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 is a continuation of the photo gallery which displays images relating to early totalisators.
|Photo Gallery continued|
This is a continuation of a set of photographs, some lent and some donated to me by Frank Matthews, relating to totalisator history and the company Automatic Totalisators Limited. I am very grateful to Frank for having kept these photographs from being discarded at George Julius' engineering consulting company Julius Poole and Gibson. Frank Matthews was the last Senior Partner of that company. This page extends the previous photo gallery page of this website and continues to present a picture-book like view of totalisator history. If you are reading this out of sequence and would like to start at the beginning of the Photo Gallery scroll down to the bottom of the page and select the Previous page button of the navigation bar.
This part of the photo Gallery gives a good view of the development of this equipment through the mechanical era into the electronics era. It shows some mechanical drawings and later some electronic circuit diagrams which are a good contrast of technologies as well.
Hialeah racetrack in Miami 1932
|The Julius Show Pool Tote at Miami. This view is inside the machine room which is the building with the barometer indicators on the outside shown in the fourth photograph. This is part of the first Automatic Totalisator's system installed in America. This system is one of the earliest Large Scale Real-time Multi-user systems that existed before the electronics systems that made these concepts commonplace. This system had 110 TIM terminals.|
|The stand at Hialeah racetrack. This is where the first Automatic Totalisator's system was installed in America. This image shows the stand during an operation when this system was in use. There is an article titled Hialeah Park's Australian totalisator in the Automatic Totalisators in America 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 queues in the stand at Hialeah racetrack. This image shows the punter queues on the first floor of the stand shown above, during an operation when this system was in use. The building in the next photograph is visible in the second nearest archway of this photo|
|The Julius Barometer Indicators at Miami. This is part of the first Automatic Totalisator's system installed in America. Inside the first floor of this building is the Julius Tote Machine Room containing the Straight, Place and Show pool electromechanical mainframes. The show pool mainframe can be seen in the first photograph in this section. The indicators on the side of this building are local indicators as they are on the walls of the building housing the mainframe machinery.|
|The Starting Post at Hialeah showing a Julius Tote Barometer Odds Indicator for the Straight Pool and a Lamp Box Results and Dividends Indicator. It also shows an interesting cable race start system. The Julius Tote Barometer Odds Indicator is a public display output device for the electromechanical mainframe. This indicator shows the Straight Pool. The first image above, in the Hialeah section is the electromechanical mainframe for the Show Pool and looks the same as the one that drives this indicator.|
White City Stadium London 1933 - One of the first large scale real time multi user systems - The World's Biggest Tote
All these White City images relate to what could be regarded as the Electro Mechanical Computer Room
|Adders and switchboard for win place and forecast, White City London 1933.
In July 1998 I visited White City London. I found what used to be the Stadium where the dog track operated. It is now a BBC building.
The switchboard in the background can be seen in the image after the next one.
