This page contains a photograph which is one of several belonging to the photo gallery pages which are part of several pages relating to the invention of the world's first automatic totalizator in 1913 and Automatic Totalisators, the company founded to develop, manufacture and export these systems.

The first Automatic Totalisators Machine Shop

This photograph is labeled First Workshop ATL. This building does not look like being inside the shed in the early factory staff image, following in the gallery, where the first workshop would have been at the Newtown factory in Sydney at 146-158 Alice Street. This factory however, spanned multiple blocks and it could have been inside another building at this site. The ceiling looks more like the images of the Chalmers St. Factory near Central Station. The fact that the label refers to ATL creates some suspicion regarding the veracity of this claim as the company was not called ATL till it moved to the final factory at Meadowbank. This means the label was written, possibly long after this was ancient history in which case it may have been a guess. Whichever factory this is, this machine shop is where the electromechanical computing machinery parts were manufactured. According to The Rutherford Journal article titled An Unlikely History of Australian Computing: the Reign of the Totalisator by Lindsay Barrett and Matthew Connell, the factory moved from Newtown to the southern end of the Sydney CBD in 1930, which refers to the Chalmers St. Factory. I have in my possession a letter of commendation for my wife's Auntie's father, written by the Works Manager of Automatic Totalisators Pty. Ltd. on the 9th May 1921 and in this letter there is the Alice Street Newtown address. So this factory at Alice Street was in operation from 1921 or earlier till 1930. More after the image.
Click here to go Back
Click on the image to go back to the Photo Gallery

The photographers stamp in the image reads Hall & Co 44 Hunter Street Sydney


I find the dress standard in these early factories rather interesting. The lathe operator in the foreground is wearing a tie and a waistcoat with a chain which presumably is attached to a pocket watch. This seems to be at odds with the surroundings, the dirty floor and the swarf all around. There are two men standing together, to the left and back from the first lathe operator and look like supervisors or managers. The one in the foreground is wearing a suit and seems to be wearing a bowtie or cravat and is also wearing a hat. This gentleman appears in another photograph of the factory in the assembly section. In the other photograph there is an arrow pointing to him with three difficult to read words near the tail of the arrow. I am fairly sure the first two words read "Curtis of" however the third word is quite illusive and looks like Camera however there are many other possibilities like Camala or Camira. In any case, this man was worthy of note! The man standing next to him also appears to be wearing a suit, however if this is the case he has removed his jacket leaving his waistcoat on. There is a jacket hanging on the first pillar to the left and behind the first lathe operator, which is somewhat obscured by a foreground drive belt. He is wearing a conventional tie. The man operating a stand drill to the right and behind the near lathe operator, near the window, is wearing a hat and also seems to have a pocket watch. There are some people in the rear of the image wearing overalls, more conventional by present day standards.