic Totalisator Limited installations is the selling of win, place and show tickets from the one ticket-issuing window as against separate windows necessary with other types of equipment.
Thus the total of 238 ticket-issuing machines at the Caracas Hippodromo Nacional is the equivalent of 484 ticket issuers on race tracks equipped with other than the Julius Premier Automatic Totalisator - and this fact, together with the speed and efficiency of the Julius Premier explains why it is the standard equipment at leading racecourses the world over.
|Blue Bonnetts Montreal the Last Julius Tote installation|
No this is not Carracas, however we are on the subject of latter-day Julius totalisators and I have just come across this image of the last of the Julius tote installations. It seems appropriate to display it here. Neville Mitchell has written a note which is attached to the photograph. It reads - Multi Channel Adder Frame and Controls: Made for trotting track in Ottawa, Blue Bonnetts raceway, 1964 - very last main adder type system ever built. - Note access relay sets replaced "distributor" T.I.M. control. Also note on frame direct readout to lamp box of odds via slider driver off Horse Adder/GT Adder. I worked long hours 7 days a week on this project.
Neville's comment of the long hours reminds me of a term Charlie Barton, Ex Chief Engineer of the Brisbane Julius totes, used to use with reference to tote engineer's wives. He used to call them tote widows!
(Postscript - there was some confusion over the location of this installation. Neville's note indicates that it is in Ottawa. After receiving an email from Chris Robertson in March 2005 correcting this error, I spoke to Neville about it. He said he was exhausted after this project and recorded the location in error. I have included an extract from Chris' email - But any respecting Francophone Canadian will take umbrage at the suggestion that Blue Bonnets Raceway is, or ever was in Ottawa. It won't come as any great surprise to you to learn I've actually been to Blue Bonnets and I can assure you it is in Montreal Quebec.)
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