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.

World's 3rd Automatic Totalizator Eagle Farm 1917


This image shows the World's third automatic totalizator, the second in Australia after Gloucester Park in Perth. It was the last of the purely mechanical Julius totes. The following installation at Randwick, was the first of the electromechanical Julius Totes. This system at Eagle Farm had 24 Ticket Issuing Machines (TIMs). This was a unique installation as a company document makes the following comment about the TIMs: These machines were never fully installed by the licencees, who used automatic ticket selling devices of their own design, with pre printed tickets in place of the automatic issuers supplied with the machine. It is curious that a pre printed ticket issuing machine was used by the customer as the printing of the ticket at the time of issue was a major feature of the Julius Tote. It improved security and eliminated the waste of unsold preprinted tickets. Possibly the customer provided machines which were adapted from some existing machines that the selling staff were familiar with. A second Julius Totalisator was installed at Eagle Farm racetrack circa 1948, which was electromechanical. I came on the scene in 1979 with the introduction of the PDP11 computer based totalisator systems that superseded the Julius Totes in the Brisbane region.

Although this building has changed some since this photograph, I worked in this building for 32 years and I recognise it as, what was at the time the Main Tote House. We continued to use this name during my tenure as it was the home of the central computers, although the selling activity had become more distributed around the track. The distribution of the TIMs around the track had already begun with the second Julius tote installed here as the electrical cable connections between the TIMs and the central processing unit allowed much greater distance of the TIMs from the central system. The distribution and number of TIMs was extended further with the introduction of the new computer based totalisator systems.

More reminiscing after the image...


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At the time of writing, April 2014, the ground floor of this building is a magnificent function room called The Tote. Upstairs is the Eagle Farm Racing Museum, which exists in the 1940s Julius Tote Machine Room, where that system is still standing and is the centrepiece of the museum. The Racing Museum spent many years in the room below the indicator in this image. Behind the indicator is the machine room of the original 1917 Julius Tote. I started work on the computer totalizator system at Eagle Farm in 1979 and this indicator part of the building was long gone, leaving this section of the building only one storey, with the roof at the base of the indicator. It rose to two stories behind this indicator. Another change is that the building has been rendered. I have never seen the bare brick version of it.

The 97 years are taking their toll on this photograph, which now is obviously blemished by what appears to be some life form making a meal of it! The rose garden at the base of the building is very much alive and well today and the fence that separates the Leger from the rest of the track is still standing.

The rose garden runs north along the side of the fence from the building to the edge of the track and then turns west and runs along the track side fence past the front of the public stand and up to the members stand. The tote house in this image is L shaped and the bottom of the L can be seen in the distance, between the left hand end of the ground floor room and the far left pillar supporting the upper floor. As mentioned, at present the part of this building where the Julius Tote indicator is seen, is now only one storey. Past this removed section, the building rises to two stories in two sections. Where the building finally rises to incorporate the second storey the Eagle Farm Racing Museum begins. This is now one room however it used to be two rooms. The nearest, was an office which sat in front of the 1940s Julius Tote machine room. There was a wall between the office with louvre windows in it that looked into the machine room where the central processing frame stands like a leviathan. I always thought that this was the Chief Engineers office during the operational years of this system. This was my office for many years, seemingly appropriately when I was Chief Engineer of the Tote during the computer tote era when the neighbouring machine room was no longer used. This office had two big windows opposing the louvre windows, that looked out of the photograph over the rose gardens and the expanse of the beautiful green racetrack. After this office I had an office downstairs in this building next to our newly constructed maintenance section which was at the southern end of what now is the function room called The Tote.

On the subject of changes on the track, when you enter the racetrack, you drive through the large main gates at the northern end of Racecourse Road. Driving north you are confronted with another driveway gate and a wall of buildings with a row of customer entrance doorways. These doorways, which all had ATL turnstiles, were used by visitors, to pay entrance fees and gain access to the track grounds. When driving in through the second gates which were closed on a race day, the first building you see is the one in the photograph, on the right hand side. The road we have entered on, can be seen in this photograph behind the palm tree on the right hand side. All the buildings you see at this point give an impression of history and something unchanging.

As mentioned I have seen changes in my time at the track. The technical staff I inherited, who used to work on the Julius totes, told me of changes they had seen. The Flat for instance, was a permanent betting facility that stood on the infield of the track and when I started working at Eagle Farm, all that remained was some of the foundations of the buildings there. There is an image of The Flat in the photo gallery pages of this website. To see it click on the image above and scroll down and select the image thumbnail with starting text This is The Flat at Eagle Farm Racetrack...

