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

The start of Mechanical Computing on an industrial scale

This is an image of part of the world's first automatic totalisator at Ellereslie in 1913. This system is purely mechanical with driving weights on the left of the image, aggregating equipment in the middle and runner total counter wheels on the right. The spiked circular wheels that look like a star knife or bicycle sprocket are escapement wheels. Escapement mechanisms are attached to shafts below these escapement wheels and allow the associated escapement wheel to rotate one cog at a time when activated by a tickets being sold. The escapement mechanisms are activated by the selling beer handle levers in the selling booths. Epicyclic gears total the rotation of every escapement wheel on each of the shafts. These epicyclic gears can only be seen as shiny points in between the escapement wheels of the nearest horizontal shaft they are mounted on.
Click here to go Back
Click on the image to go back to the Photo Gallery

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!


This website has so much technical information on the electromechanical and computer based totalisator systems I am not going to undertake a study of how the purely mechanical Julius totes functioned. Instead I will write something for the non technical readers which the technocrats will probably find frivolous. It relates to the person visible on the far right hand side of the image to the right of the bright window and apparently standing on the floor.

I have been going through Tony Shellshear's family trove and found some high resolution photos of the 1913 Ellerslie Julius Tote and the above photo was amongst them. The figure of a person looks like a man wearing a Bota hat staring at the machinery. In the high resolution image I can zoom in on this figure with good clarity and get a good look at him. Having mentioned him, on zooming in it is not clear whether it is a man or a woman. The figure is not wearing a Bota hat. It looks transparent with the corrugations in the iron visible through the figure. The head is too big for the body. It appears the legs are embedded in the floor and the figure is only visible down to the knees. Only the left arm is visible and the position of this along with the rest of the torso resembles the stance of a man urinating in this case against the far wall with the window. The large head seems to have two faces. A profile that is looking at the machinery and another which seems to be facing the camera 180 degrees opposed to the torso facing the wall.

In June 2015 I was communicating with Warwick Halcrow, an ex Automatic Totlisators Limited Systems Programmer and I mentioned this figure to him. He responded with the following information: I blew up the Tote image and it could have been an over or double exposure as I did that with my early Kodaks ( Box Brownie and 110 ). I think it looks like an Edwardian woman in a Wedding Cake hat rather than a Bota. I have seen images of early 20th century Melbourne Cups and this sort of head-wear was the female compliment to the Gentlemans Bota in the Members and Mounting Rings. Or maybe it is the Ghost of Ellerslie Past?

I replied to Warwick that I firmly believe that we should make every effort to find natural explanations for such things as these, otherwise we will not be able to determine what is supernatural. My thought is that if it is a double exposure, why do other regions of the figure image not interfere with wider areas of the image of the machinery. This would be the case if the exposure with the figure had a completely black background however this does not explain the deformed person if that is what it is.

In the same interaction with Warwick, he informed me of a ghost he had seen during our trip to Norfolk Island in a Piper Cheyenne: I remember on the return leg, you declared an emergency and we landed at KSA Mascot. Also, I saw a ghost, an apparition of a young girl sitting on a cliff and it didn't surprise me that the trip was full of inexplicable events. The problem with the Cheyenne was an irony in itself. It is the the most expensive aircraft I have flown and the only one involving the declaration of an emergency. On selecting gear down, only the nose and right main gear gave gear down and locked indications. The absence of a green light for the left main and the failure of the procedures to gain a down and locked indication led to the emergency. The landing was uneventful and the airport fire service could stand down and rest easy. In reply to Warwick, I related the following experience of mine however before I relate it I must introduce the significance of Mundaring.

In 2011, Narelle and I with our elder son Paul, visited the Mundaring Weir Hotel in Perth. This is close to Lake O'Connor and the number one pump station of C.Y.O'Connor's famous golden pipeline which took water to the Gold fields at Kalgoorlie and Koolgardie. This was at the time thought to be an impossible engineering feat however C.Y.O proved them wrong. What does this have to do with totalisator history I perceive you asking. Its all in the family! C.Y.O'Connor was George Julius' father in law. For those who have not been reading the rest of the website, George Julius invented the world's first automatic totalisator here in Australia in 1913 and founded the Australian company Automatic Totalisators Limited which was a world monopoly in its early years.

