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 in this field (later part of an oligopoly). If you wish to start from the beginning then go to the index

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George Julius Genealogy and other Latterday Tote Interest

I do not wish to get too involved in George Julius' genealogy; I do not have the time for my own family genealogy! However I have received some Emails from people interested in tracing George's descendants and I have provided some contact details, to facilitate communication amongst them. If you wish to be added to this list please send me email via the email button at the bottom of this page.

Contact details

Wendy JonesGeorge's great granddaughter lost contact
Susan JuliusGeorge's cousin
Diane McCarthyResearching Wendy Whiteley George's (sister's Email address)
Lexie OldlandGeorge's great
Tony ShellshearGeorge's great
Dermot ElworthyGeorge's great
Edward FennGeorge's cousin once

A list of George's close ancestors

A list of George's immediate descendants

Having mentioned Roderick Julius in the list above, I notice that in newspapers of the time, a Roderick Julius was billed in plays. As Roderick Herbert Julius' associate, Clarence Stumbles, was the Publicity Officer of Kings Theatres Pty Ltd, perhaps the aviator Julius and actor Julius are the same person. Charles Stumbles was also the manager of the Rose Bay North Theatre in Sydney.

There is much more information available regarding the Julius family at, following are a few interesting extracts.

The name The Kings Candlesticks comes from candlesticks that King George IV gave to George Alfred Julius' great grandfather Dr. George Charles Julius. King George IV used to stop his carriage when he saw George Charles Julius to tell him There is nothing in the window today. This referred to the way the King signalled whether the royal family had any need for the doctor to visit, by sticking some putty on a window.

This family is traced back, but not proven to John Julius, of Nth Yarmouth, who, in the 17th C, became a sugar planter on the Island of St Kitts, (St Christopher) West Indies. His son Capt William Julius RN was honoured with burial in Westminster Abbey for his success in capturing French naval "Prizes". William's descendants worked the land with their slaves, becoming wealthy and influential. Spreading out across the world.

There is an interesting anecdote relating to William John Julius born in 1726 in St Kitts, which I have summarised. When William lived in Cavendish Square London, he was secretary to the Prime Minister, The Marquis of Rockingham. He lived the life of a fashionable man about town. At this time highwaymen abounded, one of them was Sixteen Stringed Jack considered second only to Dick Turpin. The nickname refers to the 16 various coloured strings he wore on the knees of his silk breeches. The Duke of Argyle out riding one night was bailed up by an armed robber who threatened to shoot him. In reply the Duke drew his pistol and fired at the robber who fled back to London. The Duke who had recognised this renowned highwayman gave chase but was given the slip. The Duke was taken by the highwayman's fine grey horse which reminded him of William Julius' very celebrated four grey horses. He then went to visit William and found he was out to see a play. The Duke interrupted William in his box at the theater and William informed the Duke that he must be mistaken as he had travelled to the theater with the four greys hauling the carriage and that the horses were at the local stables. The Duke convinced Julius to accompany him to the stables. Three of the horses were cold and calm and the fourth was panting and foaming. The Duke recognised William's coachman as Sixteen Stringed Jack who was arrested, tried and hanged at Tyburn. Note: the original document from which this summary was derived is the Julius family magazine Julius Jottings No 4 Jan 1901. I have seen another version of the demise of John Rann (Sixteen String Jack).

Neville Mitchell, a long serving Automatic Totlisators Limited Manager and Engineer made the following comment about George's son Awdry Julius:
The only one I met was Awdry Julius, the chairman of the ATL board about the time when the NYRA project was in progress. We were developing the J11 Issuer. He was a quietly spoken man not terribly tall but he held his position and status very well.
The NYRA project Neville refers to involved the development of the world's first digital computer based totalisator. This was a big project for Automatic Totalsators Limited, the customer being the New York Racing Association (NYRA). The project involved multiple racetracks and massive turnover. The annual turnover at the Aqueduct racecourse alone, exceeded the GDP of two countries at the time.

2015 A Dream Come True

I have presented this event first, out of sequence, as it is the most significant of events in my time associated with this history.

Unbeknown to me at the time, it all started when Joan Coghlan, as tours coordinator with the Sherwood Probus Club, arranged a visit to Eagle Farm Racecourse and the Eagle Farm Racing Museum, when Paul Coghlan, although a Civil Engineer, recognised the totalisator as a unique piece of mechanical engineering. Although Paul did not initially realise its full significance, it was the spark that set the ball rolling for the Julius Tote's engineering recognition.

On the 5th August 2013, I received an email from a friend of mine from Queensland Racing, David Rowan. It passed on a comment received from Paul Coghlan who had been reading the Queensland History of Racing website. Paul read some of my content on that website and his comment read: I'm from the Qld Engineering Heritage Committee of the Institution of Engineers. I would like to speak to you (Brian Conlon) about the Julius Totalisator at Eagle Farm. Thank you. I had no idea at the time, however this was the seed that resulted in an outcome that really goes beyond the title of this section. It is what I would have described as beyond my wildest imaginings, when I embarked on what turned out to be a rather lonely campaign, to try and preserve some of this totalisator history in the early 1980s, when it was rapidly being eradicated. The most dramatic evidence of this disappearance was my seeing three electromechanical Julius Totalisators bulldozed on three racetracks in Queensland.

Paul was looking for some technical information relating to the Julius Totalisator for an Institution of Engineers Australia function being held on the 19th of August, celebrating 100 years since the first Julius tote. I provided information I thought would be of interest and his reply was Thank you so much. It is what I was looking for. As a Civil Engineer I don’t pretend to follow it, but I imagine it should be of interest to the Mechanical and Electrical Engineers present.

Tony Shellshear, Sir George Julius' great grandson, who has a segment below on this page, attended this function on the 19th and made the following observations:
Just touching base quickly after the presentation last night. The evening went very well and had a good attendance; about 50 or so I would guess. The tote itself received a lot of attention.
I took along the old Evans Lathe and some pictures / memorabilia from Sir George which also attracted a lot of interest. During the evening I spoke with several people who raised your name and spoke very highly of the work you have done.
I am keen to get you over for a BBQ to show you what I have accumulated here, and as a means of thanking you for the wealth of information you have provided, not to mention the shaft adder.

And so the dream begins. On 28th April 2014 Paul sent me an email. The opening sentence read: I am working on the submission to obtain Engineering Heritage recognition of the Julius Totalisator which will be awarded by the Institution of Engineers Australia, National Heritage Committee. It contained some outline ideas and solicited more information. This entered a period of collaborative work on the submission with Paul.

Fast-tracking past the project details, on 20th September 2014 I received the following email from Paul: For your information, attached please find the complete submission submitted to the Engineering Heritage Australia Committee who hopefully will grant the award. Thanks to you for your help. It was much appreciated.

Paul's final submission had a title page which credited me for my contribution to it. I found this an amazing recognition of my input to it, and it was like a breath of fresh air from the usually thankless task of trying to preserve some of this history not to mention contending with some of the absolutely opposed opinions and politics. The following is an extract from the title page:
Submitted by: Engineering Heritage Queensland Panel
Prepared for E.H.Q. by Panel Member Paul D. Coghlan
With major information supplied by: Brian Conlon (Retired – Ex Chief Engineer of the PDP11 computer totes that superseded this and other Julius totes in Brisbane)

On 3rd November 2015 Don McKenzie wrote regarding my name on the title page mentioned above. An extract reads: Brian, I can't think of anyone more deserving than you being on the title page of the submission for the award, as you are the one that kept at it, and made the history of ATL really come to life. Many of us tried to get the racing industry involved in the historical support of the tote and failed, but your approach appears to have been extremely successful.

Then on 11th October 2014 I received an email from Paul, the wait was over, he informed me we had been successful and that the Julius Tote had been awarded an Engineering Heritage Marker. And there was More! Not only had it been successful, the submission hit a jackpot that we had not anticipated. It was awarded an Engineering Heritage International Marker. As Paul put it, An International award is very rare. He further informed me that it was the first in Queensland! Then in an email dated 13th October 2014 he informed me that it was the fourth awarded in Australia, the prior ones being for The Carnarvon Deep Space Tracking Station, the World War 2 Liberator Bomber and the Gladesville Bridge in Sydney.

Next came the preparations for the award presentation ceremony. Paul wrote amongst other things, on 24th November 2014 Meeting with the Race Club in a few weeks time to get the totalisator function under way so will keep you posted.

And loose ends to be finished for example Paul's email dated 3rd April 2015 Attached is a photo of the Julius Tote in the Racing Museum in Brisbane. It is a photo which I copied from your website and I am wishing to use it on the Interpretation Panel.
I have sent it to Richard Venus, who is doing the graphic work for the Interpretation Panel; (who may or may not have contacted you on other matters) but he feels the photo itself is not 'big' enough (mb), (this probably because we have copied from the website).
Would you by chance have the original and if so, would it be possible for you to send a copy of it to me to use on the Panel.

I did have the photo, as I had taken the picture decades prior before the frame was repainted. It is the top left hand image in the Interpretation Panel Below.

The Interpretation Panel The Institution of Engineers Australia Interpretation Panel

The Interpretation Panel above was a demonstration of what I found to be unbelievable recognition. There are two names on this panel. Sir George Julius' and mine. It leaves me speechless! Praise beyond my wildest imaginings! Thank you Paul and anyone else involved in putting me on that pedestal. Perhaps this is fitting, as some have thought me possessed by George. Neville Mitchell wrote after seeing the panel: I think you deserve to be mentioned on the Interpretation Panel, you have poured your heart and soul into the Tote history like no other.

Then came the Engineering Heritage Australia National Committee meeting. It was held at Eagle Farm Racecourse Brisbane, to see the Julius Totalisator in the Racing Museum and was held on June 13th 2015. I was asked if I would like to attend as Richard Venus had expressed a desire to meet with me. I attended with the only intention of being an observer and engaging in casual conversation. However when Paul asked if I would like to say a few words about the Julius Tote to the committee, this avalanche effect took place, as happens when a group of intensely interested engineering people keep asking pertinent questions inspiring me to keep going. I felt afterwards that I had gone overboard in monopolising their visit!

Then on 17 August 2015 I received the following from Paul: We have finally got a date for the ceremony for the Totalisator so am just letting you know so you can mark it in your diary. You will receive an invitation in due course. The date is Monday 26th October, 2015. The Governor is going to do the unveiling. The time set is 2.00pm but this is not confirmed yet.

Then on 7th September 2015 Paul sent an email suggesting that I might like to give a talk about the Julius Tote with a list of suggested topics. I was concerned that I was already working on my lateral thinking Father Of The Groom speech for my younger son's wedding which was looming. After some thought, I concluded that being limited to 10 minutes it could not be a major undertaking and accepted.

The day after, Tony Shellshear who had also been asked to give a speech suggested that he and I collaborate so that we avoid presenting the same information. We agreed that I would stick to the Automatic Totalisators side of the History and he would cover the Sir George Julius side of it. Tony has contributed mammoth effort in providing support information for these events. He sets up display panels crammed with information and puts on display major pieces of memorabilia, even George Julius' lathe that he restored to perfection.

On 8th October 2015 I received an email indicating that the dictates of protocol demanded that no speech be in excess of 5 minutes and Tony and I had to rearrange our talks accordingly.