Driving further along the entrance road you saw the Melbourne Tote House on the left hand side, which was near straight across the road from the Main Tote House main entrance door. The Melbourne House was one of three wooden tote houses, along with the Sydney and Sub Houses, in this area that looked like colonial era structures. The Sydney House was next door and on the Southern side of the Melbourne House. When our maintenance area and offices in the Main Tote House, were required for the new function room, we moved into two tote houses, the Melbourne and Sydney Houses putting an end to betting there. The Sydney House had spent years as the high value punters room. At that time I was the Queensland Tote Manager for Tabcorp. Following the entrance road further, it swings ninety degrees left heading west. On the right hand side is the Public Stand and travelling further to the passageway between the Public and Members stands, on the left hand side you could see the third of these wooden, colonial looking totes, the Sub House. This tote house existed for most of my tenure at the racetrack however it was demolished to make way for a new parade ring shortly before I retired. At this time, we moved again, leaving the Melbourne and Sydney Tote Houses to establish new offices at Doomben Racecourse on the other side of Nudgee Road.

Our premises at Doomben racecourse, were in what used to be the the Sub House at that track, when the Main Tote building stood on the Eastern side of the Public Stand. This stand is a four story building including the private boxes at the top, which was built during my time at this track. The Main Tote House at Doomben, which was a long, two storey building which stood near the current main entrance to the members car park and occupied the ground north from the entrance to near the barrier of the track. I saw this building demolished along with the Julius Tote which was still on the first floor. It was events like this that led me to the realisation that this history could be lost forever. After this building was demolished, what used to be the Sub House became the Main Tote House, requiring major removal and re-installation work from us.

The first computer tote for Eagle Farm started operations in 1979 and was installed on ground seen in this photograph. This computer tote replaced the second electromechanical Julius tote which is now part of the museum in this building. This first computer tote consisted of two mobile PDP11 minicomputer based tote systems contained in semi trailers which serviced five race clubs. I worked on their development in Sydney and then moved to Queensland with them. A cement slab with a large roof on top was a carport for the semi-trailer. The location of this carport was in front of the part of this building which can be seen at a distance, between the left hand end of the ground floor room and the far left pillar supporting the upper floor. The data, television, internal telephone and power lines connected the track to the systems in the the semi via a large connector panel in the part of this building just mentioned. There is a photograph of this part of the building with the computer trailer parked in this carport in the first photograph in the ATL The Brisbane Project chapter of this website, accessible by clicking on the image to return to the Photo Gallery, scrolling to the bottom of the page and selecting the Go to the index option in the navigation bar and finally selecting the required chapter in the index. Additionally there is an image of the right hand side of this building in 2011 in the 3 More ATL systems in Asia/ Links to other pages chapter under the heading Links to related sites next to the text beginning The second automatic totalizator in Australia....

The tote that replaced the PDP11 based system was also manufactured by Automatic Totalisators Limited and was based on VAX11 Minicomputer systems, a product called Atlas. This was a central site system, made possible by the improved quality of data communications over telephone lines, resulting in the viability of running a real-time system from a remote computer centre. The Operations Centre and Computer Room, housing the Atlas transaction processors, front end processors and communications equipment as well as ancillary equipment is in the distant part of this Main Tote House as previously mentioned. This system operated local meetings at Eagle farm as well as remote meetings at our other client tracks at Doomben, Albion Park, The Gabba and Bundamba.

After AWA took over Automatic Totalisators Limited, the Atlas system was relinquished to a display role, along with our provision of TIM91 terminals to operate as a Direct Link Tote to Unitab. The computer room in this building continued to provide television displays for Eagle Farm and all the other client tracks. The Eagle Farm bet traffic interfaced with Unitab via the computer room communications equipment in this building and the bet traffic from other client tracks interfaced directly with Unitab through their local communications equipment. Finally this system was replaced by one called OCTS (Open Computer Totalizator System), provided by TAB Limited which was based on Microcomputers. As Microcomputers were relatively inexpensive, it was possible to have a totalizator system on each of the tracks we serviced. When I retired in 2013, this system was still in operation. That concludes the technologies that this building has seen up to 2013.

I visited Eagle Farm racecourse in 2013, after I retired, to explain the workings of the Julius Tote in the Eagle Farm Racing Museum to two Japanese Engineers writing a book on totalizator history. At that time the Melbourne House was no longer in its original position and had been moved east, across the road to a lawn and garden area on the southern end of the Main Tote House which is the far end of this building in the image.

I returned to the track again in 2014, involved in the Institution of Engineers Australia Heritage Award submission. The process leading up to the awarding of an IEAust International Marker for the Julius Tote is well documented in the George Julius Genealogy and other latterday interest chapter of this website under the heading 2015 A Dream Come True.

Regarding the origin of the old names like Sydney House and Melbourne House mentioned above, these totes in antiquity, were dedicated to selling tickets on these venues. I never found anyone who knew the origin of the name Sub House however I suspect it identifies a second centre of major betting activity on the race track. Each of the tracks we serviced had one. Possibly, as the second centre of major betting activity often had a bank which was subordinate to the main bank it is possible the SUB in the Sub House refers to the subordinate bank. During my time in the computer totalisator era, we had multiple subordinate banks with a cash control system to track cash flow throughout the totalisator, which was part of the totalisator system software. The tote cash management had a hierarchical structure from the cash delivery and collection company, the bank hierarchy to the TIM operators and customers.