|The adding equipment, part of the central processing system at White City Stadium London 1933. A newspaper article in this page, describes this system as The World's Biggest Tote and another article refers to The first automatic totalisator for Tasmania, which ironically has the same name. The White City London system had 320 terminals! The adders in this image were large, to accommodate this number of machines. The switchboard in the next image can be seen on the left hand side of this image. The above image showing the switchboard in the background, which is part of the switchboard and equipment panels in the following image was photographed from a position in this image past the second column looking left.|
|The main switch board, scanners, overlap relays, TIM isolation switches and cut-out relays for the Win Place and Forecast tote in White City London. The scanners can be seen at the bottom of the racks and are Time Division Multiplexers before the advent of electronics. A section from this image can be seen in close up in the following image. The last image in this White City section shows what lies behind the grilled door on the right hand side of this image.|
|A close up view of some of the scanners, overlap relay banks, TIM isolation switches and cut-out relays in White City London. This is a segment of the image above and shows a closer view of the Time Division Multiplexers that existed before an electronics industry had been established.|
|A close up view of a Cutout Relay or Circuit Breaker. This device is not specific to the White City London system, however it is here as many of these devices can be seen at the top of the image above, minus the fuses. Additionally, the ones in the image above are a 2 contact type and this is a 4 contact type.|
|Another view of the adding equipment, part of the central processing system at White City Stadium London 1933. The uncovered adder is a Forecast Pool Grand Total Adder.|
|This image shows the cubicle behind the White City Main Switchboard and other equipment panels containing the scanners, overlap relays, TIM (Ticket Issuing Machine) isolation switches and cut-out relays for the Win Place and Forecast tote in White City London. You can see the outside of this cubicle in the third image in the White City section above. In that image, a grilled door is visible on the right hand side and that door allows access to the cubicle visible in this image.|
Brough Park Newcastle Upon Tyne 1936
|One of the many adders in the central processing system, to be installed at Brough Park Newcastle Upon Tyne in 1936, shown in the factory. This adder has an interesting comment written on it referring to the Storage Screw. This is a mechanical counterpart to a delay line an electronic version of which was used as a memory device. This photograph shows the front view of the adder and the following photograph shows the top view of the same adder. This image also gives an inside view of the Automatic Totalisators factory at Chalmers Street in the Sydney CBD near Central Station. There is an image outside this factory in the Early Factory Images section below.|
|One of the adders to be installed at Brough Park Newcastle Upon Tyne in 1936 shown in the factory. This image shows the top view of the adder and the previous image shows the front view of the same adder. This provides a good view of that Mechanical memory device called the Storage Screw. An engineering drawing of the storage screw can be seen in the first image of the Figures from George Julius' paper presented to the Institution of Engineers Australia in 1920 section below. There is an engineering drawing of the adding shaft in the second image of the section mentioned in the previous sentence. The adding shafts can be seen in this image along the back of the adder occupying approximately on quarter of the depth of the adder. There are three groups of three adding shafts, each group starting on the left hand side with a short shaft followed by two long ones. The Tens Contactor and the Chaser referred to in the associated text of this image, electrically transmit information that drives their respective solenoids in the Coutner Wheel Display in the last of the images in this Brough Park section.|
|This photograph was taken in the factory at Chalmers Street in Sydney. The equipment was for Brough Park Newcastle upon Tyne. It is 10 single shaft 6 escapement adding units on one frame. This represents one third of the Forecast Combination adding units since there are 30 possible combinations in a six dog race. This image has a good view of the Storage Screws with their biscuit shaped cam wheels on them connecting to their respective adding shafts at the back. The first two images in the next section are engineering drawings of the storage screw and adding shaft. The biscuit shaped Cam Wheels just mentioned have a cam follower which drives a contactor which generates pulses that drive Drum Indicators as shown in the next image.|