On returning from our son's wedding in Lawrence NSW, where my unconventional speech generated considerable interest, we brought a virus home, which we shared. Just as I was thinking it was a mild dose of flu and I was recovering in time to attend the Award Ceremony at Eagle Farm, the virus rallied and I ended up recuperating in bed as the ceremony was in progress.

When Tony Shellshear, received my apology for not attending the Award Ceremony Event he wrote on the day of the event 26 October 2015: I must say I am devastated to hear you will not be able to attend today; of all people you are the most deserving in terms of your contribution to the assembly and preservation of the history of the totalisator, not to mention the huge effort put into making that history accessible through your website.

And Paul Coghlan wrote: As you say, everything is done for a reason, but we don’t always know what that reason is, do we. I am very sorry you won’t be there today for more reasons than one. I know you would have enjoyed the Totalisator getting some recognition after all your many years of hard work, and it would have been hard for you to make this decision today, but your own welfare comes first. I hope the recovery process is speedy and that you will soon be your 'old' self again.

The decision Paul refers to was not hard to make, there were no options, it was hard to comprehend why now, however I have learnt to be a lot more philosophical about life these days and this event remains a dream beyond my wildest imaginings come true.

Working with Paul Coghlan and Tony Shellshear on this project was a delight in itself. One thing is for sure: I would not have undertaken a project the likes of this during retirement, without someone like Paul to provide all the knowhow regarding the protocol of making a submission such as this and providing the drive and energy to bring it to fruition. Paul was pivotal in this 3 year project. Thank you Paul. Also thank you Tony for your major contribution of time effort and historical knowledge to achieve this outcome. I have not met anyone who knows more about Sir George Julius or has a collection of his memorabilia that is a scratch on yours. And thank you for your major contribution to this website.

Paul Coghlan and the Interpretation Panel Paul Coghlan standing next to the Interpretation Panel

On 2nd November 2015, Rod Shellshear sent an email, following is an extract: May I take this opportunity to thank you on behalf of others within the Julius family and me for all the work you have done to bring this award to fruition.

On the same day Graeme Twycross, ex Automatic Totalisators Limited, who spent decades in the industry as an engineer and manager wrote: It is a credit to you in your perseverance and dedication in collecting, collating and distributing the history of the tote. You deserve the accolades that come your way.

On 7th November, Dermot Elworthy, George Julius' great nephew wrote regarding this event. Following is an extract:
Firstly, please may I add my congratulations to those you already have received.
Preservation of artefacts representing past national achievements is not easy in a country like the UK where, sadly, national achievement generally is viewed through the prism of history but in a young, infinitely more vibrant and forward-looking nation like Australia, engendering a public appreciation of these historic milestones must be so much more difficult, particularly when faced with the degree of apathy evinced by the Antipodean racing fraternity. You have promoted the cause of Australian engineering and assiduously sought to achieve a wider recognition of the Julius tote and what it represented. This was an unique concept and something of exclusively Australian development - things nationally to be celebrated. Your website is a tremendous accomplishment and the prestigious acknowledgment by the Institution of Engineers Australia is nothing less than you deserve. I have some idea of how much Narelle must have supported you in all this, so my hat goes off to you both.

I have presented Tony's and my talk for this event next. I have used the original 10 minute versions as they convey more information about the history.

Tony Shellshear's 10 minute speech

If I were to ask an average group of Australians what an Irish engineering genius with a wicked sense of humour, an Anglican Primate with a strong stance against gambling, and the inventor of the automatic totalisator, had in common, their response might possibly be ‘not very much?’. To which my response would be ‘Want a Bet?’

George Alfred Julius was born at Norwich, England on 26th April 1873, to Churchill and Frances Julius. The Anglican Primate I referred to was his father Churchill, an Archbishop of New South Wales, before taking on the role of Primate of New Zealand. Many may be familiar with just one of his contributions to the church in Christchurch Cathedral, sadly lost in the more recent earthquakes in that city. He was also very active in promoting women’s rights, and in his stance against the dubious practices and corruption in the gambling industry.

The Irish engineer was C.Y O’Connor, the Chief Engineer in Western Australia at the time, and is remembered for the famous water pipeline to Kalgoorlie, and for Fremantle Harbour, which caters for the world’s largest ships even today, virtually unchanged in over 100 years.

Evidence of his wicked sense of humour is seen in his choice of names for his newly born daughter. Charles was in Ireland at the time at an engineering conference, and visited a local library to find the most ancient and odd names he could find, which he duly sent by telegram to his wife in Perth. Sadly, (?) had no sense of humour at all, and the girl was christened ‘Eva Dronghsia Odierna O'Connor’; the ‘Eva’ being added by her mother so she didn’t have to go through life being introduced by those dreadful names.

The connection? George married Eva on 7th December 1898, at St John's Church, Fremantle. I still have fond memories of this fine and strong lady, who survived until I was around 20.

George and Eva were blessed with three sons, the youngest of whom, George, became famous in his own right … as the ‘tidy’ bandit, ‘Gentleman George’. Whenever he broke into houses he found in a mess, he would take the time to tidy them up. And he always made sure the house was securely locked before leaving; still taking the valuables I might add.

The second Rod, was a celebrated commercial airline pilot, sadly killed at just 39 in a plane crash.

The eldest, Awdry, followed in his father’s footsteps as an engineer, in time assuming the role as head of the highly renowned consulting practice his father would establish.

In his early years, Awdry was his father’s ‘tradesman’s assistant’; whenever George was working on a mechanical project, Awdry was expected to be able to predict what tool his father would require next, and what size, and to have it to hand when required. There are many similar recollections on a series of radio interviews done by the ABC with Awdry in the 1970’s.

Early years

George was educated at Melbourne Church of England Grammar School and then at Canterbury College in Christchurch, New Zealand, where he completed a Bachelor of Science (Mechanical Engineering) in 1896. Later, in 1919, has was awarded a Bachelor of Engineering from the University of Sydney; engineering was no longer a science?

Between 1896 and 1907 he worked for Western Australian railways, during which time he published three important works on the physical characteristics and economic uses of Australian hardwoods. These are still considered valuable references today.

In 1907, George moved to Sydney as consulting engineer to Allen Taylor & Co. Ltd, timber merchants, at the same time establishing his private practice, later to become Julius, Poole and Gibson. His farewell card from WA Railways indicates clearly the high regard in which he was held.

Between 1907-1910 George used an old English ‘ornamental turning lathe’ to create the components for the first totalisator prototype, which still exists, and is now acknowledged as one of the more treasured exhibits in the Powerhouse Museum in Sydney.

The lathe, made by John Evans of London in around 1830, was originally owned by one Richard Crawshay, one of two brothers who at the time were iron and steel magnates, with ironworks in England and Wales. This lathe too, still survives, and I have spent the last five or so years restoring it, and trying to figure out how half of the tools and accessories work!

There is no record as to where and when the lathe came into Sir George’s possession, but I now strongly suspect he inherited it from his father, the Archbishop. Churchill loved things mechanical, as evidenced by his passion for the newly invented and terrifying ‘motor cycle’ and ‘motor car’. Churchill is documented to have had a lathe as part of his workshop, and his reputation as the person to whom to turn to have complex mechanical devices, particularly clocks, fixed, was quite significant in his later life.

I now also have, to display alongside the lathe, a shaft adder from one of the early totalisators, courtesy of Brian Conlon, who will talk in more detail on the totalisator history. I would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge the immense amount of work Brian has put into accumulating and documenting the history of the totalisator, and of Sir George. I’m very grateful for his efforts, and continue to find his website a great source of information.

Sir George grew to acquire a reputation for his technical genius; some referred to it as ‘engineering wizardry’. Over the ensuing years, Julius Poole and Gibson, and specifically Sir George, were retained by Commonwealth and State Governments as advisers in many national engineering projects.

In 1913 he was elected president of the Engineering Association of New South Wales, and in 1925, President of The Institution of Engineers, Australia. He was also a member of Council of the Electrical Associations of New South Wales, and its President in 1917-1918.

As one of the founders of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, ( now CSIRO ) he was appointed the first Chairman in 1926, retaining the position until 1945. Also in 1926, having fostered the formation of the Australian Commonwealth Engineering Standards Association, ( the Standards Association of Australia), he became President until 1939. Between 1940 and 1945 he was Chairman of the Australian Council of Aeronautics, having been instrumental in establishing an Aeronautical Research Laboratory

Other of his numerous roles over the years included Chairman National Research Council, Chairman of the Army Inventions Directorate, and President of the Rotary Club of Sydney.

Awards and Achievements

It probably comes as no surprise then that George was created a Knight Bachelor in 1929, becoming ‘Sir George’.

In 1927 he was awarded the Peter Nicol Russell Memorial Medal of The Institution of Engineers, Australia; in 1938 the William Carlos Kernot Memorial Medal by the University of Melbourne, and in 1940, an Honorary Degree as Doctor of Science of Canterbury University College, Christchurch, New Zealand.

In his honour, the Sir George Julius Medal was initiated by Engineers Australia shortly after his death, and is still awarded today.

Public service

Sir George was also a man who gave selflessly of his time, and money, to the public welfare and education sectors. One of Sir George’s hobbies was playing with model trains would you believe; and he had constructed over the years a model town, centred around the railway. But this was a model town ‘Sir George’ style! A Model City no less. It is recorded that he had put some £10,000 into its construction.

During the Second World War, the model city was placed on display in each capital city, with visitors charged 6 pence for a half-hour tour. All funds raised went to the Red Cross.

He devoted time to providing what were no doubt celebrity lectures at Universities in engineering and science. By all accounts students were then as they are today, often noisy and somewhat inattentive at times. Sir George had a ‘party trick’ that was apparently very effective; on entering a noisy call room he would simply walk up to the blackboard, pick up the chalk, and draw a large circle. The lecture room would instantly go quiet, following which applause often broke out. Sir George had an uncanny ability to draw a virtually perfect circle freehand – He had their attention!

Sir George’s wife Eva, ( she of the ‘orrible name ), now Lady Julius, also devoted significant time to community causes and activities, becoming a Patron of the Country Women’s Association, and State Commissioner for Girl Guides, an organisation in which her grand-daughter, my mother, was also heavily involved.

The Man

Sir George passed away in Sydney, Australia, on 30th June, 1946.

On his passing, many tributes were written and published in a myriad of newspapers and magazines, although nothing, thankfully appeared on Facebook… These, along with his eulogy, provide a small window into the character of a man of strength and of genius. In closing, I can do no better than to quote from these sources -

‘With his rather gaunt face, his crop of curly brown hair, and his very luminous blue eyes', Julius was slight in build. He was always mentally alert and spoke in a staccato manner. He could be autocratic, impatient, even choleric, but those qualities were disciplined by his sense of fair play, his quick sense of humour, his objectivity in scientific judgement and his keen political sense'.

‘His faults were the faults of greatness, the kind that those who knew him well smiled over and rather liked him for. His conviction. of the soundness of his views made him a difficult opponent to deal with in debate. His hatred of all the meanness of the spirit made him intolerant of pettiness, small-mindedness and mental weakness. He could not dissemble when disgust at evidences of such attributes swayed him.’ (He spoke his mind)

‘He had the gift also of understanding the other man's point of view, and this enabled him to become a convincing exponent of the practical value of scientific research when governments had to be persuaded to make adequate funds available, and other interests had to be won over to co-operative effort.’

To me, one of his finest legacies to us as a family, was his documentation of the Julius Family History compiled during his brief period in retirement.

