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 and Automatic Totalisators Limited, the Australian company founded in 1917 by George Julius, to develop manufacture and export these systems.

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The Top of a J1 Ticket Issuing Machine (TIM) 1916

This image shows the top of a J1 Ticket Issuing Machine which was in operation in 1916, with its side covers in place and the top cover hinged open. Multiples of these machines were used on racetracks, as part of a Julius Totalisator, to record and sell totalisator tickets. The previous image in the photo gallery shows this machine with the side panels removed. To view the previous image click on the Previous page button in the nav bar at the bottom of this page. This J1 is purely mechanical. The Julius Totes became electromechanical in 1917, to amongst other things, provide for larger systems and more distributed points of sale. A drive pulley can be seen at the rear of the machine. On the nearside is a keyboard with typewriter-like keys numbered 1 to 30. Each key represents a runner in a race which means the maximum field size is 30, as the highest key number is 30.

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This photograph is over a century old and was 100 years old in 2016--Terminals for a real time multi user computing system over a century ago!


This J1 TIM, along with others, were part of an on-line, real-time, multi-user system long before the electronic systems that made these concepts commonplace. This system was referred to as The Most Modern Machine in Australia when this comment was used as a subtitle for an article in The West Australian newspaper about the Julius Totalisator in Perth, which used the J1s and was installed at Gloucester Park in 1916. An extract from The West Australian article is included later in this page.

For some reason the J1 in this image looks well used, in contrast with all the other company photographs of equipment I have seen, which all looks brand new. Perhaps the company only started systematically documenting its products after this system was in operation for some time or even after it was superseded.

Sir George Julius made a comment in a 1932 article, which appeared in the Gippsland Times Newspaper relating his thoughts on development of the totalisator. The content of this article is made available by the National Library of Australia on its Trove website with the following details:

1932 'HOW THE AUTOMATIC TOTALISATOR WAS INVENTED', Gippsland Times (Vic. : 1861 - 1954), 7 January, p. 3. , viewed 20 May 2016, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article62691937

George's comment was:

I had the idea that if electric current were employed definite action could not be guaranteed due to the permissive action of electricity as compared with positive action of a piece of machinery.

I soon discovered, however, that a design restricted to the use of positive mechanism would cripple development, as the machinery was very heavy and all the recording had to be centred at one spot. Attention was then directed to a machine in which electricity would be the connecting medium, but with safeguards to ensure that if there were any failure, the operator would be warned, and the ticket not issued.

Nowadays, we have a word for Sir George's words a machine in which electricity would be the connecting medium, he is talking about a Network. Additionally Sir George's words with safeguards to ensure that if there were any failure, the operator would be warned, and the ticket not issued would in the computer era be referred to as, error detection and reporting.

In the Gippsland Times extract above, Sir George's relates his early design philosophy in the first paragraph followed by his idea regarding future of totalisator design.

The original design philosophy which was purely mechanical resulted in at least two purely mechanical totalisators being built. I am not sure if the following two installations at the Queensland Turf Club and the Australian Jockey club were purely mechanical or electromechanical. The first Julius tote was installed at Ellerslie in New Zealand, the system that was the world's first Automatic Totalisator, and the second was installed at Gloucester Park in Perth. The J1 Ticket Issuing machine shown above, is an example of this purely mechanical design.

The second paragraph indicates Sir George's change in design philosophy, to embrace electrical elements which were incorporated in the central processing system or mainframe, as well as in the Ticket Issuing Machines (TIMs). These electrical elements are implemented in all the following TIMs in the photo gallery of this website. During the computer era a process took place of increasingly implementing functionality electronically, resulting in TIMs with only essential mechanical components where functions could not be performed electronically.

Following is the first image of eighteen, of a US patent US1288910 (A) - 1918-12-24 courtesy of The United States Patent and Trademark Office.