And now my response to Warwick with added explanatory content for you: In December 2012 Narelle, Paul and I had lunch with Narelle's cousin Harry, at the Mundaring Hotel in Perth. This was not far from Mundaring Weir. Apart from a couple of staff we were the only ones in the pub so far as I could tell. I went to the lavatory and went down a long corridor leading to a large room at the opposite end of the pub. As I entered the room I glanced around and noted that it was empty and then immediately turned right to enter another corridor to the toilet. I had to my perception just entered the final corridor to the toilets, when I was surprised to see someone flash in front of me. He squeezed into such a small crack at such speed that I could not believe he did not push me. One second there was no one in sight, the next he filled my field of vision. He rapidly strode away from me and whilst he was in front of me, I noted that he looked like he was in some period costume. White shorts, long white socks, some sort of T shirt and a Bota hat. He seemed like he would be well at home on a punt floating down a lazy English river singing Cruising Down the River On a Sunday Afternoon. He ended up way ahead of me because he sure was in a hurry. When I got to the lavatory he was already standing at the urinal. I stood next to him but did not look at him as you don't do that in a urinal, you keep to yourself! When he finished I could see in the corner of my eye he reached up to the ceiling and pulled what I took to be a chord that activates the flusher and the toilet flushed as he pulled it down. When I finished, he was gone and I reached up to activate the flushing mechanism, as he had done, but there was nothing there. This now had my full attention. I searched high and low around that toilet to find a urinal flush activator but there was none. At this point I was quite baffled. I was positive he had activated it. I went out of the toilet into the large room where the corridor to the toilet started. I was determined to find him and have a look at him. The room was empty. I was sure I would find a fancy dress party. I searched every room on the ground floor and looked outside at the grounds, all around the pub, but not only was there no party, there was no one else at all. I went back to our table and as we were enjoying ourselves and had remained so long, our party accounted for all the customers on the ground floor. I sat down but I kept trying to rationalise what had happened. I asked Paul to accompany me back to the lavatory and I related the events and asked if he could find the urinal activator. He could not, despite having taken the challenge to find it seriously. I have thought about this event many times since and it dawned on me about two years later, one day out of the blue, you have seen a ghost. The glimpses I had of the person did not conjure up an image of a ghost, it looked quite real and I did not feel ill at ease in his company, my immediate reaction had been a feeling that he had been rude squeezing in front of me!

I found Warwick's reply to this rather interesting and something I had not thought of. Thank-you for the "Ghostly Update". With your close connection to George Julius's memory and his eccentric in-laws, I would be interested if a photograph existed of C.Y. O'Connor in his clothes during an inspection of the Golden Pipeline Pump Station no. 1 at Mundaring Weir. I wouldn't be surprised at all, if he was the apparition that you saw at the local pub. The spiritualists say that troubled spirits ( he committed suicide ) often seek out those favourable or friendly to them in the material world to share some message or whatever. Both our experiences occurred in broad daylight and the apparitions appeared as normal people, however they were wearing clothing relevant to their period in life.

As a final comment on this subject, I have a friend who worked on the Randwick Tote who told me in 2010 that he had seen a ghost in the Julius tote house which had been purpose built for the 1917 Julius tote. At the time of his encounter, this tote house was for staff and authorized customers only. It was late at night and he was on his own. The interloper was a person he did not recognise who walked down to a below ground storage room. There was only one way in or out and there was no one down there. I suspect the underground storage room probably was the purpose built diesel generator room for the old Julius tote which had been converted to a store room. The counterpart to this room in the Old Main Tote House building at Eagle Farm racecourse is inaccessible and is below a new wooden floor of the now opulent function area. There was some talk prior to the new wooden floor being laid of putting a glass covering over the Diesel generator pit with two generator sets in it to turn it into a feature however that did not eventuate and it is hidden underneath the floor as is the old counting room of the old Marble Tote in that building.