‘Sir George Julius will ever be remembered as a notable engineer and scientist, a successful leader and administrator, a truly great Australian citizen, and a generous-hearted and lovable man.’


Brian Conlon's 10 minute speech

History of the Julius Tote

How does one present 150 years of totalisator history in ten minutes? By concentrating on 50 years and then fast tracking past next to all of that.

It is an irony that for a nation that stops for a horserace and one in which most citizens know what a TAB is, that next to nothing is known about the 50 years of rich, uniquely Australian, totalisator history that existed prior to the advent of the TABs.

The world’s first automatic Totalisator was invented by George Julius here in Australia in 1913 and was installed at Ellerslie in Auckland New Zealand where it operated successfully. The second installation, was at Gloucester Park in Perth in 1916 and the third installation was here at Eagle Farm in 1917 and the one here in the museum was installed around 1948.

That first system at Ellerslie, which was purely mechanical, was described as a giant tangle of piano wires, pulleys and cast iron boxes and although many racing officials predicted that it would not work it was a great success. This disbelief from people observing Julius installations for the first time continued even after it was a well-established product. As Jack Bell wrote in his 1932 Miami Herald article regarding the Julius Tote being installed at Hialeah which was electromechanical, the old time horsemen around the track will tell you in no uncertain terms that the damn thing will never work. They look at all the Mechanism and shake their heads knowingly. Jack calculated it had 195 miles of electrical cable.

George founded the Australian company Automatic Totalisators Limited in 1917 to further develop and export these systems. It started out dominating the industry globally and later became part of an oligopoly.

Where were they installed

One chronological snapshot of installations during the Julius Tote era has a full A4 page of installations in Australia and two and a half A4 pages of New Zealand ones and includes many others overseas. A 1970 company article during the computer tote era indicates ATL had installations in 29 different countries.

Automatic Totalisators had subsidiary companies overseas, I will mention only one Atusa renamed Autotote which was a major manufacturing subsidiary in the USA, with a history equal to that of the parent company that it outlived.

In the home region, Automatic Totalisators had branches in the North and South Islands of New Zealand and in every state of Australia with a head office and factory in Sydney.

How the tote works

For those who do not know what a totalisator system is, if you know what a TAB is, then very simplistically, their computer systems, networks, peripherals, software and a myriad of display electronics providing the betting and information services are the totalisator of today.

We did not arrive at this level of functionality in a hurry however, it was a result of continuous development over the 150 years since Catalan come Frenchman Joseph Oller, invented the Pari Mutuel method of betting on which all totalisators are based and he started operating a manual totalisator conducted from horse drawn wagons.

Two of these developments stand out. First George’s automatic totalisator and second the computerisation of the totalisator pioneered by George’s company which developed the world’s first electronic computer based totalisator system for the New York Racing Association. You might think this would have been a small trial system, it was a big project involving multiple racetracks and massive turnover. Aqueduct racetrack alone had an annual turnover exceeding the GDP of two countries.

Having mentioned large, the French contract for the Julius Tote in Paris was Australia’s largest financial transaction with France at the time. This system at Longchamps took the title The Largest Totalisator in the world from the Julius Tote in Bombay India and later lost it to the Julius tote in White City London.

Significance of the Julius Totes

It is interesting to compare the Julius tote with its successor, electronic digital computers. The simplest block diagram you can draw of a digital computer consisting of four boxes can equally be applied to the Julius tote however below that level the architectures are radically different.

I have some video clips on my website on this subject, produced by the Greater London Industrial Archaeological Society as a part of their study of the Harringay Julius Tote. I don’t think there would be anyone today seeing the clip showing the Julius Terminal in operation that would not say this is part of a computer system.

Dr. Doron Swade MBE, wrote, relating to the London Science Museum that the Julius tote is the earliest on line real time data processing and computation system that the Curators of the London Science Museum had identified.

The Computer Conservation Society, a sub group of the British Computer Society, indicated that they regarded the Julius Tote to be a computer.

Many of the metrics are the same. Regarding metrics, a system was built and tested Sydney 1920 capable of supporting 1000 terminals and a sell rate of 250,000 transactions per minute; This is good by today’s standards.

The Julius tote had electromechanical Time Division Multiplexers. I have not met any technologist who is not astounded to hear that Time Division Multiplexers existed prior to the electronics that made them a common concept.

Early Julius Totes, also had a device called a storage screw. Storage is an essential concept to digital computers and perhaps the storage screw is the first use of the word storage in the sense of artificial memory.

An Automatic Totalisators France Limited Prospectus written in 1927 refers to computing and indicating of totals. If this is the first use of the word computing to refer to a machine, as previously people performed computing, then by deduction the Julius tote is the first machine to be called a computer.

I end this talk with a comment from Emeritus Professor Trevor Cole from Sydney University who said of George Julius We should be aware of our engineering heroes. Hopefully this award will raise Australia’s awareness of George Julius their engineering hero and this Australian achievement.

A Christmas Postscript

And you, dear reader, probably thought that there is nothing more that could be written about the Julius Tote Heritage Award. But wait - there's more: Mick Gulovsen an ex-ATL Tote Engineer in Victoria wrote to me asking how to acquire a higher resolution copy of the Interpretation Panel as he wanted to present it to Don McKenzie as a Christmas present. Don is another ex-ATL Tote Engineer in Victoria who had worked on the Julius Totes, which this award relates to, as well as the later computer totes.

On 3/11/2015 Mick wrote the following extract from an email: I wonder if you have a high quality version of the photo of the interpretation panel and if you wouldn't mind me using to to blow up as a Christmas present for Don?

On 26/12/2015 Mick wrote another email, following is an extract:
I got the print done just under 16" wide which fit perfectly in a frame I think was 17x14" size. I am fairly sure Don was surprised and appreciated the picture of the panel he said he can now actually read the text.
I previously sent Don the high quality image of the kid with a gear in his hand in front of the racks of rather large odds display wheels, I joked that it was Don's job to strip them down and rebuild it again and that he had a gear left over...

On 26/12/2015 Don McKenzie wrote the following extract from an email to Mick and Myself:
Yes, we had a great Christmas up here in Darwin. Has been wet, wet, and wet, and a little rain to top it off. :-)
Mick, yes very surprised and did appreciate the picture of the panel. Haven't even thought about where to hang it as we had to get into the "We are going to Darwin for Christmas" mode quickly.

On 6/03/2016 Don wrote another email, long after "We are going to Darwin for Christmas" mode was over. Following is an extract that replies to my question about what happened to his Presentation Panel Christmas present:
Mick gave me the framed copy, which I quickly, and proudly hung up in the hallway at home.

It might look like this is the end, but there is one of those coincidences that I regularly experience with this history, which occurred the following year! On March 19 2016 Narelle and I visited long-time friends Kirk and Von in Geelong for a couple of days. I met Kirk at a DEC (Digital Equipment Corporation) course on PDP11 hardware conducted by Ray Warner in 1978, when Kirk was working for Queensland University ( later renamed the University Of Queensland to avoid confusion with QUT ) and I had recently started working for Automatic Totalisators Limited. During the visit Kirk told me that a friend of his, who is on the Institution of Engineers Australia Engineering Heritage Committee, mentioned that he had attended the presentation ceremony of the IEAust International Marker, that had been awarded for the Automatic Totalisators Limited's Julius Totalisator. Kirk asked him if he knew me. His friend replied definitely.

2015 A Very Special ATL Reunion Dinner

I have also presented this event out of sequence, as it is a major personal event for me and could be considered an adjunct to the previous event. It certainly immediately followed the completion of the previous event.

The Automatic Totalisators Limited reunion held on 9th December 2015 was very different to any other I have attended. The first thing I found odd was that about twice the number of people I was expecting to see attended. Russell Graham originated the idea that made this dinner different and Nick D'Angelo did the communicating and had to ensure whenever he sent broadcasts that I was not included. Warwick Halcrow informed me after the event, that half the people came for the food and the other half for me.

The first action that took place, which made me realise that we were deviating from the norm, was Nick D'Angelo striking a glass with a spoon loudly and calling for QUIET. Neville Mitchell then commenced to make a speech and I thought that today must have been the anniversary of some company special event. I was surprised when Neville started to talk about me and he soon became emotional about the subject, prompting Warwick Halcrow to take over the speech. Neville's Speech follows:

Written by Neville Mitchell delivered by Warwick Halcrow

Firstly let me welcome you all here this evening and I suggest that we thank Nick for arranging this occasion and all the past occasions, which have been a wonderful way to keep us ex ATLers in touch each year.

Tonight I would like to say something about the Totalisator Website that Brian Conlon has built after many years of research and hard work putting together the history of the totalisator, while paying particular attention to its founder Sir George Julius. Along the way Brian and Narelle have travelled widely both nationally and internationally visiting museums and race tracks in their search for the history of the man and his miraculous totalisator machines.

I think I would be correct in saying that most of you here tonight have spent time browsing the extensive totalisator website, now consisting of many contributions by people who worked for, or were associated with ATL over many years.

I have been a friend of Brian's for some thirty odd years. He first came to my notice when he joined the company working with Ron Hood in the installation department. In fact we had actually worked on the building of the new Queen Elizabeth Grand Stand at Randwick Racecourse. Brian was working for AWA on the CCTV and Sound systems. I was project managing the tote side however our paths never crossed whilst on this installation which historically was the first CCTV system installation on any racecourse.

When Brian became oncourse computer tote engineer manager with ATL in Brisbane we did not get to see each other very often.

About the year 2001, I was involved with the Powerhouse Museum's 100 years of Wagering in Australia exhibition. I met up with Brian and Bob Plemel in the archives of the Powerhouse Museum. This meeting was the start of literally hundreds of emails answering and asking questions that Brian had in relation to the tote company's long history.

Brian was fascinated by the Julius Totalisator machine at Brisbane's Eagle Farm Racecourse. He took it upon himself to get the machine restored to a stage where all its working parts could be viewed, while Brian explained its functions to the people who visited the site. The restoration involved many ex tote engineers trying to get together the missing bits and pieces and emails were flying regarding the signage, which were finally answered by an ex New Zealand engineer Del Linkhorn and Bill Johnson, who both had a long association with Julius electromechanical totes.

In recent times the Eagle Farm Historical Totalisator site, has been recognised and a Dedication Plaque was presented by the State Governor.

Of late, the people gathered here tonight have long thought that Brian's work should in some way be recognised, for his passionate efforts in promoting ATL Totalisator history. So a group got together and were able to source a unique piece of Julius Tote memorabilia, which we present to you in appreciation of your efforts.

Tony Shellshear made some notes to be read out after the presentation. This was a clever deception that worked very well, to keep me from initially realising that the presentation sliderule was the personal property of Sir George Julius, leaving this for the very effective final astounding revelation. During the presentation, when I was handed the sliderule and removed it from its carry case, I firmly believed that the sliderule I had been presented with had been sourced on Ebay and that it was the same as the one in Alan Bromley's collection, which was probably the same as one used by Sir George. There were voices prompting me to realise that it was in fact Sir George's personal sliderule, however I was slow to come to this realisation. George's name on the back, that the voices were prompting me to read, is not written in ink. It is indented into the varnished wood and it took some time to get the light to shine on the back of the slide rule at an angle of incidence that revealed the name. I thought they were pulling my leg, but when I eventually saw it, I was astonished. It was a mind boggling experience!

Delivered, by Warwick Halcrow.

