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 by George Julius 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 installed at Ellereslie in 1913. This system is purely mechanical with some of the driving weights on the left of the image, aggregating equipment in the middle and runner total counter wheels on the right clearly visible. The spiked circular wheels that look like star knifes or bicycle sprockets, mounted on parallel shafts spanning the width of the frame repeatedly along its length, are escapement wheels. Escapement mechanisms are attached to shafts below these escapement wheel shafts and allow the associated escapement wheel to rotate one cog at a time when activated by levers in the selling stations as a result of tickets being sold. Transactions are represented by angular displacement of the adding shafts. The levers in the selling stations resemble beer tap handles. More after the image, and for the non technical reader the techno-babble is almost over and then on to something rather frivolous about this image...
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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!


Many adding shafts are visible on the top of this frame in the image above, spanning the width of the frame and extending to the far end of the frame near the distant wall with the window. The adding shafts consist of cogs, escapement mechanisms and epicyclic gears. Epicyclic gears that exist between the cogs on the adding shafts are cascaded, successively adding the rotation of any epicyclic gear's associated escapement wheel with that of its predecessor on each of the shafts. The planetary cogs of the epicyclic gears are difficult to see between the escapement wheels at this resolution. There are three layers of this equipment and some of the next layer equipment can be seen looking down into the machinery in the lower part of the image above to the right of centre. Each of the three layers of adders and counter wheel displays supports ten runners in a race giving a maximum of 30 runners. The top layer visible in the image above handled runners one to ten, the second layer of equipment similar to the first handled runners eleven to twenty and the third similar layer handled runners twenty one to thirty.

I learnt from Prof Bob Doran that the grand total adder is visible in the image above. It is divided into two shafts each totalling the investment on fifteen runners, half of the maximum number of runners. The total investment on these two shafts is summed again to acquire the grand total investment. Supported from above, over the left hand side of the frame, are six pairs of brackets holding shafts of equipment. The far two are in the distance and not so easy to see. The nearest pair of brackets support two shafts with seven cogs on each. Chains from this section travel into the distance, over supporting wheels mounted on two higher shafts between the next pair of brackets and finally proceed further into the distance, to the third and highest level brackets supporting one of the two grand total adding shafts. The mirror image of this equipment is then repeated in the more distant half of the machinery, starting with the second half of the grand total adder, followed by the distant chain supporting shafts and finally the difficult to see pair of shafts with seven cogs on each. Speculating about the two pairs of shafts with the seven cogs on each, it appears that the cogs on the lower shaft are geared to cogs on the upper shaft. If the gear ratio is stepping down then these gears would be removing the commission from the pool. As I have seen an image of the front view of the Ellerslie tote mainframe where the photo was taken in the same building as the image above, which shows the drum counter wheel displays with numbers on them, it was possible to determine that commission is not taken out of the pool Grand Total. Consequently the gear ratio of these gears is 1:1 and the sole purpose of these gears is to change direction of rotation.

On the far right of the image above, counter wheel drums are visible consisting of four digit wheels each. There are thirty of these counter wheel drums, ten per level and they show the investments on each runner in a race. The second row of counters can be seen below the first and further down in the machinery part of some of the counter wheels in the third row can be seen. These counter wheels jut up against slot like windows which allow them to be read by the public on the outside of the building housing the totalisator as seen in the indicator board shown in the high middle section of the tote house in the image below.

It is apparent that the photo shown in the image above was not taken in the Ellerslie tote house shown in the image below. In the image above it is inside a corrugated iron building and the Ellerslie tote house is made of wood. Additionally the drum counter wheel displays are not jutting up against the windows in the indicator in the Ellerslie tote house. There are other images of this totalisator mainframe inside this corrugated iron building where the system is obviously being assembled as it is not complete. Where this corrugated iron building is located I am not sure. It is definitely not in the Automatic Totalisators Limited factory as that company was only founded in 1917, four years after this system commenced operations. This work was carried out by the predecessor company of Automatic Totalisators Limited called Totalling Mechanisms Limited. I have read that early totalisator work carried out by Totalling Mechanisms Limited was in garages, however judging by the part of the roof that is visible at the top of the image above, it looks like the building that is housing the totalisator is quite substantial and is consequently not likely to be a garage. The final location of the above totalisator system is shown in the image below, which is an image of the Ellerslie tote house, from a photograph taken in 1916, three years after the above system was installed. The thirty slot like indicator windows that the counter wheels are jutting up against can be seen in the central part of the image below under the high section of roof. Above each of of the slot like windows is the runner number associated with the counter below.

The only information I have about a workshop that is not mentioned in any of the Automatic Totalisators Limited documentation comes from Rudolph Wilkinson who was writing about Frederick Wilkinson his father. The earliest prominent manager of Automatic Totalisators Limited was Frederick Augustus Wilkinson. George Julius and he designed an electromechanical ticket issuing machine together, to be used with Julius tote systems. Frederick worked for Automatic Totalisators Limited for three decades and became the State Tote Manager. Rudolph wrote that after work had been conducted at George Julius' home there was a workshop in Wilmont Street in Sydney at the back of the Liverpool Police Station. Whether this is where the photograph shown in the above image was taken I have no idea!

The Ellerslie tote house An image of the Ellerslie 1913 tote house

This website has so much technical information on the electromechanical and computer based totalisator systems that I am not going to provide any more information on the workings of this purely mechanical Julius tote of which there were only three. The other two purely mechanical Julius totes were installed at Gloucester Park in Perth and Eagle Farm in Brisbane. The fourth Julius totalisator, installed at Randwick in Sydney in 1917 was the first of the electromechanical Julius Totes. Additionally, I cannot hope to add anything to Prof Bob Doran's excellent technical description of this system, already on the Internet on the University of Auckland website under the heading Totalisators: First Automatic Totalisator. Instead of providing more technical information which has already been perfectly covered by Bob, I will write something somewhat mysterious 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 at the top of this page, to the right of the bright window, who seems to be standing. There is a link to Prof Bob Doran's description of the World's first automatic totalisator in the third link in the links page of this website. To read this, click on the image at the top of this page, scroll down to the bottom of the new page and select the Go to the index button in the Nav Bar at the bottom of the page and then select the 3 more ATL systems in Asia / Links to other pages chapter and scroll down and select the third link in the link index.

I have been going through Tony Shellshear's Julius family trove and found some high resolution images of the 1913 Ellerslie Julius Tote with the image at the top of this page amongst them. I have been aware of the figure of a person mentioned in this image for some time and always thought it looked like a man wearing a Boater Hat staring at the machinery. In Tony's high resolution version of this image I can zoom in on this figure with 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 Boater hat and looks transparent with the corrugations in the iron wall visible through it. 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 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 Boater 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 immediately 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 good look at him. The room was empty. I was sure I would find a fancy dress party somewhere. 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 Totalisator 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 when he went to usher the interloper out. 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. Although I have spent a significant part of my working life working on totalisator systems on deserted racetracks in the middle of the night, I have never seen anything supernatural on a race track. So ends this spectral deviation.

The 1917 Randwick Julius Tote mentioned above is covered in a section of the photo gallery of this website titled Randwick Racecourse Sydney New South Wales. To read this, click on the image at the top of this page then scroll down to the title just mentioned and select the thumbnails in that section. The first entry is an image of the 1917 tote house purpose built for the Julius tote as mentioned in the previous paragraph.