|This photograph shows a Drum Indicator. It is a commonly used method of display in Julius Totes and is not particular to any installation. It is presented here under Brough Park as it is in the other images of this section that we see the equipment that transmits the data that these indicators use. We have seen counter wheels similar to these in previous images, what is different about this one is that it is not part of an adder and is purely used for display purposes. One of these would be used in an indicator for every runner in a race and another for the grand total. This would then be duplicated for every pool supported by the system. So for example with a maximum field size of 24 you would need 25 of these to build an indicator for one of the Straight Place or Show pools. For all three pools you need 75 of these for the three indicators.|
Figures from George Julius' paper presented to the Institution of Engineers Australia in 1920
|The images in this section are for the technically minded. They are presented here triggered by the writing on the back of the first of the Brough Park photographs. It made reference to the Storage Screws. As I am interested in the analogies between these early mechanical and electromechanical industrial scale computing systems I find the Storage Screws fascinating because it is a delay line and mercury delay lines were used as a fledgling digital computer memory. Although the presentation of these photographs was triggered by the Brough Park images it is clearly evident from many of the other images in the Photo Gallery that these delay lines permeated throughout the early Julius Totes. George Julius presented a paper to the Institution of Engineers Australia on Thursday May 13th 1920 describing these systems, when a machine that had been built and tested capable of supporting 1,000 terminals and a sell rate of 250,000 bets per minute was demonstrated. This image is FIG 10 from this paper. It is interesting to note that George was one of the major founders of the Institution of Engineers Australia.|
|FIG 9 from George Julius' paper that he presented to the Institution of Engineers Australia on Thursday May 13th 1920. It is an image of the epicyclic gear train which implements the primary purpose of the adding shafts and can be seen in many of the images in the Photo Gallery. This gear train can be seen on the right hand side of FIG 10 shown above.|
|FIG 12 from George Julius' paper. It is an image of an escapement wheel, the escapement rocker and the solenoid. The number of these in an adding shaft varied according to the requirements of the system, however in the sample drawing above there would be six of these devices and the escapement wheel shown in this diagram can be seen six times in FIG 10 above as the tall thin rectangles perpendicular to the adding shaft.|
Early Factory Images
|Diane McCarthy who is the treasurer of the Marrickville Heritage Society, has done some research on the location of the early Automatic Totalisators factories in Sydney. She discovered the Alice St. factory was at 146-158 Alice Street Newtown. She wrote The block was from Hawken Street, 11 lots then 146-158 Alice St., then 6 lots to Edgeware Road and these 6 cottages are still there. If you Google the address you will see it is taken up by units and town houses now. She also found from a 1941 phone book after the factory had moved to Chalmers St. in the city, that AUTOMATIC TOTALISATORS LTD had the following addresses. 23 Macquarie Place Sydney BW 4357, Type Depot Central Street Sydney BW 4357, Factory 182 Chalmers Street Sydney Phone MX 1770 BW 4357. Finally, in the 1953 phone book, after the factory had moved to Meadowbank, the final factory, the addresses are Nancarrow Avenue Meadowbank WY 3333 BW 4357. 5 Phillip Street Sydney BU 4583. and 9 Ocean Street Edgecliff FB 1201, which is probably George Julius' residence at the time.
In September 2014, I visited Alice Street in Newtown, following up on Diane's research. I looked for any sign of the substantial building with the ornate roof structure seen peering over the tin shed like factory building in the Newtown Staff photograph below, however there was nothing like it in the vicinity of this factory to be seen. I thought Camdenville Public School on Laura Street, a parallel street to the south of Alice street may have had a building with this ornate roof however I found no trace of it. I walked around the block that surrounded the factory, Alice Street, Hawken Street, Laura Street and Edgeware Road, as well as walking down some of the access alleyways to some of the flats and could not find anything like this ornate roof. I took a photograph of 146 Alice Street which now is a town-house gated community which takes up the whole factory address up to 158. As the town-houses look quite new, I have probably only recently missed out on seeing what existed here prior. I suspect, whatever it was, it probably would not have revealed anything to do with the tin shed structure in the staff image, as due to its flimsy construction, it most likely would have been demolished a long time ago.