To recognise the Contributions you have made to the assembly and preservation of Totalisator history I wanted to find something to give you that was in some way connected to your field and of IT compatibility.
In browsing round the internet I came across an item in the Powerhouse Museum that belonged to Professor Alan Bromley with whom you are familiar.
We managed to find an identical item {On Ebay} which we would like you to have as a token of our gratitude.

After Brian opens the Slide rule Neville please point out that the previous owners name is on the back imprinted in the varnish finish is the name GEORGE JULIUS.

Being presented with George Julius' sliderule is a mind blowing experience in itself, I regard this particular sliderule as the "Holy Grail" of Totalisator history, however the display case is a whole other present in itself which obviously involved a lot of thought and effort.

Tony Shellshear, George Julius' great grandson, provided the sliderule and later told me that he has never given away any piece of George's memorabilia to anyone outside the family before. I cannot imagine how he managed to part with this highly sought after piece of his family's history. Tony also designed and built the display case.

Russell Graham wrote the following It was a pleasure to work with Tony S on this project. He has inherited some of the family’s creative genius.

George's Sliderule in the Presentation Case George Julius' sliderule presented to Brian Conlon

Russell Graham wrote to me about the above image Tell Narelle that she is allowed to bump you in the ribs if you spend too much time gazing at the case!

Before proceeding with more on the sliderule, I must point out that this presentation was not just for me but for Narelle as well. No not for being tolerant of my obsessional interest in this subject, but for actually having encouraged me in this venture and furthermore for her significant contribution to the research of it. Narelle received a very nice bottle of Moet which I know she will thoroughly enjoy and share.

Now back to the sliderule, following is the text from the left hand side of the presentation label:

Presented to
Brian Conlon

For services and commitment in promoting and preserving
ATL Totalisator history.

Thankyou Brian, from your friends and ex-colleagues, -
December, 2015

Following is the text from the right hand side of the presentation label on the glass cover:
This slide rule was used by Sir George Julius in creating the history that Brian has so earnestly chronicled and shared with us all. It is another piece of history to remind Brian of how we appreciate the dedication and passion he has shown in his pursuit of totalisator history around the world and in how he has promoted the history in many forums.
Appreciation and thanks go to Tony Shellshear for providing Sir George Julius' slide rule for use in this award.

There are two pieces of metalwork in the display case with engravings. Each one is a metal strip with teeth cut into the upper edge. The left hand strip has a cog on top engaging the edge teeth. This is a mechanism that George Julius used to describe epicyclic gears being used in an adding or subtracting operations as documented in the Mechanical Aids to Calculation chapter of this website.

The left hand strip engraving reads Sir George Julius' Personal Computer and the right one reads Presented to Brian Conlon - December 2015

The manufacturers label on the rear of the Sliderule reads:

147, Holborn Bars, London, E.C.
Sole Maker for Great Britain.

On the front centre of the sliderule, on the top of the sliding part, is printed in red ANDERSONS IMPROVED SLIDE RULE. This model was manufactured from 1904 to 1910. The Patent text on the front, to the left of the previous text, also in red reads PAT. GT. BRITN 22/4/03 PAT. U.S.A. 30/8/04 the years referring to 1903 and 1904. I replaced my sliderule as a student, with a hand held electronic calculator, a HP21, around 1971 or 1972.

Even the box that Tony had used to protect the sliderule and its display case during transportation, has a totalisator history pedigree. Although the ink with which it was written has run, probably due to being wet at some time, it is still possible to read ATL LONGCHAMP FRANCE. There are images with associated information relating to the Julius Tote at Longchamp Paris and Automatic Totalisators France Limited in the Photo Gallery + Synchronicity chapter of this website, under the photo gallery heading starting Longchamps Paris 1928.

Russell Graham later informed me that one of the group who organised this event wrote in an email to him: I commend you on this initiative to show the credit that needs to be duly dumped on him.

When speaking at the presentation replying to the presentation speech, I was in a euphoric state and did not have time to think about it, consequently I made a major omission when speaking of contributors to the cause of keeping the company memory alive.

One obvious and kingpin contributor to this cause is Nick D’Angelo which Neville Mitchell noted in his speech. I think that without Nick, in all likelihood these reunions would never have started, let alone develop into these annual meetings that have continued for decades after the demise of the company, on which our reunion is based. I suspect that without Nick stepping up to organise this event year in year out, it would end.

Furthermore from my perspective, the only reason I have the wide connectivity with the ex ATL fraternity is Nick, as it is Nick’s email list that I use to communicate with everyone. Without this connection I suspect that my motivation to persevere with my research into this history would have been significantly diminished.

So in summary, without Nick's efforts throughout the decades the 2015 ATL reunion, which has been such a mind blowing event for me, would not have happened at all.

It was a real pleasure that Merv and Delma Cathcart drove all the way down to Sydney from Brisbane to attend this reunion for the first time. Merv and I worked together on the Queensland racetracks for many years and have weathered many totalisator storms together. It is amazing that they attended this particular reunion dinner, which was such a special occasion for me. Merv knew about the presentation and like the rest, kept the secret very well.

Horses buttonGo back to the index    Horses buttonGo to the bottom of the page

Other items put on display at this event:
Tony Shellshear brought George's Knighthood medallion and his Australian Racing Hall of Fame induction pin and an Institution of Engineers Australia Julius Medal. Tony put them on display for the reunion dinner attendees. Bob Moran brought a Julius tote adding shaft that demonstrated the workings of the epicyclic gear arrangements, as well as one of his engineering drawings of a Julius tote shaft adder and a Powerpoint presentation of the working segment of the Broadmeadows Julius tote used in the Powerhouse Museum's Gambling expo.

As I have mentioned Bob Moran above, it seems appropriate to provide the following image of a Julius Tote centenary memorial he made commemorating a hundred years since the world's first automatic totalisator commenced operation. He presented this to me at last year's Automatic Totalisators Limited reunion dinner in recognition of my contribution to the preservation and promotion of this history. Thanks again Bob, much appreciated, as is your outstanding contribution to this subject. The Centenary took place the year prior to Bob's presenting me with this memorial.

Bob Moran's Centenary commemoration present Bob Morans Centenary Memorial presented to Brian Conlon

Other items received at this event:
John Pickering an ex-ATL sales manager who attended the reunion from Manila, gave me a set of ATL cufflinks in brand new condition. Lachie Macdonald, an Ex-ATL engineer, gave me a set of photographs from the Ipoh and Penang installations in the PDP11 computer era. Bill Johnson an ex-ATL engineer and manager gave me some negatives of the Caracas installation. Caracas was a Julius Tote system. There are some very interesting photos, so far as I can tell from the negatives and I am looking forward to getting some prints made of these. There is a chapter on Caracas in this website titled Caracas a latterday Julius tote installation. Bill also gave a talk relating to an event on a Penang installation, which may have been in the Julius Tote era. There was an image of a Julius tote there amongst the photos of the PDP11 systems that Lachie just gave me, which presumably was being replaced by the PDP11s.

Russell Graham wrote the following about my reaction to this event I am so glad the award/event worked and had the desired effect on you.

Some Email Comments

Brian Killin wrote on 11/12/2015: We were all very delighted that your efforts have been recognised. Without such endeavours our history is greatly diminished.

Max Burnet, ex CEO of DEC Australia (Digital Equipment Corporation) wrote on 11/12/2015 relating to the sliderule presentation: I heard there was something special happening for you but every one was sworn to secrecy worthy of the DoD. And what a wonderful icon to add to your Eagle Farm display.
Max also wrote relating to the ex Digital Equipment Corporation employees morning coffee get together that Narelle and I attended: Thanks for coming to the PH pub coffee morning. A lot of retired engineers miss the conversations around the office café bar and enjoy the chance to get together. It is nice to be able to introduce talented visitors like the Conlons.

Max Burnet, after I sent him a photo of George's sliderule, wrote again on 12/12/2015, with a very interesting observation regarding the sliderule: What an unusual, early slide rule. I have never seen such a one in my travels. However, if you google “Andersons improved slide rule” the Powerhouse Museum have one.(in the Prof Alan Bromley collection) I suspect that is the only other one in Australia.
Your one has a wonderful provenance, imagine how many ATL and CSIR projects were evaluated by Sir George Julius with it?

Warwick Halcrow wrote on 12/12/2015 to Neville Mitchell and others who organised this event, prompted by Neville who thanked him for presenting his speech. An extract follows: I have also been both an on-course and off-course friend of Brian and Narelle's for over thirty years and it was my privilege, no honour, to be able to present your notes of gratitude to Brian at the ATL Xmas 2015 reunion. Brian has already expressed his delight on the reception of his award and I also express the gratitude of all to Tony Shellshear for this exceptional heirloom from the Julius family.

Bill Johnson wrote on 12/12/2015 It was a great night especially your surprise. Food was good too. Best in the dinners I have attended.

When I thanked Nick D'Angelo for his significant input to this presentation, as this event would not have taken place at all if it was not for Nick's annual ATL reunion dinners, he replied on 13/12/2015 with some details about the development of this annual event, which was broadcast to the people on the invite list:

Thank you for your kind words. Who would have thought that this all started as a means to have a Christmas drink and catch up with some work colleagues/friends after they had left ATL. The original group in the mid 80's was just myself and Ziz, and then Richard having a drink at Mary's Pub at West Ryde. Then it became a dinner rather than just drinks, and included more people from the ATL technical department.

Over the years it's expanded with people from all departments, and some from pre 80's era, as well a few others with special connection to ATL. And with everyone on email now, it's certainly much easier to organise than previously calling everyone individually.

These days our reunions are usually getting about 30 people attending, and I'm always amazed at how many people travel large distances to come along - from Brisbane, Canberra, Melbourne, Adelaide, Central Coast, Wollongong, Newcastle, Port Macquarie, and even from The Philippines.

So thanks to everyone for coming along and being part of it.

Rod Richards wrote on 13/12/2015: Congratulations Brian for a job well done. Sir George’s slide rule is very appropriate and a wonderful gift. I am glad you had a good night as I heard on the grape vine that something special was planned.

An extract from an email Neville Mitchell sent on 15/12/2015: It was indeed a great night I’d say best so far congratulations to Nick and all whose who participated in arranging the presentation to Brian & Narelle. We met up with Brian & Narelle and Commander David Hamilton and his wife Erella in the a coffee shop at Lake Parramatta on Friday morning. We had a two hour talk fest, Brian brought along the Slide rule to show David, who you may remember was NSW oncourse manager for 17 years.

Joe Brandon, an engineer and manager of Autotote, the company that used to be ATL's subsidiary in the United States wrote on 18/12/2015 Sir George's slide rule? Holy Moley! Golden Grail doesn't even do it justice. How incredibly cool!

On 21/12/2015 Emeritus Professor Bob Doran from Auckland University, who is a totalisator history expert, wrote: Congratulations on your award. That looks like a nice slide rule in itself but very special with the Julius name on it!

On 23/12/2015 Nick D'Angelo broadcast the following wrap-up of the 2015 ATL reunion dinner.

Just a wrap up on our recent reunion dinner. A great time had by all, made especially memorable with the surprise presentation to Brian Conlon for his ongoing commitment in preserving ATL Totalisator history.

