This page contains an image 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.

Brough Park Newcastle 3-3 shaft GT Adder - Electro-Mechanical Computing on an industrial scale

This image is of a Grand Total Adder for Brough Park racetrack Newcastle Upon Tyne. The installation of this system was in 1936. The photograph was taken inside the Automatic Totalisators factory in Chalmers Street Sydney. The writing on the back of the photograph reads: Brough Park Newcastle - View of 3-3 shaft Grand Total machines on one frame (W.P.&F.) - Note that middle shaft of each section is speeded up. This is to enable that shaft to hold 10/- betting without unduly running the storage screws in.-Grand Totals have two units shafts (each 3 escapements) and one tens shaft to keep speeds down as at White City. W.P.&F. in this text stands for Win Place and Forecast pools.

A look at a mechanical storage device long before the electronics that made storage a common concept

The comment about the storage screws raises a very interesting point for technologists interested in the history of computing. If you are interested in the storage screw or the workings of the adder read further in the text below the image.
Click here to go Back
Click on the image to go back to the Photo Gallery



I am intrigued by the analogies between these mechanical and electromechanical systems to computer systems. The word storage runs off the tongue of any computer technologist. One of the most widespread use of the word in this field is in the concept of mass storage. Whatever the application of this word in computing it conveys the basic requirement of memory. I suspect none reading this will have heard the term Storage Screw however it can be thought of as a type of memory. It originated from a problem associated with inertia. The adding shafts with their escapement wheels and epicyclic gears could respond quickly to the demands of betting as they were relatively low in mass. When it came to large counter wheel indicator displays or any larger mass devices these had to overcome significant inertia. In simplistic terms, as transactions are recorded as increments of rotation, a screw is wound into a nut by the fast response part of the machinery capable of keeping up with the requirements of the bet traffic. At the other end the nut is unwound from the screw at a rate that the slower equipment can accelerate or decelerate at. The screw remembers the rotation generated by the fast adding equipment and is read at the slower rate that the heavier equipment can achieve. To have a look at an Engineering Drawing of this storage screw, go to the Figures from George Julius' paper presented to the Institution of Engineers Australia in 1920 section of the Photo Gallery by clicking on the image and clicking on the first icon in this section. A couple of computer devices come to mind when thinking of this, the delay line or specifically the mercury delay line an early memory device and a shift register.

Following are some comments in the words of George Julius, extracted from a paper he presented to the Institution of Engineers Australia on Thursday May 13th 1920, when a machine that had been built and tested capable of supporting 1,000 terminals and a sell rate of 250,000 bets per minute was demonstrated.
In other words, the mechanism that stores up the records has to control a variable speed gear, which will as required gradually speed up or gradually retard the counters, and so avoid all shock to the mechanism.
...
The epicyclic gears are made as light as possible, and are urged forward by " coil springs " and not by "weights." This ensured the instantaneous response of the epicyclic gears to the demands of the ticket-sellers. The movement of these gears so obtained is transferred to a " storage " screw which serves two functions, firstly, that when the machine is at rest it locks the driving gear which operates the counter wheels, and, secondly that when issues are to be recorded, it stores-up the records until they are registered by the counters. Immediately the tickets are issued the epicyclic gears instantly operate, being driven by the coil spring, and in so doing they turn the screw which then unlocks the driving gear for the counter, and the counter begins to operate. In so operating, this driving gear also moves a nut, which, acting on the storage screw, tends to bring it back to its normal position of rest, and thus again lock the counter driving mechanism. Thus the epicyclic gears in picking up impulses received from the ticket-sellers move the screw backwards, and the, driving gear of the counter is always trying to overtake this movement and thus return the screw to its normal position.
The movement of this screw is so arranged that it also controls a variable speed friction gear through which the counters are driven. During any period of acceleration in the issue of tickets, the screw is withdrawn in the nut faster than the counter operates, and this through the friction gear speeds up the counter, and the nut, in an endeavour to overtake the movement of the screw, and a condition of balance is ultimately established. If the issue of tickets is retarded or ceases, the nut immediately gains on the screw and brings it forward, thereby picking up all the stored-up records, and by means of the friction gear gradually slowing down the counter until when all the records are recorded, it quietly comes to rest. The rotation of the nut also is utilised to continually rewind the coil spring which operates the epicyclic gears, and thus ensure a steady driving effort on these gears.
The whole operation is entirely automatic and the speed is adjusted to suit the requirements of the ticket issuing. The arrangement of gears, screw , and nut is shown diagrammatically in Figure No. 10, and in more detail in Figure No. 11.

The part of George's paper that is pertinent to this website is presented in the Mechanical Aids to Calculation Chapter of this website.

The storage screw assembly can be seen as cylindrical shafts that connect the adding shafts at the rear of the adder with their escapement wheels and epicyclic gears to the large cogs behind the nearest stationary mounting sections which are behind the pairs of meshing cogs with the lower cog of the pair attached to the front of the table. In other words they are the longest round shafts running from the rear of the adder to the cogs at the front which are the highest cogs in the adder. These cogs attached to the front of the table provide the drive for the adder mechanism and will be driven by a motor under the table when it was installed in Brough Park. When I first read the note on the back of the photograph I wondered how you could tell that the middle shaft of each section was sped up. When I realised that the cogs on the front of the table were the drive cogs it became obvious. The gear ratio of each middle shaft of a group of three has a larger driving cog and a smaller driven cog than the others which means these shafts will rotate faster than the others.

As I have mentioned the adding shafts above, if you wish to have a look at an Engineering Drawing of the epicyclic gear arrangement and escapement wheels on this shaft, go to the Figures from George Julius' paper presented to the Institution of Engineers Australia in 1920 section of the Photo Gallery by clicking on the image and clicking on the second icon in this section.

The following is my speculation as I have never worked on any of the Julius Totes or seen one working. I worked on the computer totalisators after Julius tote production had ceased. I find the analogy of the nut and screw a little hard to comprehend however I think this is because of some preconceived ideas. One thinks of a nut as relatively short and a screw as relatively long. Additionally one tends to think of one end being stationary with the screw being held in position whilst a nut is tightened on it or the screw rotating into a fixed or held nut. The nuts in this equipment, are the long tubular sections, as previously identified in this image, which are threaded on the inside. Each of these rotate at the speed of the slower equipment if the screw is not in its resting position effectively unwinding the screw until it returns to its resting position. The screw is small in comparison to the length of the shaft, allowing it considerable movement up and down the shaft and is more like a grub screw. This storage screw is wound into the nut, driven by the fast adding shafts. The driving shaft from the adders passes through the centre of the screw and a keyed notch or notches allow the driving shaft to turn the screw whilst allowing the screw to travel up and down the shaft, driven by the threads of the nut. If anyone has any ideas on this matter I am thankful for any suggestions. To send email, click on the image and scroll to the bottom of the Photo Gallery page and use the email link there.

I have seen 1940s era Julius Totes and although I have not seen this sort of adder I am fairly certain of the following observation. Protruding from the driven gears at the front of the adder, that is the ones engaged with the driving cogs underneath, attached to the table, are spindles with springs on them. These springs are tensioned by the driven cogs. When the springs are fully tensioned a clutch inside the driven cog separates the drive motion from the adding shafts. This is necessary as the drive motion is continuous and the adder rotation is erratic as the nature of people laying wagers is erratic. When the spring requires rewinding, the clutch engages again. Above the shafts with springs and to the left there is a rod that seems to be an extension of the storage screw. This seems to be part of the storage screw mechanism however I do not know what its function is.

There is no photographer's stamp on this photograph.