|This photograph is labeled First Workshop ATL. Although this building does not look like being inside the shed in the early factory staff image below where the first workshop would have been, the Alice street factory did span multiple blocks and it could be inside another building at this site. I find it interesting that the lathe operator in the foreground is wearing a waistcoat or vest with a watch chain.|
|Another image of the early factory machine shop. I have placed it with the image above as the archways in both images make it look like the same building. The belt driven machines from ceiling drive shafts is interesting.|
|An early factory staff photograph. This is probably the Alice Street Newtown factory in Sydney. The following images are thought to be taken in a building belonging to this factory.|
|An early workshop photograph probably the Alice Street Newtown factory|
|An image of the capacitor manufacture assembly line in the Alice Street Newtown factory. It is interesting to see how primitive early manufacturing conditions were. It looks like this room is in the roof of the tin shed building in the first of the Early Factory Images section above.|
|An image of the adder assembly section. The adders being assembled here are large ones and look like those installed at Longchamps|
|Another image of an early Automatic Totalisators Workshop at Alice Street. There is a bench full of drum indicator parts and a noteworthy man in a Homburg hat interested in the drum indicators.|
|Some staff outside the Chalmers Street Factory which was near Central Station in Sydney. The internal factory images below were taken inside ATL factories. All are thought to be taken inside this one, possibly prior to the top three stories being added. The following image shows this ex factory building in 2014. On seeing this image William Johnson, a long serving engineer and manager with Automatic Totalisators, who spent long periods overseas on iconic projects like Caracas, wrote the following in July 2014 In the foto outside Chalmers street about 1938, I recognise my father, Joe Norris and maybe Don Hardie. Terrific fotos! As William has mentioned his father, it is interesting to note that both he and his father shared the same name William Johnson. His brother Jeff, also worked for Automatic Totalsiators as a computer programmer.|
|This is an image of the ex Automatic Totalisators factory at Chalmers Street as it looks in 2014. The previous image was taken outside this building. This photo was taken standing in Chalmers Street. The gated access visible behind the staff in the above image is at the far left bottom of the building in this photo and is in Belvoir Street. In this image, a Roll-A-Door has replaced the gate. The upper story windows look the same style however the ground floor windows have been replaced. This was the penultimate factory building for Automatic Totalisators. From here the company moved to the final factory building at Nancarrow Avenue Meadowbank. An image of the Meadowbank factory can be viewed below the photo gallery in the previous page of this website under the heading Synchronicity, titled Nancarrow Avenue in front of Factory. To navigate to this page select the previous page button at the bottom of this page. Additionally there are two chapters on the Meadowbank factory titled Memories of the factory and Memories of the factory continued. To view these select the Go to the index button at the bottom of this page and select these chapters in the index.|
|This is an image of the Automatic Totalisators factory at Chalmers Street, probably taken shortly after the additional three stories were added in 1936. The gated access visible behind the staff in the second image above, is at the far left bottom of the building in this photo and is in Belvoir Street. Unlike the modern day image above, the gate in the staff image can still be seen in this image. This page contains an interview Bill Bottomley did with Danny Alexander who was an apprentice in this factory, as well as information on Spencer Grace the MD at the time who was an Olympic rower. Neville Mitchell wrote the following comments about the Automatic Totalisators section of the Danny Alexander interview:
What a great story. It puts a focus on the conditions that we see in the old photos of Chalmers Street. The heat treatment section at Meadowbank was a wonderful piece of engineering material conditioning with many very old techniques being combined with modern technology. The section was managed by "Bob the Red" the only ATL person who admitted he was a communist. Two names I do recall Arthur Reardon & Arch Rimoldi. Both men were tote legends. Danny Alexander's description of the New Meadowbank Factory was just as it was when I started there in 1962. The precise timing of meal breaks and knock off with the collection of all tools held by your docket number. The man who was in charge of the tool store was Ces Freeman, a genuine gentleman. Swearing was never allowed in ATL Meadowbank, Using a four letter word was a sackable offence. Danny's story possibly points to its origin.
