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 Limited, the company founded to develop, manufacture and export these systems.

Copyright © 1997 - 2017 Email -

The Drive Section of World's First Automatic Totalisator

This image shows the top of the drive section of the Ellerslie tote mechanical computer shown in the first image in the Photo Gallery. The ratchets are attached to the cogs from which the motivating weights are dangling via chains as can be seen in the first of the Ellerslie images. Half way along the double horizontal supporting beams there is a crank handle attached to a ratchet on the upper beam. This is probably a portable handle and can be used to wind up any of the weights when they are getting low. There is one of these weights for every runner and the weight provides motive force for the aggregating equipment associated with the runner. The grand total counter wheels can be seen on the right hand wall near the centre of the photograph. This can be seen from the outside in the tote house image, which precedes this one in the Photo Gallery, underneath the roof apex of the central part of the building with the words GRAND TOTAL above.
Click here to go Back
Click on the image to go back to the Photo Gallery

If you arrived from navigating the website, use the navigation bar at the bottom of this page.

The photographer's stamp on this photo reads: FARNALL ART PHOTOGRAPHER 402-420 Victoria Arcade Auckland Phone 2974
This photograph is over a century old and was 100 years old in 2013--part of a real time multi user computing system over a century ago!

Following is part of an article that appeared in The Referee newspaper on 17th December 1913. It is titled THE TOTALISATOR WHICH ENSURES INSTANTANEOUS REGISTRATION with a subtitle of OTHER GREAT IMPROVEMENTS--ACCEPTABLE CHRISTMAS BOX FOR DEVOTEES OF THE MACHINE. It relates to the first of the Julius Totes which was installed at Ellerslie as shown in the image above and is considered the world's first automatic totalisator.

The Citation: A TOTALISATOR THAT REGISTERS INSTANTNEOUSLY (1913, December 17). Referee (Sydney, NSW : 1886 - 1939), p. 7. Retrieved December 1, 2016, from


The feeling against all this kind of thing became so strong in New Zealand that the Government introduced a Bill, which is now law, to the effect that horses were not to be allowed to leave the post until the business of the totalisator was complete. To meet that objection they now try closing the machine five minutes before the advertised time of starting a race, and the horses are kept waiting at the post for the rest of the time. To the greatest tyro the evil effect of keeping highly-strung horses "banging about" must be obvious; and it is no wonder that at the big meeting at Auckland last Chrismas there was an outcry because horses had to be kept 20 minutes in the starter's hands before they got away. Summed-up, therefore, it will be seen that the main charge against the tote--as a tote--is its inability to complete its business by the time a race should be started, and from time to time various devices and schemes have been brought forward to do away with this dilemma; but without any material success.

For instance, "marble machines" were introduced. In these the pressing of a button or the touching of a lever released a marble, which got to the horse indicator, altered it, and then travelled to the indicator directing total investments. Not such a heavy procedure as might appear, but one, nevertheless, fraught with great possibilities of congestion--and congestion on a tote means confusion worse confounded.


However, believers in the totalisator have not diminished their efforts towards securing their objective, and it remains for a Sydney man to bring forward a machine which apparently is possessed of sufficient virtue to do all that is asked of it in the respect indicated, at any rate. The biggest problem of the totalisator seems to be solved; and several high-pressure tests of the model which the writer saw gave surprisingly satisfactory results. The new machine is the invention of Mr. G. A. Julius, a consulting engineer, of Culwulla Chambers, Sydney.


The external appearance of the machine does not differ to any extent from those generally known; but the "inner workings" do--considerably. The basis of all its working is electricity, which, by means of a wonderfully ingenious internal mechanism, permits of an instantaneous registration of every ticket sold, not only on the horse fancied, but on the grand total. Thus, if a ticket is taken on, say, No. 3, the total appearing against that number would be advanced one, while simultaneously the grand total would advance a similar degree. But that is only a minor virtue possessed by the machine. If every clerk sells tickets on a certain horse at the same time the record is just as fast and just as complete.

