This technology history 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, its inventor George Julius and his company Automatic Totalisators Limited founded in 1917 in Australia to develop, manufacture and export these totalisator systems.

The world's first Odds Computer

This is an image of the world's first Odds Computer, invented in 1927 by George Julius and manufactured by his company Automatic Totlisators Limited.

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Up till this time, only pool figures were displayed to the public but, in 1927, Mr. Julius came to light with automatic odds, which was probably the biggest milestone in the Company's existence. Models of this type of equipment were taken to London and North and South America. In 1930, Automatic Odds Equipment was installed at Harringay Dog Track in London, and the following year Automatic Odds Barometer Indicators were installed at Flemington, Caulfield, Moonee Valley and at Williamstown Racecourses in Victoria, Australia. It is as well to point out here that at this stage legislation had only just been passed to permit totalizator betting in the State of Victoria and that these installations were done in the middle of the depression years and represented the largest single bulk order from a group of racecourses. During this period an associate company, Totalisators Ltd, was formed in London to manufacture, install and operate totalisators in the United Kingdom, Europe and Africa.

An example of a Julius Tote Barometer Indicator Canterbury Jockey Club Riccarton

The above image shows an example of a Julius Tote Barometer indicator which is referred to in the previous paragraph as Automatic Odds Barometer Indicators. It is on the side of an old tote house building at Riccarton Racecourse in Christchurch New Zealand, long after it was last used as a totalisator building and looking in tip-top condition. I was very impressed by this extremely well preserved old tote house and indicator when I saw it in 2007. The vertical yellow bands, left at differing heights on the face of the indicator, give an idea of what the indicator looked like when it was in operation and their likeness to an old mercury barometer is what gave rise to this type of indicator's name.

On the first installation at Harringay Dog Track, in London, odds were displayed on a Digital Indicator and a pointer, like the hands of a watch, indicating the odds on the particular starter. The mechanical analogue Odds Computer was an ingenious device which undoubtedly put the company in the forefront as Totalizator Engineers.

Immediately after the depression, Automatic Odds installations went to India, New Zealand and right throughout Australia. The first installation in the United States was made in 1932, when equipment was installed at Hialeah Racetrack in Miami, Florida. The second world war in the late 1930s put an end to totalizator manufacture and installation for almost 10 years. During the war years the factory, which had moved to Chalmers Street Sydney in 1933, went into full production for the Department of Defence and later the company expanded the munitions work to include tooling.

Following is an extract from a company document titled The PREMIER (JULIUS) AUTOMATIC TOTALISATOR, which has two low resolution versions of the type of odds calculator shown above, labelled FIG. 21. and FIG. 22. on page thirteen. This company document has the following text associated with these figures. This document text drifts from the shaft adders to the Indicators and this extract starts at the point where it moves onto the indicators. The first sentence overlaps with the previous extract as this is where the transition from the Adders to the Indicators starts. It refers to the newly available odds displays which Automatic Totalisators Limited manufactured after George Julius invented the world's first odds computer. This is the tenth and final extract in a sequence of extracts from the company document contained in multiple Photo Gallery pages. The previous extract can be read in the Photo Gallery page accessible by clicking on the image at the top of this page and scrolling up in the index table to and selecting the image thumbnail which has associated text starting with the words This image shows an ornate early large system adder ... , which is in the group of images in the index table titled Randwick Racecourse Sydney New South Wales:

Adding Machines

Webmaster's note: The preceding text under this heading is in the previous extract and continues here:

As previously described, Premier equipment is now available, and is, in fact, in use by means of which the result of the betting can be displayed to the public in terms of the "expected dividend" or "odds" on the horse, in place of the more usual and older method of recording only the "number" of tickets sold. The equipment used for this purpose is of simple type, and accurately and instantaneously makes the necessary percentage deduction from the grand total pool, whether it be on a "win" or a "place" machine, and at the same time calculates the amount of the dividend that would be paid to the "winning" or "placed" horses, as the case may be, at that instant in the betting.