|The following four images are associated with each other. Firstly they are taken by the same photographer Exchange Studios and second they all have two letters written on the back "N.B". As N.B is missing the second full stop and as it is not clear what should be noted well I suspect it does not mean Nota Benae. Initials of a person comes to mind however they do not usually have a full stop in the middle. A filing system would probably distinguish between the different photos. I am open to suggestions regarding the meaning of this. Although it is clear that the building structure shown in these photographs is significantly more substantial than that of the shed of the Alice Street images, I have another query regarding these images being taken in the Chalmers Street factory. Investigating Exchange Studios I have found one reference to them being active from 1896 till the 1920s. Another suggests they operated till 1922. If this is the case they were no longer in business in 1930 when the factory moved to Chalmers Street! I am open to suggestions. Hall & Co photographers did most of the previous factory photographs and they seem to have operated till the 1930s. Hall & Co photographers took the above State Library of NSW photograph of the Chalmers Street factory. When attempting to determine which inside factory photos were taken in the Chalmers Street factory, consider the 1936 rates book indicating this is a single story building. It could have looked very different. If the rates book entry is correct, somewhere this building became three stories which later had another three stories added according to a 16th June 1936, Sydney Morning Herald article.|
|An early factory Blacksmith's Shop photograph. The Blacksmith's shop is still going strong in this era of mechanical computing equipment manufacture.|
|An early factory Carpenter's Shop photograph. The Carpenters are also important in this era of mechanical computing equipment manufacture.|
|An Automatic Totalisators machine shop. It is not the first as another photograph is labelled as such and it is obviously in a different building with different machines.|
|Another image of an Automatic Totalisators machine shop. This photograph could have been taken in the same machine shop as the above image. The two roof beams close together, the column headers supporting the beams and the roof joist lateral bracing looks the same. One could contemplate whether this and the last image had the same photographer as both have a prominent person in the foreground.|
Ticket Issuing Machines (TIMs)
|This section gives a glimpse of some of the many models of TIM that Automatic Totalisators Limited, later renamed ATL, manufactured over the decades. I have given a reasonable view of the electronic TIMs here as well, to demonstrate that Automatic Totalisators did make the transition to the computer era and had a significant product line and longevity during that time. It also gives an idea of the diversity of machines across the decades. The J1 through to the J8 TIMs are examples of Mechanical and Electromechanical computing on an industrial scale. The J11 was the first TIM to be specifically developed for a computer totalisator, the system at Aqueduct. Remember, there are one of these for every seller on the customer's racetrack. The system at Aqueduct racetrack in New York city, had 550 J11 TIMs on its own! These are the business end of the earliest multi-user real-time systems.
In June 1986 the Industrial Design Council of Australia granted an Australian Design Award for ATL's J33 Wagering Terminal and the J40 Mark Sense reader. The research and development manager Phil White accepted the award on behalf of the company.
|The inside of a J1 ticket issuing machine 1916. This image shows the TIM with its covers removed. The top of the TIM has buttons to operate it. This TIM was patented in 1914. There is a link in the links page which can be accessed by following the navigation bar at the bottom of this page to the index and then selecting the last chapter 3 More Systems in Asia/Links to Other Pages, to IP Australia where the patent for the J1 is used as an example.|
|The inside of a J1 ticket issuing machine 1916. This image shows the top of the TIM with its side covers in place and the top cover hinged open.|
|This image has been duplicated in the photo gallery and appears in the previous page. This is due to the fact that it belongs to two categories, the other titled Julius Tote equipment used at a Sydney Racetrack. It shows the type of TIM shown in the British Pathé website video clip which identifies it as being in use at a Sydney racetrack in 1927. It is probably either an early J5 or a J4. It is possibly Randwick or Warwick Farm. This TIM implements a method for disabling investments on a runner number higher than the highest numbered runner in the race or a scratching. This function was eventually performed on a remote Raceday Control Console. There is an example of one of these consoles in the Harold Park section of the photo gallery in the previous page of this website. This allowed the valid runners to be defined in one centralised location rather than by every individual operator cutting down further on the possibility of error.|
|The inside of a J6 Ticket Issuing Machine 1935. This photograph shows the TIM in its raised position which provides easy access for maintenance work. Normally the TIM is in a horizontal position and swings on hinges at the bottom of this photo which leaves the controls which are on the other side of the machine flat with the bench top.|
