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.

Original Ellerslie Julius Tote Wiring

This is an image of some of the wiring of a Julius Tote. The back of the photograph is labelled Early Purely Mechanical Tote. Its number is M1 which is part of a group of photos M1-M6. Four of these photos have an Auckland Photographers stamp indicating they are of Ellerslie, the world's first automatic totalisator. This photograph could well be Ellerslie as well and I have seen other sources claim this as belonging to Ellerslie. Note the cogs and shafts on the trays of equipment on the left hand side. This is the aggregating machinery. The aggregating equipment has escapement wheels that look like bicycle sprockets which are activated by escapement mechanisms. This wiring connects the escapement mechanisms to the the beer tap levers, used for runner selection in the selling stations. On the far right lower part of this image, above the small section of shelf visible, are two hinges belonging to two of the beer tap runner selection handles in one of the selling booths.

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


The installation at Ellerslie was the first automatic totalizator in the world and although it looked like a giant tangle of piano wires, pulleys and cast iron boxes and many racing officials predicted that it would not work, it was a great success.

These early automatic totalizators were completely mechanical and consisted of Ticket Issuing Machines coupled to Drum Indicator Adder Units, all housed in the one building for one pool only. Miles of flexible wire cables connected the Ticket Issuing Machines to the Indicator/Adder Units. A considerable length of bicycle chain ran over sprockets and heavy cast iron weights were used for drive power. The wire in this image is part of the miles of flexible wire cables connecting the Ticket Issuing Machines to the Indicator/Adder Units mentioned.

I have been interested in Henry Setright's time as Works Manager of the ATL (Automatic Totalisators Limited) factory at Alice Street Newtown in Sydney and his relationship with George Julius. I knew that Henry was involved in Ticket Issuing Machine (TIM) design. I thought he had designed a TIM that operated with the Julius Totalisator. Ian Waugh, an ex Automatic Totalisators Limited engineer in New Zealand informed me that a Setright TIM was used in New Zealand however he designed it after he left Automatic Totalisators Limited and moved to the UK where he became famous for his bus and tram ticket machines. As the following information provided by Ian relates to New Zealand, it seems to be appropriate to present it here as this page relates to the first automatic totalisator and Ellerslie in New Zealand and Ian's information provides some later history of the totalisator there. I will point out that the first Ellerslie Julius tote did not have separate self contained TIMs. As described above the selling stations on this system were an integral part of the mainframe system and there are two of the beer tap runner selection handle hinges in one of the selling booths visible in the image above. Following is Ian's clarification regarding the Setright TIMs in New Zealand:

Hello Brian, You seem to have an incorrect understanding of the Setright TIM and where it fitted into NZ Totalisator operations. So the following is as I understand it.

A company called Taranaki Electric Totalisators was registered in 1954 to operate at New Plymouth, Stratford, Hawera and Waverley race courses. The machinery used was STC and I understand that it was first operated at Waverley and was claimed to be the "First Portable Totalisator in the world". I recall seeing a framed ticket on the wall of the Secretary's office at Waverley claimed to be the first ticket sold from the equipment.

When it was decided to upgrade the STC tote a Hawera engineer Mr Noel Laird was engaged to locate and oversee the purchase of a suitable replacement. I'm not aware when this happened but it seems that the J8 / totemobile electromechanical ATL systems must have been available at that time. Mr Laird appears to have searched further afield and ended up with what I call a real bitsa of a Totalisator. Could only be called 'Portable' because it COULD be moved - definitely not 'simply moved'. It had a relay based control system similar in type to the English Bell Punch machine. I can't recall the detail of the aggregators, but I think they were based on Telephone type uniselectors.

The control equipment was housed in three large cabinets , one containing the control relays, switches, diagnostic lamps etc and the other two the 25 aggregators for both Win and Place. The 3 cabinets were mounted each on a 4 wheel chassis which were rolled out to a gantry at each track, lifted with a chain block and tackle and lowered onto a flat bed truck for moving to the next track.

Power supply was a 2 or 3 phase 50v rectifier floating across a large bank of batteries, all on a single axle trailer.

The TIMs were the Setright units which we've been talking of - Large, Heavy, Noisy and seemingly old fashioned compared with the ATL J8s. These Setright TIMs did not operate with ATL equipment.

None of this equipment including the TIMs had any identification names or marks. It seemed to us that much of it had been purchased second hand and that the control circuitry had been modified to cater for 24 starters (possibly from English Greyhound operations).

When ATL took over the Taranaki circuit in 1963 we mothballed the old equipment and converted the tracks to J8 / Totemobile operations. That's when I started with ATL.

After 2 or 3 years and an increasing number of "Clash" racemeetings when we needed to temporarily obtain equipment from out of our area, we decided to try using the old TET equipment. ATL engineers in Sydney examined sample units of the equipment which we sent over and drew related circuit diagrams for us - none had been provided by TET - and from then on we operated that equipment at Hawera with an ATL Counter Tote and J8s for Doubles betting.

As Ian mentions Bell Punch, it is interesting to note that in 1964 Automatic Totalisators Limited took over Bell Punch New Zealand Ltd purchasing all their equipment in the field, taking over the operation of all their installations and this company was later known as New Zealand Totalisators Limited.

Additionally, Ian mentions the weight of another company's equipment. ATL has been criticised from within, for sometimes having a rather obtuse view on what is portable long before Occupational Health and Safety was in vogue. Graeme Twycross, an ATL engineer in Melbourne wrote the following about ATL equipment being regularly moved in Melbourne with examples of the moves involving double shifts:

The other ongoing joke amongst the new starters was everything was portable, everything had to move from racetrack to racetrack, therefore nearly everything had handles on it, it did not matter how much it weighed. I can still vividly remember doing double header race meetings between Flemington or Moonee Valley or Caulfield and the showgrounds or worst still from Sandown to the Showgrounds, where we had to pack up all sorts of gear after the races, throw it into the back of an old Austin truck that looked a lot like a horse float with a flip down ramp at the back and drive to the other track and set it up before the first race, trying to throw down some food and drink at the same time. A Saturday double header delivered something like 21.5 hours after starting work at 8:30am and working through to 12:30-1am Sunday morning, mind you, you were stuffed on Sunday.
When Ian and I were contemplating a possible get together on Australia's side of the ditch and I suggested Roger and Sandy Penwarden may be able to join us, Ian wrote:
I must say it would be good to meet with you and with Roger and Sandy again. Roger was involved with commissioning of the PDP8 computer tote which ATL sold to Portable Electric Totalisators who operated in the Hawkes Bay and Wairarapa areas. Thats when I learned how some programmers operate - Dick Sterndale Smith seemed to work all night, and in fact did so to sort out a problem on the eve of first operation Hastings.