Originally suggested by Russell, we didn’t know what item of memorabilia we might come up with from our group, given the limited timeframe. So when out of the blue, Tony Shellshear (Sir George Julius’ great grandson) offered Sir George’s personal slide rule, we knew that would be hard to top as such a truly unique piece of ATL history. Thankfully we were able to keep it all quiet from Brian so it could be a big surprise on the night. And we also fortunate to have Tony attend the dinner as well to magnify the impact with the family connection. His attendance wasn’t a giveaway though, because behind the scenes Brian had also been trying to get Tony to come along to the dinner for the first time. So much skulduggery going on !

On the night, Brian was indeed surprised and blown away by the presentation, and has recounted the evening on his website. Check out the video when available.

I’d like to thank Tony Shellshear for his very generous gesture in parting with such a family heirloom, and organising the impressive display case. It looks fantastic.

Thanks to all those that came along this year, particularly from the longer distances, and interstate and overseas. It’s always good to catch up with you.

Brian writing: I have omitted Nick's section on the video of the occasion as this went through many permutations and the latest version is presented at the end of this section.

There were a few dollars left over from the night, so I’ll get a lotto ticket for the big draw around New Year. Never know your luck.

So until next year, have a safe and happy Christmas, and all the best for the New Year.

John Pickering wrote on 23/12/2015 to Nick D'Angelo and the ATL invite list. Following is an extract:

As usual you did a great job in arranging the dinner. We are fortunate to have you to arrange and coordinate the dinner each year. I always enjoy catching up with my friends from yesteryear.

The presentation to Brian for his work on the ATL history was the highlight of the evening. Wow what a great gift of Sir George Julius's slide rule. It was great to see how much this unique gift was appreciated by Brian. Special thanks to Neville for his speech and for his continued contribution to the ATL history.

On 24/12/2015 Bob Moran wrote to Narelle and I:

Once again thank you very much for championing the Julius story, I am so lucky to have been introduced to this by the late Allan Bromley and to be linked to yourself in perpetuating Julius's remarkable work.
To record and preserve ATL history as you have, is a great credit to yourself, Max and I are privileged to have your thoughts regarding the Discovery Shed aired on your web site.
Congratulations on your well deserved award, recently received at the ATL reunion, this bears testimony to your great efforts.
On 26/12/2015 Mick Gulovsen, an ex-ATL tote engineer in Victoria sent an email, an extract follows: Congrats on the slide rule, I think you thoroughly deserve it, I am a wee bit envious as when I went to tech school in the early 70's I was the only person in class who used a slide rule for school. This is of course before calculators were around, it was slide rule or logarithms in those days. I did get a commodore brand calculator in 1974 or 75 and was one of the first to get this basic calculator that cost my working class parents $90 at the time, well beyond what they could really afford at the time..

Also on 26/12/2015 Don McKenzie, another ex-ATL tote engineer in Victoria also sent an email. An extract, relating to Mick's extract above, follows: I have to endorse what Mick said about the slide rule presentation Brian. Thoroughly deserved, and so glad to hear this news. The amount of effort you have put into the history of the man George Julius, and his ATL tote company on your web site, far eclipses anything else that others (including me) have attempted on this subject. The years of dedication has returned a small delightful gift for you. A gift I know you are very proud to own, and never expected.

Narelle wrote to a friend of ours in London regarding this presentation, she replied How wonderful for Brian to get the great man's slide rule! She also wrote that she had told a mutual friend of ours and added as you can imagine he was incredibly impressed.

On 3/1/2016 Chris Robertson, the most knowledgeable high value punter regarding the racing industry that I know, wrote the following about this presentation:

Reading about the recognition you have achieved for your herculean efforts in rescuing the history of the automatic totalisator makes me feel fortunate to have been a very small part of this history - even if it was only as a customer of ATL. For just a few moments I regretted that I didn't live in Brisbane, but then I would have missed growing up with Melbourne's rich racing and wagering history, so on balance I'm happy to be a Victorian. I also got to know Don McKenzie, just about the most likeable person anyone could ever want to meet on a racecourse.

As for the accolades you have received for your tireless work, I can only say they are thoroughly deserved. From a personal viewpoint I am mightily glad that your website exists. In what must be one of horse racing's great shames: the failure to appreciate just what they had in the electro-mechanical totalisator, you have almost single handedly rescued this aspect of the sport's history. The pages of racing's history are littered with stories of colourful bookmaking characters, but nothing of the people who provided the means for racing surviving and flourishing, i.e. those who built and ran the totalisator. The totalisator flourished against opposition from the friends of bookmakers who were so prominent for so long on Australia's racing club committees. So while you have been thanked for your role in preserving an important piece of Australia's engineering past, I would like to thank you for being an important racing historian, even if that is only incidental to your main aims. I am also glad that there were enough farsighted racing men to stare down the totalisator's opponents.

On 5/1/2016 Max Burnet wrote again: I asked the leading collector of slide rules in Sydney about the Anderson and here is his response. He confirms my hunch that it is very rare. It seems a fitting item for Sir George Julius to have owned!

On 7/1/2016, Chris Roberstson wrote again. Following is an extract: I feel privileged to be getting the thoughts of an ATL insider first hand; it's like another chapter has been added to my racing experiences. The accolades you have received are, as well as being richly deserved, also a vindication of the efforts of so many tote people through the decades.

On 10th January 2016 Edward Fenn George Julius' cousin once removed wrote:

How entirely appropriate you should be given his rule, as a mark of appreciation of your magnum opus documenting George and all his works.
It is a fiercesome instrument to one devoid of any mathematical capability, and of importance to George as an Engineer somewhere on the same level as a wife I would make a guess?
It also gives me great pleasure you have been so well recognised for a project that is now, due to you, part of the continuing history of Australian endeavour.
Furthermore as a bonus you are obviously having a lot of fun and meeting many interesting people.
Keep up the research I am sure there is still more to record.

On 12/1/2016, Bernadette McLoughlin, Tabcorp General Manager Phone and On Course, wrote regarding this presentation. Following is an extract: Wow what a moment for you and Narelle. Congratulations on a well deserved recognition and I know the sliderule will be treasured.

On 27/1/2016 Tack Tanaka, who was a computer engineer with Fujitsu in the Totalisator Division, wrote an email about this event. Having mentioned Fujitsu, on the subject of Japan, it is interesting to note that in the encyclopaedic French book PARI MUTUEL - L'AVENTURE D'UNE GRANDE INVENTION FRANCAISE, there is a centrepiece map of the world. It is titled "Chiffre d'affaires du PARI MUTUEL" which translates to Pari Mutuel Sales and categorises the tote turnover of the major countries in the totalisator business. These turnovers are represented by different sized cubes. Japan stands alone, with the biggest cube of all, categorised as greater than 20,000 million d'euros. Following are some extracts from Tack's email:

Thank you for letting know the great news, and many congratulations on your award!
Brian, I wish I could see the photo taken when you were given the sliderule, or when you delivered your speech.
The only thing I can feel the sentiment that all of the people got together in this event shared is the greatness of Website you created. This is simply unbelievable.
Really, really, congratulations!
I try to communicate your message to Yoshida-san, and if possible, to some of my Tote people in Fujitsu. But this would involve a lot of translation!
By the way, have Narelle and you drunk the valuable Champaign?

On 28/1/2016 Tack wrote again to indicate he has passed the information about the Institution of Engineers Australia Heritage Marker described at the top of this page, on to Yoshida san, who I met when Tack and Yoshida san visited Australia investigating totalisator history.

Now I understand how valuable the sliderule you received is. It’s your “family treasure” to be kept generation to generation.
Yesterday, I wrote an Email to Yoshida-san about the International Engineering Heritage news. He was amazed. And he asked me to send his congratulation message to you. Yoshida-san was happy to know that there was another man (Paul) in Southern hemisphere who, like Yoshida-san, started the action to commemorate the great work of Gorge Julius.
Thank you for uploading my Email to your website. I am honored.

On 27/1/2016 Ian Johnston, who was a Totalisator Engineer at Turffontein Racecourse in South Africa working on Automatic Totalisators Limited systems in the early 1970s. Following is an extract relating to this event. I’m really glad that the ATL reunion dinner went off so well. Also great that you got presented with such a valuable gift as the Julius slide rule. I watched the U-Tube clip. There is a link to the video clip of this presentation that Ian mentions, at the end of this section before the next main heading New Zealand holiday 2007.

Long time friends of mine Sue and Vasco Barros, wrote on 30 January 2016 about the 2016 ATL reunion dinner in Sydney: What a fabulous trip you had, and the recognition received by your peers is so special! I watched the u tube and read some of the website material, it is so extraordinary and wonderful that you are instrumental in keeping this history alive.

On 4/2/2016 Bruce Rutter, ex Automatic Totalisators Limited CEO wrote the following: Thank you for your very informative email and hearty congratulations on the well earned acknowledgement of your efforts which have not only enhanced the association of Sir George Julius with AutomaticTotalisators but has provided a great history of the Company and its people.
The presentation of Sir Georges Slide Rule was wonderful and well deserved.

An Amazing Two Weeks

As many people have been introduced above, I thought I would write a little more about the events of the two weeks Narelle and I spent in Sydney whilst down for the 2015 reunion dinner. It was crammed full of nostalgic activities reuniting with very good old friends some of whom we had not seen for some time. I will limit this to people and events related to totalisator history.

Bob Moran mentioned above has created what he calls The Discovery Shed to inspire young people into thinking about science, technology, engineering, mathematics, logic and history. Don't get the idea this is something for youth only, I am 65 and find it absolutely enthralling and the shed is really the premises of his working era engineering company Precision Dynamics. It has a strong focus on the Julius Tote and after two visits, with a duration of about half a day each, I have concluded that I have not yet scratched the surface and need to allocate a whole day to it next time. I was fascinated by the F28 Fokker Fellowship centre console which I spent time examining in detail. It was interesting to see that the reverse thrust in flight lockout was still working, locking the reverse thrust levers until the thrust control levers are pulled past flight idle into the reverse thrust gate. I am used to the Beta range reverse thrust on a turbo prop, as I have flown this type of aircraft, but have never had my hands on the reverse thrust control in a turbo fan before, although I had seen them used.
There is more information about the Discovery Shed under the heading Bob Moran's Interactive Julius Tote Displays below. Additionally, there is a link to Discovery Shed information in the 3 more ATL systems in Asia/Links to other pages chapter of this website.

Having mentioned the Discovery Shed, Max Burnet mentioned above is Bob Moran's partner in this venture. Max provided the Digital Equipment Corporation historic computer displays and associated computer era information. These are from an era of really serious computer hardware which were a sight to behold, not the boring micro machines of today. I am fascinated by the massive amount of synchronicity Narelle and I experience. Max Burnet has a fascinating synchronicity with Charles Babbage which is particularly pertinent as Bob Moran's Babbage Difference Engine No.1 construction is on display in the Discovery Shed. Max's Birthday is 150 years to the day after Charles Babbage's!

Narelle and I had a great time catching up with Merv and Delma Cathcart mentioned above. We all attended one of Max Burnet's ex DEC employee morning tea functions which we thoroughly enjoyed. Merv and I have something in common with the ex DEC employees in that the company we worked for, ATL, was a major OEM (Other Equipment Manufacturer) of their company and one which multiple DEC employees regarded as being significant in getting DEC Australia started. Warwick Halcrow, also mentioned above attended this event as he worked for DEC prior to working for ATL. It was after this event that Merv Delma Narelle and I visited the Discovery Shed mentioned above.