Figs. 21 and 22 show the front and side views of a typical "Premier" Odds Indicator Equipment. The mechanism shown records for each of two horses the total number of tickets sold on each horse by the inner hand on each of the two inner dials, and the "expected Dividend" or "Odds" for each of the two horses by the outer hand on the outer dials and the total number of tickets sold on all the horses in the race by the upper dial and hand.

Webmaster's note:

There are some differences between figures 21 and 22 in the company document and the image at the top of the page. Firstly the top image above gives an edge on view which provides a combined view of both the front and side as provided by Figs. 21 and 22. Secondly, instead of providing records for each of two horses, the demonstration calculator in this top image above provides for four horses. Thirdly, the odds indicators in this top image only have one hand and do not have the inner hand and consequently do not provide the total number of tickets sold on each horse, only the odds. Finally the number of tickets sold on all the horses, grand total dial and hand, instead of being on the top as in the company document, is on the bottom in the image at the top of this page.
The calculations involved in determining the expected dividend in the case of the "Paddock" Machine at Randwick, New South Wales, will provide a very good example of the functions that this "odds" calculating apparatus could perform, were such equipment installed on that course.

The machine in question was installed for "place" betting and the "pool" is divided in the ratio of 60 per cent. for the backers of the winning horse, and 20 per cent. each for the backers of the second and third horses. Before the pool is divided however, a deduction of 12½ per cent. has to be made from the grand total of the investments, this 12½ per cent. representing the fixed deduction made by the Government on all moneys passing through the totalisator. An investor, therefore, to determine the dividend that he may expect on any particular horse, has first to deduct 12½ per cent. from the grand total, as displayed on the indicator. He then has to divide up the remaining amount in the ratio of 60 per cent., 20 per cent., and 20 per cent. and finally has to divide these reduced amounts by the "number" representing the investments on the particular horse in which he is interested, so that he may discover the dividend that he would receive, should his horse run first, second or third. Whilst he is making these calculations, the totalisator indicators are all moving rapidly, and usually an approximate result only can be obtained. THE PREMIER ODDS INDICATOR DOES THE WHOLE OF THESE OPERATIONS AUTOMATICALLY and INSTANTANEOUSLY, AND DISPLAYS TO THE PUBLIC THE DIVIDEND THAT MAY BE EXPECTED ON EACH HORSE, WHETHER IT BE ON A WIN MACHINE OR A PLACE MACHINE.


Various methods have been adopted with Premier equipment for displaying to the public the results of the calculations made by the machine, and these methods are shown on pages 16 and 17 herein. As previously mentioned such indicators may be located in close association with the main totalisator machine, or on any other point on the racecourse, and in the earlier equipments each subsidiary indicator required for its operation at least one trained operator, whose duty it was to look after the equipment, and to reset the various records to zero, at the end of the betting on each race. IN THE LATEST TYPE OF PREMIER EQUIPMENT, ALL INDICATORS ARE FULLY AUTOMATIC, AND REQUIRE NO OPERATOR IN ATTENDANCE. They accurately record from instant to instant the results of the calculations made by the adding machines and express such results either in terms of "numbers" of tickets sold, or as "expected dividends" or "odds," and at the end of the betting on each race the subsidiary indicators are automatically set back to zero by the setting back of the main machine. The simplicity and compactness of these new indicators, and the elimination of any need for operators, makes it possible to install such equipment in any relatively restricted space, such, for instance, as close up to the back or end of the grandstand, or on the face of any other existing buildings.

Webmaster's note: I have lived through the large scale introduction of digital computers into the workplace and seen them render staff redundant. From the above, it is evident that technology did not have to wait for the first electronic computers to render staff redundant!

The use of these "full automatic" subsidiary indicators has also greatly reduced the amount of electric energy required for the operation of the equipment--a factor of very great importance in large totalisator installations.

Webmaster's note: And as time went on, efficiency in general became more and more of a concern!

One of the greatest advantages of the latest form of Premier equipment is its flexibility, which permits of its installation in such a way as will meet the requirements of any course, whether large or small. Selling booths may be located just as the needs of the course may require. Indicators may be located wherever there may be a group of selling booths, and even, also, in the middle of the Racecourse, so that the progress of the betting may be visible to every person in the various stands around the Course.