Webmaster's comment:

I am confused about the statement in the above paragraph which relates the basis of all working to be electricity. My understanding of the Ellerslie 1913 Julius tote system was that it was purely mechanical. The image at the top of this page, showing the drive section of the Ellerslie Julius tote clearly demonstrates it is mechanical, driven by weights. There is no sign of any electrical components here in the drive section, probably the first place one would expect to see evidence of electricity being utilised, with electric motors replacing weights. Furthermore, my understanding is that the Julius Totes only became electromechanical in 1917 and there is no evidence, in the other images of the 1913 Ellerslie Julius Tote in the Photo Gallery of this website, of electricity being utilised. I have read that some of the later electromechanical Julius Totes, were nicknamed the "Electric Tote." It is difficult to imagine what the perception of technology 103 years ago may have been like. Perhaps the electrical elements of this system are the Starters Bell, mentioned below in the second heading and possibly an internal tote telephone system as telephones are used as an analogy in the next paragraph. Additionally some contemplation in this article speculates about systems for larger applications like Randwick and Flemington racecourses mentioned in the next paragraph. Subsequent Julius Totes installed at Ellerslie were electromechanical and Julius totes, as speculated, were later installed at Randwick and Flemington. Perhaps there was already speculation in 1913 about utilising electricity in the Julius Tote to cope with the demands of larger operations. Everything else written in this article about this system is recognisable.


That is a tremendous advance on past totalisator methods, and to obtain such a result on one machine alone would be sufficiently noteworthy to attract considerable attention; but the machine is so constructed that it is possible to connect any number of booths--near or far--all to operate in conjunction with the main structure. Little, indeed, but can be overcome by electricity; and as in a telephone exchange additional connections can go on indefinitely.

These additional booths obviously relieve the pressure at the main machine--indeed, on such courses as Randwick and Flemington it would be absolutely necessary to have several of them to cope with the demand for investment. And--here is the greatest of all the virtues of the machine--no matter how many booths, each records immediately and simultaneously every investment made on any. In short, the face of each is a replica of that of the central machine all the time, so that from one end of the course to the other everybody is able to tell the state of the market--not at any given point--but according to the total money invested all over the course. That is an essential, for it would be absurd to have machines in different parts of Randwick or Flemington probably paying varied dividends on the winning horse. Undoubtedly the greatest point of the machine under review is its power to treat all investments on one basis, even though received through many channels.

The manner of working the machine does not concern the public so much as its claim to obviate the bulk of the ambiguities of the current systems. If it did there is plenty of evidence from Auckland that it fulfils its promises; while there is also in the office of the inventor a large model which the writer saw tested in various ways and in the testing of which he assisted. His own experience in totalisators had made him conversant with the difficulties of running the machines to suit everybody, and a comprehensive examination and testing of this model convinced him that it opened the way to an altogether new era in totalisator wagering.

Webmaster's notes:

I find it interesting to hear modern computing concepts described for the first time in the language of 1913. The first paragraph after the heading above, refers to number of booths. A booth is a selling position containing the machinery that today would be regarded as an I/O (Input/Output) device like a terminal or TIM (Ticket Issuing Machine). In this, the first of the Julius Totes the equipment in the booths was permanently installed however in the very next installation at Gloucester Park, this equipment was self contained and portable, resembling more the terminals of today. Also it refers to being able to attach these booths near and far, a concept that today would be called a network. It also indicates that this is an expandable network. This paragraph refers to the main structure which today would be called a mainframe. As we have multiple operators for the multiple terminals this article has described a multi-user system. The second paragraph, referring to recording immediately and simultaneously every investment is a concept attributable to a real-time system. Another reference to the network and multi-user aspect of the system comes at the end of the second paragraph treat all investments on one basis, even though received through many channels.


The points outlined are sufficient to indicate that; but there is one other which must appeal to the public who know totalisators. Bearing in mind the instantaneous registration (on horse and aggregate) it will readily be seen what an immense advance is made in that the machine is locked absolutely in every respect--all windows, all ticket magazines, and the main indicator--by the ringing of the starter's electric bell which signals the despatch of his field. The second that bell rings it is impossible for any clerk to issue a ticket in any way whatever, while it is likewise impossible for any figure on any part of the machine to be altered. That great boon would not be possible, of course, without the greater blessing of instantaneous registration.

Webmaster's note:

In the paragraph above the words the machine is locked absolutely in every respect written in 1913, is probably the beginning of that massive computer concern today called security.

More of this Referee newspaper article can be read by slecting the Next page button in the navigation bar below.
A prior segment to this article extract can be read by selecting the Previous page button in the navigation bar below, then scrolling down to the bottom and doing the same in that page and finally scrolling down to the heading "Totes before the first Automatic Totalisator".


Fancy Line

Comments and suggestions welcome to animated email logo

Previous page Go to the index Top of the page Next page