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.

An early Automatic Totalisators Workshop at the Newtown factory

This Automatic Totalisators image is thought to be at the factory at Alice Street Newtown in Sydney. There are parts of drum indicators on the bench. There is a workshop behind the bench with the belts driving the machines visible, rising to pulleys on a drive shaft running across the roof truss area. The gentleman in the Homburg hat seems to be listening to someone describing a drum wheel. He has an arrow pointing to him with three difficult to read words near the tail of the arrow. I am fairly sure the first two words read "Curtis of" however the third word is quite illusive and looks like Camera however there are many other possibilities like Canada Canoba Canola Camala Camela or Camola. In any case, this man was worthy of note even if we don't get the message! More after the image...
Click here to go Back
Click on the image to go back to the Photo Gallery

The photographers stamp on the photograph reads Hall & Co 44 Hunter Street Sydney

It is probably a red herring but it is interesting to note that Glenn Curtiss, a famous American aviation pioneer was instrumental in developing Hialeah which appears earlier in this photo gallery under the heading Hialeah racetrack in Miami 1932. I have come across a lot more probable identity for this person. It is a result of wading through the wealth of Julius family documentation that Tony Shellshear, George Julius' great grandson gave me. It is titled BUILDING THE BRIDGE Twelve Lithographs with supplement in colour by ROBERT EMERSON CURTIS. Robert worked as an illustrator and cartoonist in Brisbane. His interest in the industrial expansion in Chicago took him to the United states. He was interested in the links between man and machines which would definitely have attracted him to Automatic Totalisators limited if he was aware of the mechanical computing of the totalisator systems. When he returned to Australia in 1928 he recorded the construction of the Sydney Harbour Bridge resulting in the Building The Bridge document. In 1940 Robert depicted activities in Commonwealth munition factories, which almost definitely would have included Automatic Totalisators Limited, as they manufactured munitions during WW2. He worked as a Camouflage Officer attached to the RAAF in Cairns and New Guinea and I wonder if the word that I cannot decipher written on this photo is some permutation of camouflage. If so I suspect these words were written on the photograph well after the photo was taken. Robert became an official war artist and was interested in technological achievements which makes the work of Automatic Totalisators Limited, in the field of mechanical computing an irresistible subject if he knew of them. He later became interested in the Sydney Opera House and as Julius Poole and Gibson were the prime Electrical Contractors, it is improbable that he would not have known of Automatic Totalisators Limited. For a person who developed a lifelong interest in industrial modernism, it is difficult to imagine that he would not have found a company, in the country that he spent the major part of his life, that was manufacturing large-scale, real-time, Multi-user systems long before the digital computers that made these concepts commonplace.

Following is a comment from Neville Mitchell, a long serving Automatic Totalisators manager regarding this image: The Larger Drum Adder looks familiar, I think it is the same as the 1936 version I re-installed at the Royal Bangkok Sports Club track in 1969. These were the one's with the mercury digit transfer forked switches. we have mentioned before. The larger drum adder Neville refers to is the device in the middle of the bench consisting of four display drums. The first two digits are showing 98 the following digit is half way between 6 and 7 and the final digit is between 2 and 3. This device sums the total investment on a particular runner. The forked mercury switches Neville refers to, are discussed in the third image in the Longchamps Paris 1928 section of the photo gallery. To view this, click on the image, scroll to the bottom of the page, select the previous page button in the navigation bar and scroll down to the Longchamps Paris 1928 section and click on the third thumbnail showing the large shaft adder and read the paragraph starting with Neville Mitchell, the best historian of this company...