On smaller Courses, buildings may be provided suitable for the housing of Premier equipment, and the whole machine constructed so that within 24 hours it can readily be transferred from such a building on one Racecourse to a similar building on another, making allowance, of course, for the distance between the two courses. This arrangement makes it possible for a group of small country Clubs to purchase one equipment to serve all their race meetings, provided such meetings do not fall upon the same day. To meet even smaller requirements, a portable equipment, mounted on a suitable motor lorry, can be supplied. Such equipment would contain its own electrical power plant, all its calculating machines, and its indicators, and could travel from course to course, as required.

Webmaster's note:

Although I started with Automatic Totalisators Limited 77 years after the above was written, these principles were very much still in use. The PDP11 computer based totalisator systems that I worked on, that replaced the Julius Totalisators in the Brisbane region, were mobile and the transaction processors were installed in two semi-trailers that serviced five racetracks. Two separate systems were required due to the condition presented in the previous paragraph, that one system cannot be used as a solution if multiple meetings are conducted at the same time. The ticket issuing machines and other mobile equipment was transported separately to the central computers in the semis however.

Motor Truck type of portable totalisator Image of figure 24 Motor Truck type of portable totalisator

An illustration of the erection of a subsidiary "barometer" type of Indicator on the back of a grandstand is shown in Fig. 23, and in Fig. 24 an illustration is given of a typical motor-truck type of portable machine, suitable for small country racecourses. In this latter equipment the selling booths can be permanently erected on each course, small, light wooden sheds only being required, and the ticket-issuing machines could be installed within a few minutes in these booths, and be transported at the end of the meeting to some other course.

Webmaster's notes:

Again, A Julius Tote "barometer" type of Indicator is shown in the image above titled An example of a Julius Tote Barometer Indicator as well as the one on the side of the drawing of a truck in the image immediately above.

The image above titled Motor Truck type of portable totalisator shows Fig. 24 referred to in the company document paragraph immediately below the image, and is extracted from the same company document.

The text in the image above just mentioned reads: FIG. 24. Typical "Motor Truck" type of portable Totalisator for small country racecourses, showing small independent "Sell and Pay" booths and portable Barometer Type Indicator.

The truck shown as a foreground drawing in Fig. 24. can be seen in the background painting/drawing of the racetrack scene, behind the grandstand. Two of the independent shed-like Sell and Pay booths mentioned, can be seen at the far left of the image on the near side of the truck in the racetrack scene and to the left of the tree, which is on the right hand side of the grandstand. There are five groups of people in the racetrack scene which is typical of racetracks today. First the ones in the grandstand second the ones near the track paying attention to the horses, third the ones associated with what looks like a function tent located top right, which has a sign above the entrance containing one word "BAR" and the other two are associated with the tote. Fourth are the group behind the grandstand looking at the mobile indicator board and fifth consists of two groups doing the same thing, queueing up at the independent shed-like Sell and Pay booths.

Finally, in the bottom left corner of the racetrack scene, there is writing Smith & Julius Studios followed by what looks like initials, which are not clear, possibly TAP except the horizontal component of the T which should be on top is an extension of the horizontal component of the A in the middle which stops at the vertical member of the T. I find Smith & Julius Studios interesting, as I have seen other evidence that George Julius or another family member might have been involved in what is probably an art studio. I have discovered from DESIGN & ART AUSTRALIA ONLINE that the Julius in Smith & Julius Studios was Harry Julius, also known as Henry George Julius and that the company was an advertising agency. George Julius of Totalisator History fame, who I will refer to using his full name George Alfred Julius to avoid confusion, was twelve years older than Harry so if there is a family connection it must be in their ancestors. If it is a coincidence that they have the same surname it is even stranger that Harry Julius should also be known as Henry George Julius. Another strange coincidence that I have determined from The Kings Candlesticks website is that there is a Henry (Harry) George Archibald Julius in George Julius' family who was born in Sydney 31 years after Henry George Julius from Smith & Julius Studios. One thing appears fairly certain, that George Alfred Julius knew Henry George Julius, as Henry's company Smith & Julius Studios, was producing advertising material for George's company Automatic Totalisators Limited.