|The J8. Of my time in this business this TIM could be called iconic or famous. It is the most remembered machine of all. It has probably got something to do with the fact that it dates back to a time when betting on the tote was simple without the mass of pools available today. Additionally, there was probably more of this model manufactured than any other. A final factor contributing to the long term memories of operations with this machine, is probably that its swinging arm, made it look like fun to use! Chris Robertson, the most informed punter on the subject of totalisator systems I know made the following observation Swinging the machine's dial looked a lot more fun than pushing buttons on the J10. An image of the J11, which is similar to the J10 Chris refers to, is in the photo gallery below. Chris also made the following observation of this machine in action A house full of J8 machines flat out was something to behold - and to hear. The depressing and release of the issue button had a sound of its own (clackety-clack), and when a whole bank was in action there was plenty of sound. Joe Brandon, from Autotote, Automatic Totalsiators Limited's North American subsidiary gives interesting insight into the J8 and Autotote. Finally, there is a video clip of a similar, earlier TIM, with a swinging arm in action in the Video clips of a working Julius tote chapter of this website, which gives a good idea how this machine worked.|
|The J11. The system at Aqueduct Racetrack New York City, had 550 J11 TIMs. Chris Robertson, the most informed punter on the subject of totalisator systems I know, made the following observation indicating that he thought the J10, which is similar to this J11, was more boring to operate and watch than the J8: Swinging the machine's dial looked a lot more fun than pushing buttons on the J10. An image of the J8, which Chris refers to regarding swinging the machine's dial, is in the previous image. I find this comment similar to the observation that many in the railway industry made, when it transitioned from steam power to diesel power. A common belief was that something interesting had been taken away. Similarly the J11 is a machine in the electronic era replacing machinery from the electromechanical era and I think that is what has led to Chris' observation.|
|A PDP8 based totalisator computer room in North America, probably Georgetown. This image is here because of the row of 11 J11 TIMs across the bottom left side of the photo. These J11s seem to be an earlier version of the one shown above. Machines often had different requirements for different customers so they looked slightly different to each other. This image page, also provides information on the introduction of the PDP8 Totes in North America. After seeing this page, you can read about the development of the PDP8 totalisator for Harold Park Paceway, which was the first electronic totalisator in Australia and more widely the Southern Hemisphere. This can be found in the first part of the Photo Gallery, accessible by selecting the previous page in the Navigation Bar at the bottom of the page, then scrolling down to the "Harold Park Harness Racing Track" section and selecting the thumbnail with the associated text starting "A Raceday Control Console at Harold Park 1958".|
|Part of the J22 production line in the ATL Ltd factory at Meadowbank in 1977. The J22 is significant in the company's TIM history. It was part of the company's first sell pay system. For the first time the TIMs produced a bar code that could be read by the TIM and the validity check and payment amount of the ticket, determined by the totalisator system. Additionally the J22 was the first TIM to utilise a microprocessor, Motorola's M6800. This image shows where the TIMs originated and the next image shows where one ended up long after it became redundant. I remember this TIM architecture well, as this was the first TIM I was associated with as it was a part of the Brisbane PDP11 tote Project. When I started with ATL I worked in the Meadowbank factory on the development of this system and later moved to Queensland with it, where it replaced The Julius totes working there. The J22s replaced J8s working in Brisbane.|
|A retired old workhorse TIM in my garden shed, part of a small tote history display. This and the following two images delve into the technical side of this TIM. It is not intended as an electronics tutorial but a glimpse for the not so technical reader at the engineering side of what the company Automatic Totalisators was all about. It also provides, what is probably a bit of an amusing historic look at the electronics industry long ago, for the technologists to compare with modern day methodology and parameters. The photograph for this image was taken in 2015 probably nearing a quarter of a century since this TIM last operated. The only other J22 still in existence that I know of is in the Powerhouse Museum Collection in Sydney. This image shows one of the last J22s in existence and the previous image shows where they all originated. The old time operators, who in 2011 had worked 3 to 4 decades or more on the Brisbane racetracks, would sometimes recall their favourite TIMs. Almost always these would be either the J8, presented earlier in this section, or the J22, or both.|
