This 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 to develop, manufacture and export these systems.

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Mechanical Computing the world's First Automatic Totalisator

This image shows the selling stations of the Ellerslie 1913 totalisator which was purely mechanical. This is a significant machine in the progress of technology and computing engineering, the input - output section of the first real-time multi-user system. Three of these stations can be seen at the bottom middle of the first of the Ellerslie totalisator images in the photo gallery of this website accesible by clicking on the image. These beer tap handles, as they have been called were used by the sellers to register transactions and produce tickets. Each handle represents a runner in the race. As can be seen the highest numbered handle is 30, therefore this system supports up to 30 horses in a race. It also had 30 of these selling stations.

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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 first paragraph describes the operation of the selling stations shown in the image above:

A brief description of the method of issuing tickets will, no doubt, be sufficient regarding the "inner workings." At each window there are two men, one of whom does nothing but receive cash and hand over tickets, which he gets from the other, having called the requirements of the investor. The ticket-issuer has in front of him a magazine about 3ft high with levers on either side up to as many as required by the club. Generally 30 would be enough, but it is a matter of no trouble to supply magazines containing more (or less). When the non-starters are known, the sections bearing numbers corresponding with them are locked throughout the totalisator, and by no means can the levers of those sections be operated or tickets issued therefrom. Then to issue tickets on any of the starters the issuer pulls the lever corresponding with the number of the horse required, and a ticket is released through a slot automatically. The ringing of the starting bell, however, operates part of the mechanism by which all these levers are locked. And it is then impossible to pull them for the issue of tickets. As showing how secure the system is, it is worth pointing out that if a man had asked for five tickets on No. 10 and the bell rang when the clerk had only pulled the lever three times, all the backer would get would be three tickets, because the clerk could not get any more for him if he wanted to. His balance of £2 would, of course, be refunded with the three tickets.
Webmasters comment: It is interesting to read this 1913 reference in the paragraph above, to "how secure the system is." The writer would have had no concept what a huge subject security of computing systems of the future would become!

These, then, are the salient features of the "new idea," which is a wonderful mechanical contrivance by reason of its great extent, yet simple enough for operating at a small course. Electricity alone can give it the great advantage it possesses over other machines. Without that force it would not be possible--as it is on a similar machine at Auckland--for 51 tickets to be issued by all the sellers at the one moment and recorded simultaneously. This, of course, does not happen often, but it has been tested on the machine, while the same process was one of the tests employed on the model referred to above.
Webmasters comment: With respect to the test of "51 tickets issued by all the sellers at the one moment and recorded simultaneously", yes it is a realtime mutliuser system!


Some few months ago a machine practically the same as this was installed at Auckland, and from the first race in which it was used it was hailed with delight, by Press and public. In fact, a prominent Sydney sportsman who has only recently returned from one of several trips to New Zealand, said that the new machine had revolutionised wagering in the northern city. He stated that he found the old antipathy to the totalisator almost entirely eliminated, and expressed the opinion that nothing more satisfactory could be desired by anybody.

In addition to the one installed at Auckland, other New Zealand clubs are treating for the purchase of one, while Queensland and Western Australia may shortly have them on a couple of courses. The machine certainly looks to do what is claimed for it, and that being so we should soon be without the complaint so frequently heard nowadays that the totalisator can not thoroughly satisfy even its own devotees.

A prior segment to this Referee newspaper article extract can be seen by selecting the "Previous page" button in the Navigation Bar below.


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