A machine in which electricity is the connecting medium a US patent US1288910 (A) sheet 1

The above image shows a drawing of a TIM designed by George Julius and Frederick Wilkinson. Frederick Wilkinson was a design engineer and later became the State Tote Manager of Automatic Totalisators Limited and worked for the company for 30 years. The design premise for this TIM is George's comment extracted from the quote above: Attention was then directed to a machine in which electricity would be the connecting medium. I do not know where this TIM in the image above, fits into the chronology of Julius totalisator TIM development, however the patent is dated 24th December 1918 and George Julius made the following statement regarding 1917 in the Gippsland Times article mentioned above: In 1917 I re-designed this equipment and the act of printing the tickets from blank rolls of paper transmitted the record of the sale of the ticket to the adding machine, by means of electricity.

In conclusion I think that George Julius' 1917 statement and the 1918 TIM in the patent document are very closely related. Regarding George's reference to electricity, an electrical component is clearly visible in the drawing above. In Fig. 2, down the bottom of the left hand side of the TIM is a vertical cylindrical component, which has identification numbers of 58 and 59. This today is known as a solenoid however in the descriptive section of this patent part 58 is referred to as the armature and 59 the starting magnet.

Following are three paragraphs from the descriptive part of the patent document including introductions to Fig. 1 and Fig. 2 shown in the image above:

This invention relates to machines for printing and issuing totalizator tickets, for recording the issues of such tickets, and for transmitting electrical impulses to recording and indicating mechanism.

In the accompanying drawings, Figure 1 is a perspective view of the machine inclosed(sic) in a cabinet with the selector key standing idle over the tracker desk, and a reel of ticket paper set up on the paper spool;

Fig. 2 is an interior perspective view of the portions of the machine which are observable from the operator's position as it appears when the cabinet is removed;

Sir George also made an observation about Australian workmen, in this Gippsland Times newspaper article. Sir George's concluding statement in the article is: These machines have all been built in Australia in almost every detail, and are a tribute to the abilities of the Australian workman. This applies to complete totalisator systems, including the central processing mainframe, as well as the TIMs and display systems and as such, applies to all the Julius Tote machinery on this website. In the computer era, which started about twenty years after Sir George passed away, his company Automatic Totalisators Limited, or what later became known as ATL, ended up using DEC (Digital Equipment Corporation) Minicomputer systems as the basis of the central processing part of the totalisator. The DEC Minicomputer systems were manufactured in Massachusetts in the USA.

The complete transcript of the Gippsland Times article titled How the Automatic Totalisator was Invented appears on this website in the Mechanical Aids to Calculation chapter. To view this, select the Go to the index menu option in the Nav Bar at the bottom of this page and select the Mechanical Aids to Calculation chapter.

The complete patent document mentioned above can be read in the Automatic Totalisators in America chapter of this website. To read this, select the Go to the index button in the Nav Bar at the bottom of this page and select the mentioned chapter in the index. Finally scroll down to the title A US Patent G.A.Julius & F.A.Wilkinson 1918.

Following is an extract from an article in The West Australian newspaper dated Thursday 13 May 1915, titled THE TOTALISATOR with subtitle Most Modern Machine in Australia. This article describes the new Julius Totalisator system for Gloucester Park, which was the second Julius tote installation anywhere and the first installed at Gloucester Park. This article indirectly refers to the J1 Ticket Issuing Machines, by referring to the "selling windows" where the J1s were in operation. It also directly refers to them with the statement every selling clerk is equipped with a machine, that machine being the J1. It is probable that the "J" designation for terminals eventuated later after multiple models had been developed. The reference to existing arrangements in this article refer to the arrangements prior to the introduction of the Julius Tote. Following is the extract:

Further, under the existing arrangements anyone purchasing a ticket on a particular horse must go to that window over which the name of that particular horse appears. With the new tote, however, which will contain six selling windows, the purchaser has only to go to that window which lies nearest to hand, or which is at the moment most easily accessible, and ask for and purchase the ticket required, - the only difference being that instead of, as at present, asking for a ticket on such and such a horse, the purchaser will tell the clerk that he wants a ticket on such and such a number, which corresponds in the race book with the name of the horse he requires to invest upon.

Webmaster's note: This article refers to "six selling windows" above, which require a J1 each. The company document titled "The Premier (Julius) Automatic Totalisator" records this installation as having 8 terminals. I have written more about this below to minimise distraction from the article.