|The J22 block diagram extracted from the J22 Technical Manual Part 1. It shows a fold out page from this printed Technical Manual which is typical of manuals supplied with computing equipment of the time. The block diagram shows a modular level of the machine and how the modules all interconnect. A circuit diagram of one of these modules, the Processor PCB (Printed Circuit Board) is in the following image as an example of how the complete machine is documented.|
|The J22 Processor PCB Circuit Diagram, extracted from the J22 Technical Manual Part 2. It shows the details of one of the blocks in the block diagram above as an example of how this information fits together. This too is a fold out page from a manual and although it shows the folds it concentrates on the diagram rather than showing the manual to which it is attached. This diagram shows the M6800, the generic name for this Microprocessor, in this case an M6802, and other support ICs (Integrated Circuits) RAM, ROM Communications adapters etc. which are implemented on this circuit board.|
|An image of the J25 TIM. Following my comments about the J22 above, and the introduction of the PDP11 tote to Queensland, which was the first computer tote on the racetracks there, when the PDP11 tote was superseded by a VAX tote, new J25s were introduced.|
|An image of the J42 TIM. In the latter period of Automatic Totalisators, there were a few of these introduced on the Brisbane racetracks where I worked. This machine catered to TAB operations as it had a mark sense card reader as well as the normal ticket reader. Like all the TIMs after the J22, the J42 was based on a microprocessor, in this case the Motorola M6809. It had up to 52K bytes of memory. How memory capacities have changed!|
|Julius Organ Company Of Australia|
I have included this small section of interest here as this is a page with little text. This section is an example of the diverse subjects that this history embraces.
In February 2014 I received an email from Fred Hawkins, indicating that he was a member of a group recording the history of electronic organs. He was seeking more information on the subject. It was not long before that I was informed that Automatic Totalisators used to manufacture organs through its subsidiary the Julius Organ Company Of Australia. I broadcast an email to the Ex ATL network to see if anyone could provide more information as I had none. Following are the pertinent replies.
Very surprised that there is interest in the ATL Premier Organ project, Its now a long time ago.
I worked for Stromberg Carlson from 1952 until it closed manufacture in 1962, nine years and 10 months. During most of the period I worked in the Stromberg development department as one of the technicians that assisted the senior engineers in the engineering and design of many products. Radio, Television, circulating fans, lawn mowers, Organs etc. It was an era of change, the transistor was only just coming into general production.
The SC Marketing manager Alan Freedman would travel to America annually looking for new advances in consumer technology, he would buy examples of innovative products and send them back to SC's development department, together with the marketing people evolved into new models for local markets. On one occasion Alan sent back two organs, a desk top 22 key toy reed organ, which was good fun to play as the keys were numbered with sheet music also numbered. The other was a Thomas single manual electronic organ, which was selling very well in the USA. It was decided to reverse engineer this organ after obtaining a licence from Thomas. I worked on the project from start to finish "Australianising" all of the electronics and devising the production set up. When all this work was completed I was appointed supervisor of the organ production department. I had a staff of 8-10 all girl immigrants with little English but willing workers. On a daily basis 10 organs a day were made and delivered to the SC distribution company. I was re-assigned back to the development department where we continued to develop a more sophisticated organ.
At this time SC had a general manager, a Harry Ibbotson, a keen organist he also had a good ear for musical tones. I spent many weeks trying to perfect the sounds, musical instruments that it would reproduce over the whole key board. Clarinets and flute tones were particularly difficult to achieve. Early in 1962 SC was in financial difficulties and production stopped; I was given notice finishing in early May 1962.
Harry Ibbotson was now general manager of Automatic Totalisators where he had developed the Julius Premier organ based on the Thomas /SC design. When he learned that there was several SC engineers looking for a job he contacted them including me and six ex SC engineers started new careers at ATL. I started work as the manager of the Julius Organ manufacturing department, on the 23 of May 1962
A staff of three produced three organs a week. Each organ was made to order depending on where it was to be used. We produced many models with variations, tape deck, head phones, radio, record players, bass boost amplifiers and huge speaker housings capable of delivering 120 watts, measured with C played on the pedal clavier which represented a 16 foot pipe.
The Thomas Organ used a shared note system of three adjacent notes on the same tone generator most musicians detected this anomaly; others did not notice the sometimes missing note.
Because the organ department did not have the returns on investment ATL sold the organ business to an enthusiast who continued to make the remainder of the production batch.