Having just mentioned Warwick Halcrow, who read the speech at my presentation, he invited Narelle and I to attend a get together of his friends at a coffee shop in Lane Cove. We met Warwick's delightful friends and engaged in many interesting conversations. We immediately felt like we had known them for a long time. We met with this group three times before returning to Queensland. At the first meeting, I was talking to Warwick, with Jim and Margaret listening in, relating the fact that I had visited the North Shore Rowing Club's boat shed whilst in Sydney and asking if he would like to join Narelle and I in a visit there at 0630 when it would be open. I was getting to the punchline about Spencer Grace, an Olympic rower and benefactor to the North Shore Rowing Club, having also been a GM and MD of ATL, when Jim blurted out "Spencer Grace" before I mentioned it. I could not beleive it! More Synchronicity! Not only did he know of the connection between the North Shore Rowing Club, Spencer Grace and ATL but he actually knew Spencer Grace!

Narelle and I spent two delightful days as guests of Bertha Schoder who worked for ATL in the wiring department for many years. Wiring electronics backplanes was both demanding and exacting work requiring long periods of intense concentration and attention to detail. A single wiring job could take days to weeks. Bertha made life a lot easier for many in engineering and research, as any wiring she produced, which in those days was prolific and consequently complicated, was guaranteed to work according to the wiring diagrams. Mistakes in wiring can introduce significant delays identifying the mistake or much worse, mistakes. Bertha attends the ATL reunion dinner and was present at the presentation documented above. Our time with Bertha was non stop entertainment characterised by what I term utmost hospitality. She even provided a movie on each night, which were both very much in line with Narelle and my interests, which we all thoroughly enjoyed and discussed.
There is an example of a backplane wiring accessible via the Photo Gallery + Synchronicity chapter of this website by selecting the image thumbnail with the text starting A Raceday Control Console. Look under the heading Information and Images from Max Burnet ... at the image titled The PDP8 Backplane.

Neville and Nancy Mitchell and Narelle and I met with David and Erella Hamilton at the Coffee Shop at Lake Parramatta. David was the NSW Operations Manager for Automatic Totalisators Limited. I opened the carefully packed box containing Sir George Julius' sliderule and presentation case, which I had received, as David and Erella were not at the reunion and had not seen it. Usually when David and I meet we have a lot to talk about, but this time I managed to ask him about the experience of flying the Seafire, the naval version of the Spitfire which he did at the age of 21 when he was in the Royal Navy. It was delightful listening to his description. He said it was a good aircraft to fly and that he only flew the Seafires with the Griffon engines with horsepower of 2000 upwards. As a consequence of this power, you had to be careful of torque effect. Danger was present when approaching to land whether on an airfield or a carrier where you are at a low speed and for some reason you slam the throttle open. This produces a large amount of thrust from the propeller, combined with poor effectiveness of control surfaces due to the low airspeed, this can cause the fuselage to start rolling around the propellor, resulting in a torque stall which was always fatal. On the upside the power provided for very impressive rate of climb. David said that he later flew Seafires with contrarotating propellors which solved the torque effect problem. These propellors had two sets of blades one set rotating one way and the other rotating in the opposite direction resulting in the torque effect of one cancelling the torque effect of the other. He also mentioned that the cockpit was comfortable for himself but was cramped for very large pilots. He knew a Seafire pilot who was big and flew in combat without a parachute, as he could not fit in the cockpit wearing it. David did not mention it, however for those interested in such details, the Griffon engine has a capacity of 36.7 Litres!
David's tote memoires appear on this website in the Memoires of an Ops Manager and Harold Park chapter.

Neville and Nancy Mitchell and Narelle and I met with Rod and Elizabeth Richards for the first time. We had a wonderful time together in a coffee shop in Parramatta, reminiscing about Automatic Totalisators Limited. Rod performed the Ipswich Julius Tote installation in 1950 and I worked on the development and later operation and maintenance of the PDP11 systems that replaced Rod's totalisator at Ipswich. Rod brought along photographs of installations he worked on. Neville who started at Automatic Totalisators long before I did, knew a lot more of the people that Rod remembered. Whilst determining what mutual people we knew, Rod mentioned a name that had Neville and I prick up our ears as we both knew him well, Rex Turner. Ironically, Rod had not met Rex whilst working for Automatic Totalisator Limited, as Rex worked there in a later era, they met each other at a Bowls Club. They now play Bowls together at the club once a week. They ascertained that they both had worked for the same company, Automatic Totalisators Limited. They had not realised however that they had a connection through the Ipswich Amateur Turf Club and the racetrack at Bundamba. Rex was the installation engineer for the PDP11 based totalisators that in 1979 replaced the Julius tote at Ipswich which Rod had installed in 1950. Rod sent me an email on 18/12/2015, an extract follows: I caught up with Rex Turner and he was surprised when I told him that we had lunch together and wanted to know how I knew you. I gave him both you and Neville’s cards and told him about your web site with his photo standing by the Aztec. He mentioned his work experience to Bagdad and his escape—that would make a good read in Tote History!
Rod has provided information about the Ipswich Julius Tote installation as well as other totes he worked on in Tasmania, on this website. Rod's memories of the Ipswich Julius tote installation are in The shaft adder in the image chapter under the heading Rod Richards' Revelations and his recollections of the White City Tote in Tasmania are accessible through the Photo Gallery continued chapter by selecting the image thumbnail with the associated text starting The adding equipment part of the central processing system at White City Stadium London.

As Russell Graham started all this off, it seems appropriate to end on a couple of perceptive comments from Russell:
I guess Narelle had an interesting drive back to Toowoomba with you in the car after the dinner!
I hope the champers made up for it!

Here is a video of this presentation provided by Nick D'Angelo who filmed it The 2015 ATL Reunion Dinner Presentation

New Zealand Holiday 2007

Whilst on holiday in New Zealand in September 2007 I visited Christchurch Cathedral. I spoke to one of the guides indicating that I was interested in Archbishop Churchill Julius, George's father. I was surprised to find that he knew about George and that George was regarded as somewhat of a curiosity considering his business association with gambling. George's mother was Alice Frances Rowlandson.

Churchill Julius was appointed Archdeacon Ballarat in 1884, nominated to the Diocese of Christchurch in 1889, consecrated Bishop of Christchurch in 1890, Anglican Primate and Archbishop of New Zealand commencing 1922. He was on the Board of Governors of Canterbury College (University). He was known for his liberal views. The year of my visit was the 90th anniversary of Bishop Julius Hall. Bishop Julius gave his home Bishopscourt Park Terrace to be a dwelling for women students in Christchurch. Churchill's father was Dr. Frederic Gilder Julius a surgeon who was married to Ellen Hannah Smith.

There is a list of Deans inside the Cathedral, John Awdry Julius, George's brother is amongst them. George had 2 brothers and 5 sisters.

I noticed that there was a "Julius Place" whilst visiting Akaroa on the Banks Peninsula. Checking to see if this had anything to do with the Julius family, I learnt that Alfred Henry Julius first cousin to Churchill Julius was Vicar for the Akaroa Diocese.

Canterbury College Image of Old Canterbury College buildings now the Arts Centre

Whilst in Christchurch I visited "Rutherford's Den". It is a tourist attraction at The Arts Centre, shown in the above image, which is now located in the buildings that used to be Canterbury College, later known as Canterbury University. Rutherford's Den consists of the cloakroom where Rutherford used to conduct his experiments and the surrounding rooms and lecture theatre. Ernest Rutherford was a world famous scientist who discovered the nuclear structure of the atom and was the first person to knowingly split it. It has been suggested that this claim should be to split the nucleus of an atom! He is pictured on the New Zealand $100 bill. Both Ernest Rutherford and George Julius obtained degrees at these premises and they both started in 1890.
post-script: July 2011, I have just discovered an article in Nature, International weekly Journal of Science, reference Nature 158,124 (27 July 1946) which states that George attended classes with his contemporary and friend Ernest Rutherford.
post-script2: May 2016, I have just finished incorporating a 1932 article from the Trove newspaper archive titled HOW THE AUTOMATIC TOTALISATOR WAS INVENTED in the Mechanical Aids to Calculation chapter of this website. In this article Sir George Julius states: After matriculating here at the University I entered the New Zealand University--where one of my fellow students was the now eminent physicist, Lord Rutherford--and was its first graduate of engineering.
The Trove details of this article are: 1932 'HOW THE AUTOMATIC TOTALISATOR WAS INVENTED', Gippsland Times (Vic. : 1861 - 1954), 7 January, p. 3. , viewed 20 May 2016,

Before leaving the image above, showing the old Canterbury College clock tower, Dermot Elworthy, George Julius' great nephew, who was at school just around the corner at the time, remembers a "Chummy" Austin 7 of mid-twenties vintage hauled up the outside of the clock tower as a 1954 rag week stunt. The poor car was suspended from the roof for several days whilst the authorities pondered how to return it to the ground. He sometimes has wondered what his Great Uncle George would have made of this nonsense 60 years after he had been a student in that very place.

I also visited Riccarton Racetrack. I had no prior knowledge of it and had a look purely as a result of having seen a signpost to Riccarton Racetrack. I was surprised to find a barometer indicator on an old tote building reminiscent of the ones which were part of the Julius Totes. The tote house was occupied by a Veterinary company and an employee there knew that the building used to be the main tote house, that it had historical significance and that the old electro-mechanical Julius tote was still upstairs but not easily accessible. On further investigation I found that Julius tote installations were performed here in 1921 and 1935.

Riccarton Park old main tote house. Canterbury Jockey Club Riccarton

I informed Prof. Bob Doran of this system. He subsequently visited this site and documented his findings regarding the Julius tote machinery which was still present. Amongst his findings was a drawing which he photographed and is shown below.

Julius Poole and Gibson blueprint Bluprint of wiring to Grand Total Units

I find this drawing of particular interest for two reasons. Firstly the fact that it is a blueprint. I recall there being a proliferation of blueprints in the AWA print room at North Ryde in Sydney in the early 1970s. This was a once common means of reproducing engineering drawings. Despite Blueprints becoming so common that the word became part of the English language, they now seem to have disappeared into antiquity as I have not seen any blueprints in decades. Secondly, the drawing was produced by Awdry Julius, George's son, for Julius Poole and Gibson.

Having mentioned the print room at AWA, I recall my first visit to this room to collect a drawing. You waited outside the room at a long counter with a large opening above it through which you could see the inside of the print room. Staff on the other side of the counter would attend to your requests for documents or accept documents to be stored. This opening had a shutter which I first thought was purely for securing this room. This I found a little odd as it secured the print room from the rest of the factory and other staff on the outside. It was a bit like a small shop front or canteen servery. As I waited to be served, my attention was drawn to a sign on the wall inside the print room. It was a set of instructions regarding the possibility of a fire. Evidently in the event of the fire alarm being triggered, the personnel in the print room only had seconds to exit the room before the fire system automatically closed doors and shutters and flooded the room with fire extinguishing gas! I wonder what occupational health and safety issues there would be with that nowadays. I suppose in those days these rooms contained the Knowledge Base for the organisation and this made it extremely important to preserve the contents. In addition this predated the widespread use of computer based drawing and document creation and storage and database systems with off site storage for backup.

An email from Bill Chalmers

In March 2007 I received an email from John Shoebridge enquiring about a Model City that George Julius owned. John had been communicating with Bill Chalmers who wrote about it. Following is an extract from his email.