This arrangement, under the old system, would naturally lead to some confusion, delay, and often mistakes. Under the new system, however, all such difficulties are overcome with mathematical precision. Every selling clerk is equipped with a machine, from which he may sell tickets on any one of the 28 horses provided for. But every one of the machines works in complete sympathy with the others, and every machine is connected in a similar manner with the number registration board at the top and outside of the building. The mechanism is so adjusted that if all the machines sold in one minute at their maximum quantity, namely, 3,000 tickets not only would the ticket, be passed through to the various purchasers in that time, but throughout the operation the registration board would go on showing the increase in the number of tickets sold on each of the horses, and at the end of the minute the total number of tickets disposed of would be there for the information of the public, who would thus be made aware on the instant of the exact odds at which each horse stood.

Continuing the Webmaster's comment above about the six selling windows:
As the company document mentioned records this installation occurring in 1916 and the newspaper article was written in 1915, I suspect the 1916 document recorded what actually happened whilst the 1915 article recorded what was being planned. I also note that the company document mentioned shows that 8 was the least amount of TIMs supplied with any of the Julius Totes recorded. It records 74 installations covering the period from 1913 to 1937. The Randwick system installed in 1917 had 150 TIMs, which makes it the first of the large Julius totes. The biggest one in this document is Longchamps with 273 terminals in 1928. A later document records the Julius Tote at White City in London ending up with 320 terminals. This company document can be read in the "Installations/Testimonials-The Premier Totalisator" chapter of this website. To read this select the "Go to the index" button in the Nav Bar at the bottom of this page and then select the chapter just mentioned in the index.

I find the above extract from The West Australian article particularly interesting; Here in the words of a writer in 1915, following his sentence Under the new system, however, all such difficulties are overcome with mathematical precision, he has described a real time multi user system in operation, a system which happens to be purely mechanical. A real time multi user system today, is considered the sole domain of electronic computers. It took almost three decades for the first generation computers to appear and longer for a computer industry to be established since this Julius real time multi user system commenced operation. The things that get forgotten! Even these behemoth machines, the Julius Totes, implemented and utilised around the world, with lifespans reaching half a century!

Unfortunately these Julius totes operated in clandestine environments and the crowds attending the racetracks, enjoying and in some cases revelling in the services these systems provided, were oblivious of the machinery and staff providing those services. Max Burnet, ex CEO of the Digital Equipment Corporation in Australia and Vice President of the Australian Computer Museum Society Inc. once said to me that had more been known about the Julius totalisators it is likely that the category of mechanical computing would have been established.

Another related comment was made during an interview conducted by Racing Queensland in the Eagle Farm Racing Museum in 2009, mainly about the Julius Tote that is the centrepiece of that museum. The interviewer demonstrated incredulity hearing about all the unheard of machinery functionality and operation, along with all the engineering and operations support staff activity I was describing, that took place behind the ex Julius Tote machine room walls, which now housed the museum, while the rest of the racecourse staff and the crowds of patrons including himself, on the other side of these walls had no idea of what was happening on the inside.

His incredulity continued when hearing about the massive amounts of overtime required to ensure the success of the computer based totalisator systems which replaced the Julius totes in the Brisbane region and the strings of anecdotes relating tense times dealing with major problems whilst the mass of people outside the computer room confines similarly remained oblivious to what was happening on the inside. Unfortunately it was not possible to contain all the problems associated with the introduction of the new computer totalisator systems and occasionally symptoms were externally evident.

Crowd at Wellington Racing ClubAn image of the crowds at Wellington Racing Club in 1936

On the subject of the crowds attending the racetracks, I have included the images above and below to show the type of crowds the Julius totes had to deal with.

The image above shows the crowd at the Wellington Racing Club's Trentham Racecourse in New Zealand at the 1st day Spring Meeting in October 1936. This recently upgraded Julius tote at the time was newly in operation with 50 TIMs, the first Julius tote having been installed here in 1920 with 32 TIMs.