I do not have any memorabilia, relating to the organ, however if I can supply any further information please ask.
Neville is pictured above in Melbourne December 1965 after 11 months of work on the four Melbourne city race tracks. I have included this image as it was taken at a time not too far distant from the Julius Organ era. Additionally Bruce Rutter mentions Neville and his work on the Melbourne City racetracks below.
I recall that the General Manager (a Harry Ibbotson) was an organist, and that as we walked down that long corridor from Research, up to the lunchroom at the other end of the building, the melodious sounds of an organ could often be heard wafting from the 'showroom' upstairs at Meadowbank.
I certainly can confirm that we manufactured electronic organs. We sold one to the Catholic Church at Norwood ( I think) an Adelaide suburb in about 1964. It was just before I was appointed as the S A manager and Jimmy Sharpe our SA Engineer used to be called upon to maintain the Organ and I was under the impression it was a bit of a "hot potato" which we were keen to disown. I am unsure of Jimmy's health or whereabouts now.
And a later email:
Great to get your update re the Julius Organs and to read Neville Mitchell's memories of their manufacture. I did not know the history of their existence and apart from Jim Sharpe's experience in Adelaide they were gone before I commenced in Sydney with the Company in September 1964. At that time we were very busy with the first Australian computer system for the Melbourne tracks Neville was very much associated with its installation in Melbourne. See the photograph of Neville above taken after the completion of the Melbourne installation. I was transferred to Adelaide in May 1965 so was not so involved with the factory. After 5 years in Adelaide I had a couple of years in Melbourne before returning to Sydney.
Joe Norris was a great historian on the Company and used to relate stories of activities at Alice St Newtown where I believe it was involved in the War effort during W W 2. Bob Stone and Rod Richards were before my time but I had quite a bit to do with Merv Reid and Grahame Collins - nice guys.
Inside one of the Brisbane tote mobiles
In the above photo, Bruce is on the far right hand side and I, Brian am on the far left hand side. This photo was taken in 1979 during the opening period of the new computer totes that superseded the Julius Totes on the Queensland racetracks. The other two people in the photograph is Dale on the left, a leading programmer and Bob, a long serving Engineering Manager of Automatic Totalisators
I remember going to Southport to finish off a nurse call system with communication to supervisors desk, radio controller, etc in the ladies cancer hospital. Many things were tried including stove clocks which were not very reliable but I think S.L. over-ruled inspection and sent them out. Then one or two big trucks returned them and someone may have been asked to leave. Seems a long time ago.
Whilst I was at ATL in 1961/62 there was talk about Totes making Electronic Organs. Working back one night there was an organ recital at the factory in the canteen area, which was quite an unusual event and pleasant to listen to. This recital possibly had something to do with the organ manufacture, apart from that there is nothing else that I know of.
One other thing that did catch my eye at that time, was bench work being done on a jet propulsion unit for a boat, I take it to be a replacement for an outboard motor, I do not know if anything ever came of the project.
My its a long time ago now since I first met you. Do you remember interviewing me for the job on the radio production line in 1952? I had been working for a small radio repair shop in Chatswood for about a year when I became disillusioned with the routine work of repairing household appliances and radios, and the 5 1/2 day week.
I started on your radio production line, threading dial cord on radio gram chassis' sitting with a very fat lady who was a great instructor. I eventually was able to do most of the work of all the ladies on the line when one was absent.
I was moved into the development department working with Neville Oates, George Jenkins ,Harry Modell all under Allan Scott. I worked on the development of the first 17" television receiver and further TV models, with George Jenkins. I moved into transistor radio design and field testing. then I was involved in the reverse engineering of the Thomas organ including setting up the production line and initial production. Later I was involved with the design of an SC organ with a full keyboard and no shared notes. It was never finished as the company folded in 1962-3
Fred it is great to have you contact me after so many years, 60 to be exact...
Comments and suggestions welcome to firstname.lastname@example.org
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