I don't know anything about the abilities of Sir George Julius in model-making, but can certainly add something about the "Model City". It was built over a period, probably about 1937-39, at the opulent Rushcutters Bay home of the Julius family right on the waterfront. I think his chauffeur had a lot do with the construction. It was offered by Sir George as a Red Cross fund-raising display in 1940 and went on display at, I think, Grace Brothers in Sydney. It was later moved to the then Myer Emporium in Melbourne, being set up in the basement during 1941 It consisted of a plaster-of paris mountain-side built on transportable wood frame sections and was about 13 metres long, 3 or 3.5 deep and about 3 high. It had an extensive Lionel "0" gauge layout with fiddle yards behind the scenes. Trains operated on a programmed sequence, as did various cranes, conveyors, barges, coalmines, etc, with a commentator describing the action. My father, the late A.M. Chalmers, was employed by Sir George ( but maybe the Red Cross - not sure) to manage, set up and operate the display with a small staff. I remember the maintenance technician was Ted Beckett and there were girl operators and a professional commentator - the programme ran for about 40 minutes. I still have my father's draft set-up and operating notes, also some large photos of parts of the layout.

I emailed with Bill in August 2008 and following is an extract from his reply providing additional information.

To add a little to my reply to John Shoebridge; I remember accompanying my father to Sir George's home right on the shore of Rushcutters Bay, probably in 1940. The home was quite large, of three levels, I think. The Model City was housed in a large room in a lower level - the memory is really vague on that, but I clearly remember being introduced to Sir George and a member of his staff, who was probably his driver/mechanic or whatever, and the impression on a nine-year old of the huge model. In fact, the plaster-of-paris mountain construction was painted in rather garish colours, as I remember.

The Powerhouse Museum in Sydney have the remnants of this model city.

The following is an extract from the book Julius Poole and Gibson The First Eighty Years:

In the early years of the practice George Julius, with the help of his sons, made great progress in constructing the model railway set which gradually grew to be a model city measuring 13 metres by 4 metres, and up to 3 metres high.

Many years later on the occasion of its exhibition in Melbourne, "The Argus" gave the following description (26 June, 1941):
"The model city is a perfect miniature township, with railways, lakes, a park, windmill and street lighting.
Behind the town is a mountain made of seven tons of plaster. The mountain is criss-crossed by railway lines and is full of tunnels. It has several deep gorges crossed by suspension bridges and is dotted with miniature engineering devices. There is an excavator digging soil from the hillside and depositing it in waiting trucks, a dredge scooping gravel up from the dock, a coal mine, complete with its own railway services and loading cranes, post cranes for loading timber and a mine from which iron ore is carried in buckets on a belt conveyor to an electric grab which deposits it in barges. There is also an iron foundry and a farmyard all to scale."

Lent to the Red Cross in 1941 to raise funds, the model city was exhibited in an annex to the toy department at Myer Emporium in Melbourne. The model city was insured for 10,000 pounds and received nationwide newspaper coverage. It was eventually presented to the Sydney Technical Museum.

An email from Tony Shellshear

In March 2009, I received the following email from Tony Shellshear, George's great grandson.

Not sure if it is of interest, but I am Sir George Julius’s great grandson.
I have just taken delivery of the original lathe on which Sir George created the first totalisator prototypes, along with many cogs and wheels, which are presumably ‘left over bits’ or spare parts.
I have only just started doing an initial assembly of the lathe, as I received it in parts, with no drawings or notes. So far so good.
Once I have it figured out, or at least as far as I can, I will send some photos.
Have not yet managed to determine the make of the lathe, however some of the gear and thread cutting accessories carry the name ‘Evans and Sons, London’.
My intention is restore it ‘gently’, so as not to lose the sense of age of the machine, but to hopefully get it working for display purposes.
It was originally a pedal powered machine, but has had an electric motor conversion at some stage. Sadly, the original pedals and flywheel are no longer with the machine, but I am going to do some net hunting to see if I can firstly determine what they would have looked like, and start the hunt for replacement parts.   

Will keep you posted as the mysteries unfold.


Image of the ATL reunion dinner held in December 2008
Tony Shellshear visiting the Julius tote at the Eagle Farm Racing Museum April 2009, which was manufactured by his great grandfather's company Automatic Totalisators.

It is now March 2014 and Narelle and I have had a wonderful lunch at Tony and Cathy Shellshear's place. Tony is engaged in a rigorous project to return George Julius' lathe he mentions in the above email to its original condition. It has already undergone a major transformation to be in the condition shown in the following photograph. The lathe was manufactured by Evans and Sons of London in 1830.

George Julius' Evans and Sons Lathe George Julius' original lathe

Tony also gave us a look over his extensive collection of George Julius memorabilia including his degrees, knighthood certificate and medal, slide rules, tools, documents, other awards and achievements, his induction document to the Racing Hall of Fame, membership and family documents and George’s lathe, as well as many photos. It is an astounding collection. I have presented images of medallions from Tony's collection in the Sir George Julius chapter of this website. Whilst on the subject of Tony Shellshear, I will mention that Awdry Julius who created the Julius Poole and Gibson blueprint drawing shown above is Tony's Grandfather.

The ATL reunion dinners

Nick D'Angelo, a long serving ATL manager has created an ATL tradition. Every year in December he organises an ATL reunion dinner in Sydney which is usually very popular. I have included a photograph of the 2008 reunion mainly because it is the smallest of these gatherings I have been to and everyone attending fits onto the one photograph. Usually these reunions are at least twice this size with a lot of dropouts this year due to business meetings that could not be broken and people being overseas. My apologies to the people down the far end of the table and if anyone has a better photo I am happy to replace this one particularly since Narelle would have preferred to be down the other end.

These reunions are something that many outsiders do not comprehend. They wonder why it is that a group of people saw something so special about the company they worked for, the relationships they made whilst employed by that company and the work they performed there, that they make the effort to come to a reunion often travelling long distances or international to celebrate a company deceased for decades.

The 2008 ATL reunion Dinner Image of the ATL reunion dinner held in December 2008

An email from Mike Bell, a long serving ATL projects manager captures the sentiment of these occasions.

I just wanted to say “thanks” on behalf of all the guys and girls (whether or not they could make it) for arranging the dinner last night – good food, good wine / beer and good company (well, mostly – right Ziz? :-) ). It’s a great tradition that you’ve established (and maintain) and long may it continue.
Best Wishes for a Merry Christmas and a great 2009 to you and the rest of the gang.

And the reply

Hi Mike,
Thanks, it's always good to catch up with everyone and share some merriment around this time of year.
A special thanks to those people that travel the long distances to attend, and I hope to see as many as possible of the gang again next year.
Till then, stay safe and well, have a Merry Christmas and all the best for the New Year.

Britain Holiday 2009

The Church of St Peter Mancroft Norwich Image of the Market Church and Norwich Castle
In September of 2009 I visited Britain again. I did some flying in a Cirrus SR22 from Humberside airport near Hull to Manston in Kent pursuing another historical interest the Battle of Britain. I noticed that George Julius' home town Norwich was in the vicinity so I went to have a look at it. The photo is of The Church of St Peter Mancroft in the foreground and Norwich Castle in the background on the right hand side of the Church. I am presently reading A History of Norwich by Frank Meeres. It is said that Norwich has a pub for every day of the year and a church for every Sunday of the year. It is ironic that George invented the first automatic totalisator and came from Norwich known as a city of firsts.

Dermot Elworthy informed me that Archbishop Julius, George's father, started his career at St Giles in Norwich.

Britain Holiday 2010

I visited the UK in 2010 again. I always used to think that the concept of Best Friend was a childhood concept. I am starting to think that it permeates throughout life. Whilst in London I spent several occasions with Charles Norrie, the northern hemisphere expert on George Julius and his totes. Charles has definitely become what I would call one of this 60 year old’s version of a best friend. Maybe the correct term is Soul Mates! We have been Internet acquaintances for many years and I have spent time with him during my antipodean visits to the UK for the last 3 years.

I had planned to do some flying in an SR22 again this year in the UK. I planned to fly from Humberside to Exeter to meet Dermot Elworthy who is George Julius’ grand nephew. Dermot and I have been Internet friends for a long time and share many passions such as aviation, motorcycles and steam engines and of course Julius family and totalisator history. Dermot’s career was in mechanical design and development engineering with a change to corporate aviation when the company he worked for purchased its own aircraft. The aircraft I was hoping to fly had a faulty transponder, eliminating the possibility of flying under instrument flight rules and in controlled airspace. This left the possibility of doing any aviation in the aircraft dependent on visual flight conditions which did not exist during the period of time I had allotted to aviating. This resulted in two aborted attempts to fly to Gloucester to have the transponder repaired and to Exeter to meet Dermot.

Whilst spending time in Doncaster, waiting for suitable weather to fly out of Humberside, I visited Doncaster Racecourse. This Racecourse is where The Doncaster Cup is run and this is the oldest continuing regulated horse race in the world. I was there shortly after the St Leger Stakes had been run and witnessed a massive two story marquee being dismantled. We have set up tote facilities at Eagle Farm Racecourse in two story marquees during carnival events before however the sight of this behemoth made me pleased that we have not had to do something on such a huge scale.

After Doncaster we travelled to Edinburgh which I found an extremely impressive and historical city. I am not going to diverge into a travelogue of Edinburgh but try and keep some reference to the topic of this website. Whilst in Edinburgh I took photos related to two people who had a big impact on electronics engineering. John Napier the inventor of Logarithms who is interred in the graveyard of the Church of St Cuthbert, and the birthplace of Alexander Graham Bell, the man who invented the telephone. These two men are linked as the unit of measurement of gain or attenuation, the Decibel, named after Bell, incorporates logarithms in its calculation. This preservation of technology and engineering history is something not strongly practised in Australia.

Narelle, Brian, Dermot, Charles and Danny at the meeting at the Bridge House Image of meeting to determine if GAJ society should be formed October 2010

Whilst in London I attended a meeting to determine if a Julius Society should be formed. It was held at The Bridge House at Little Venice. I eventually met Dermot here at last! I attempted to convey the message to the other attendees at the meeting who thought George Julius should have been recognised in Australia as an Australian Engineering hero and found it anomalous that we do not value these people. Professor Trevor Cole recognised this anomaly when he wrote of Julius We need to be aware of our engineering heroes. Similarly Prof. Martyn Webb wrote of Julius One can hardly believe that such a man could go almost unnoticed and unrecognised. Danny Hayton made a statement at the meeting that I found particularly poignant. The concept of what he said is that it is ironic, considering the amount of energy that goes into the history of the arts, and how comparatively little goes into engineering and technology history as it is the latter achievements that emancipated the human race sufficiently from the basic requirements of life to be able to engage in the former.

Whilst in the UK, I received an email from Prof. Bob Doran to inform me that he had found a website Exploring 20th Century London that indicated the Museum of London had an exhibit containing a part of the Harringay Julius tote that operated at the Harringay Greyhound Racing Track. I spent an afternoon in the London Museum with Charles Norrie and could not find any evidence of this exhibit. I eventually found a curator who knew of it, Jim Gledhill at The Department of History Collections Museum of London, who was very helpful and keen to show it to me. Unfortunately he was not available till after my departure home. I have included a link to this website in the link page of this website.

Whilst in Edingburgh I went looking for Powderhall Stadium where a Julius tote was installed in 1936. Another Julius tote was installed in Edinburgh in 1930 for the Greyhound Racing Association however I do not know where that one was installed. I discovered that the Stadium no longer exists. Bob Wilson from Leeds wrote in his contribution to the Growing Up in Broughton website:


Powderhall Stadium, was originally built in 1870 for cycling and athletics. It fell into decline and was converted to a greyhound racing stadium. Over 10,000 people attended the first meeting held 3rd August 1927. The long, grass straights from the dog release traps meant safe running conditions and fast times.