The Secretary of the Wellington Racing Club writes about the Club's first Julius totalisator after it has been in operation for two years:

The Automatic Totalisator installed at Trentham has been severely tested during the last two years. The turnover has been exceptionally heavy, on one occasion 102,000 pounds being invested on eight races. It is safe to say that the public are well served, better than ever before, and they in common with the executive of the Club are satisfied that the machine is the best on the market at the present time.

The image below shows the Main Tote House at Doomben Racecourse in Brisbane in 1960. The mainframe part of a Julius tote is in operation in the first floor level of the tote house. In each of the windows on the ground floor there are Julius tote TIMs in operation that are connected to the mainframe above. The queues at each window can clearly be seen. The line of selling windows seen in the photograph are repeated on the other side of the main tote house building. Other tote houses around the track also have TIMs that are connected to the mainframe on the first floor of this main tote house.

An image of the crowds at the main tote house at Doomben racecourse in 1960 Crowd at the BATC Doomben Racecourse

I find it particularly interesting to note that all this totalisator activity described above in the 1915 and 1916 newspaper articles, took place whilst the First World War was raging. The wheels of the Totalisator keep turning regardless! It reminds me of another example of this. During the second World War, an Automatic Totalisators Limited engineer was incarcerated in Manila by the Japanese Army. He was allowed out on the week ends to run the totalisator!

Regarding the tote operating during the war years, it became obvious that I was completely mistaken to think that it seemed inappropriate to operate a totalisator during a world war, when I read a 1946 article on the Gloucester Park totalisator in the Western Mail newspaper titled IDEA THAT PAID DIVIDENDS, which was in the Trove newspaper Internet archive. This article being written in 1946 is referring to the second world war and therefore relates to the second Julius Tote that was installed at Gloucester Park in 1929. Following is the pertinent extract:

Citation: 1946 'Romance of the automatic tote had origins in this State The Gloucester Park totalisator at night. IDEA THAT PAID DIVIDENDS', Western Mail (Perth, WA : 1885 - 1954), 5 December, p. 26. , viewed 28 Feb 2017, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article36951074

War Boosted Turnover

THE two totalisators in this State augment the incomes of Over 200 employees and in 1945-46 over £16,000 was paid in wages. When the totalisator at Gloucester Park was installed it was estimated that the maximum amount which could be handled at a meeting would be £30,000. Before the war a maximum turnover of £20,000 had not been reached.

During the war the boom was such that £30,000 turnover was not only attained, but £40,000 was reached and exceeded on four occasions, the maximum put through at one meeting being about £44,000.

In Western Australia 13½ per cent is deducted from the totalisator turnover. Of this amount the Government takes 7½ per cent, by far the largest deduction of any State in Australia. The remaining 6 per cent is taken by the club, out of which the cost of operating the totalisator is borne.

The many big dividends paid by the "tote" makes another story. That some big bettors use the machine is shown by a recent pay-out at Gloucester Park when an investor who had put £30 each way on a winning horse was paid in cash (at his own request) the handy sum of £966.

Still on the subject of tote operation in wartime, Chris Robertson an ex high value punter and expert on totalisator history, wrote the following comment in March 2017 about the Longchamps Julius totalisator in Paris France:
Regarding the tote betting during the war: Longchamps continued racing under German Occupation during World War 2. That probably meant the Julius tote was printing tickets for German troops on leave, as well as for the many Vichy government collaborators spending a day at the races.

Full sized versions of the two images of crowds above can be seen elsewhere on this website. To view them and read more about them, select the Go to the index button in the Nav Bar below and then select the Photo Gallery + synchronicity chapter. Finally, select the image thumbnails in sequence in the Photo Gallery directory, corresponding to the required images.

Another extract from The West Australian newspaper article can be read in the previous page by selecting the Previous page button in the navigation bar below and scrolling down to the third last paragraph.

The complete article from The Western Mail newspaper can be read in the second last page before this one by selecting the Previous page button in the navigation bar below and then selecting the Previous page button at the bottom of that page. Finally scroll down to the heading Romance of the automatic tote had origins in this State.


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