1930s to 1960s

In its early days as a greyhound stadium, the main racing event was the Edinburgh Cup, first run in 1933. Greyhounds trained in London won the Scottish Greyhound Derby ten times before 1960, including wins for one of the greatest greyhounds ever to race at Powderhall stadium, Pigalle Wonder.

In the 1940s, the stadium was the pride of Scottish greyhound racing. My gran lived within walking distance of this track, and I spent many a pleasant summer evening there on my annual visits.

The sport of greyhound racing thrived throughout Britain, in the 1940s, but in 1960 it was killed off by the arrival of the national TV service. No one wanted to go to a often cold, blustery dog track when they could sit at home and watch free TV, especially Coronation Street.

1980s and 1990s

In 1988 the Greyhound Racing Association, the GRA, sold the track to local businessman Norrie Rowan, who sold it on to Coral the Bookmakers for an instant profit.

In 1992, the stadium was taken over by Eddie Ramsay, a nightclub owner, but in 1995 it went bankrupt. Its terraces were bulldozed for housing development.

In transit between London and Edinburgh, on the way up and back, I drove through Newcastle-Upon-Tyne. I contacted Brough Park Newcastle Greyhound Stadium where another Julius tote was installed in 1936. There was another Julius tote installation for the Greyhound Racing Association in Newcastle in 1931. I received a reply from Marjorie Jackson indicating that the system was no longer at the track and that it had probably been moved to another track in the 1960s, however no one at Brough Park knew where.

Bob Moran's Interactive Julius Tote Displays

Bob Moran, a Sydney based engineer with an interest in totalisator history has built a Julius totalisator single adder interactive display module which provides a safe hands on experience to understand the workings of the shaft adder, odds calculator, odds relay, scanner and ticket issuing machine parts of the Julius tote. The unit is work in progress and will be fully enclosed when complete. He is also working on a 4 shaft adder Julius tote demonstration unit. I visited Bob in December 2010 at the premises of his company Precision Dynamics. He showed me his Julius Tote demonstration units. I find this inspirational work and it amazes me how devotees such as Bob invest so much in time and materials, in the interests of preserving history, with little probability of any return. Bob also showed me his Babbage Difference Engine 1 project which is taking shape. It is a sight to behold!

Bob Moran's Interactive Julius Tote Display Image of Bob Moran's Julius tote demonstration system

Bob sent me the following email on 30 August 2010.

Hello Brian,

Quite a few years have past since we last communicated, this is when I put together some of the Broadmeadow tote for the PHM, you kindly put me in contact with Neville Mitchell. Well things have gone the full circle again!! I am trying to retire from the business which I sold off a couple of months ago to someone with their own workshop etc and am now cleaning things up which has turned out to be quite an job. I still have the factory and machines which I need to finish the Babbage DE1 project. From the tote wreckage left over, I have worked out I have most pieces to build two four adder displays (ie 2 win and 2 place) and two single adder displays. The design drawings are finished and I have commenced making the framework which will use up material around the place. A lot of the framework and bits were lost when Allan transported it to his house plus the Newcastle Museum grabbed a lot of it. Hopefully these units will be small hands on interactive displays which will properly demonstrate the workings. The PHM machine was too big and posed safety and reliability issues, which should be easier to overcome with these units. The other day I contacted Neville Mitchell and Bob Doran to touch base and keep them informed. I feel you too would be interested in what I am up to.

Absolutely love your web site. For years I have been meaning to come up and look at the E/F Museum

Best Regards
Bob Moran

And an extract from another email on 31 August 2010.

It is not great news yet, but I am trying, will keep you informed. The tote was in my mind a very important milestone in data processing and proves somewhat that innovation is demand driven. The bits I have are too important and just can't be junked. ...

Yes I would like a copy of "Totalisator History in the Eagle Farm Racing Museum" whenever you get around to it, might help me get my head around some of the issues.

Thank you Brian you are a font of information, have a nice holiday and I will have to make it to Brisbane soon.

And an extract from another email on 15 October 2010.

Welcome back trust you had a great trip. Thank you for the photos very interesting and timely as I am trying to put together a modest display on computing before computers leading up to Babbage's printing of tables etc with DE1 and what calculating devices were available in the early 19th century. Napier and his logs figure greatly with this, nice to have some background information on the man, wish I had a set of "Napier's Bones" anyway I have a 2' Gunter's scale and a Sector, then slide rules then some old mechanical calculators etc. (please not I am a mech engineer and not too good with the electronics your DVD was great and opened my eyes to a lot of computing issues)

Please see attached file of where I am at with the single adder interactive still WIP but very close now. The four module unit is on hold till I sort the single on out, ideas change all the time and I am finding the more manual I can make it the easier it is to understand.

Thanks again for your input.

And finally another email on 18 October 2010.

Dear Brian,

Thanks for the Tote encouragement and the great picture of Faraday, he is also on my hero list, it is amazing how many brilliant minds have enabled us to be where we are! Regarding what is happening here, with the interactive display, Bob Doran knows what I am up to in some detail as they are scrapping a tote in Palmerston North which I would love to get some parts from. As for other people, not many others know as I am still finishing a few things on the Tote and want to make sure I am happy with its performance before I say too much. Matthew was to visit last month but he is very busy. I am just forging on to set up a 'Discovery Shed' here at Precision Dynamics in Mona Vale, the tote is just one of the things I have that hopefully will make it an interesting place to visit. I have a window of opportunity here at the moment with an empty factory and plenty of junk to maybe do something for the community, I need to cover overheads but everything else will be voluntary. I welcome your interest in what I am doing and if you wish pass on information that is fine, just be aware the interactive is not finalised yet there may be changes and when it is I need to finish the four adder unit which needs to incorporate a grand total unit (some of the parts I need). Feedback and suggestions would be most welcome. If you are in Mona Vale in December that would be great timing to come and have a first hand look ! Tea and coffee are on all the time here. Hoping to see you in Dec.

Regards Bob

Jumping to 2nd November 2015, I received an email from Bob as a result of my email requesting permission to present one of Bob's magnificent engineering drawings of Julius Tote shaft adders on this website.

Bob Moran's 1926 Tote adder 10 register schematic Image of Bob Moran's shaft adder diagram

When I harbour thoughts contemplating that I have a ridiculously obsessional interest in this subject, I look at work like the drawing and interactive displays above produced by Bob, and I realise I am just a beginner. This and other drawings Bob has produced are of Julius Tote machinery that has not been used for 33 years and will never be used again. He has produced drawings that are probably equal if not superior to the drawings Automatic Totalisators Limited had when these devices were being manufactured. In other words, these professional quality drawings were produced without any possibility of having commercial value. I have long thought that engineering drawing and art are linked. I think Bob's drawings are definitely pieces of artwork. Following is an extract from Bob's reply. I would be delighted and honoured to have my drawing on your site, maybe this might precipitate a challenge as to its correctness or otherwise.

A trip to Perth March 2011

In March 2011 Narelle and I visited our elder son Paul in Perth. I took the opportunity to chase some totalisator history in the West.

Gloucester Park Perth Gloucester Park Trotting Track Tote building

The first automatic totalisator in Australia was installed here at the Western Australian Trotting Association Gloucester Park in 1916. Another Julius Tote was installed for the WATA in 1929. The first floor level of this building was the Julius tote machine room. The slots below the runner numbers on the first floor provided a public view of the runner total counters installed in the machine room. The part of this building on the nearest side of the central tower displays runners 1 through 9 and the far side of the tower displays runners 10 through 18. The top row relates to the Win Pool and the bottom row the Place Pool. The nearest Place Pool runner total display windows relating to runners 1 through 9 have now been filled with some of the signs that identify the 1936 Inter Dominion Final Field. These signs have been placed on the building after the Julius Tote ceased operation. Automatic Totalisators invented the world's first odds computer in 1927 and after that year Julius totes displayed the odds instead of the runner totals. The central tower housed the pool total display and manually operated dividend display. The Club Management was very obliging and interested in the history of their tote and I was shown over the ex Julius Tote Machine rooms. This was not as straight forward as it sounds. In the case of the one in the photograph, as I have observed at other locations, there is no fixed staircase to this level. A metal retractable staircase has to be lowered by electric winch to gain access to the first floor. This photograph was taken in 2011 and the Julius Tote machinery is all long gone. The only remnant was a solder terminal block still attached to a wall with the stubs of removed cables still attached to it.

I was informed by a manager of Perth Racing that there is nothing left of the Julius totes at the West Australian Turf Club. The computer room and main tote at Belmont was demolished circa 1979 and the computer room remnants at Ascot were cleared out circa 1982. ATL (Automatic Totalisators Limited) finished at Belmont and Ascot in 1977.

A 1959 WA Report of a Royal Commission On Betting indicates that Automatic Totalisators operated a mobile totalisator at Pinjarra, Northam, York, Toodyay and Beverley. It states that Automatic Totalisators has approximately 80% of totalisator turnover in Australia and in Perth has systems at the three West Australian Turf Club metro tracks presumably Ascot, Belmont Park and Helena Vale. The Perth Racing manager informed me that Helena Vale racetrack closed in 1973. According to Wikipedia, Helena Vale was the original name for the area now called Midland where Paul now works as a software engineer. The Commission Report also indicates that as well as Gloucester Park Trots, Automatic Totalisators had a totalisator operation at Richmond Park Trots. This trotting track seems to have been in Fremantle. Mr. Fairburn was the General Manager of Operations at Automatic Totalisators at the time and in the Royal Commission Report he notes a decline to totaliastor turnover comparing 1959 with 1955 which affects the gallops more than the trots.

There is a link to the Royal Commission report mentioned above in the links page of this website. Additionally there is an extract relating to The Canning Greyhound Racing Association's Greyhound racing track at Cannington in the Tote Topics chapter of this web site. Select "Go to the index" at the bottom of this page and then select Tote Topics in the index and then scroll down to the Perth heading.

More Perth January 2012 - An email from Tim Vickridge

On the 3rd of January 2012 I received an interesting email from Tim Vickridge relating to George Julius and Fremantle.

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.
I lived in Fremantle and our family bought the home from the Julius family in the early 1900s. My late mother told me a story that her mother had told her that Lady Julius had said that "George would tinker for hours out in the backyard working on a contraption with belts and pulleys"
I thought you might find that of interest.

On the 10th Tim wrote again, after I replied and asked if he knew of C.Y.O'Connor and his relationship to George Julius as well as informing him that I had placed his email on this website. I also suggested I could show him the Julius Tote in the Eagle Farm Racing Museum. His response follows:

Hi Brian
I'm honoured to be included on such an informative website about a hugely influential man.
Richmond Raceway was a trotting track in East Fremantle.
Yes I am very aware of C.Y. O'Connor as he supposedly lived in the house before his daughter and George Julius bought it. The only conflicting story is that CY did not ever own a property and died with only a few assets having rented all his life. I find it difficult to believe, given his position and salary, that this is true. I'm told that he only lived in the house for a short period. There is a CY O'Connor pub in Piara Waters, south of the Fremantle.
Yes the article was Chris McConville's.
If I get to Brisbane I will definitely make contact, I'd love to see the Tote Machine.


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