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 by George Julius in 1917 to develop, manufacture and export these systems.

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The Earliest Automatic Totalisators Factory Staff Photo

This is the oldest Staff photograph I have and know of. It is almost certain that this is the factory at Newtown Sydney located at 146-158 Alice Street. I have in my possession a letter of commendation for my wife's Auntie's father, written by the Works Manager of Automatic Totalisators Pty. Ltd. on the 9th May 1921 and in this letter there is the Alice Street Newtown address. The surname of the Works Manager on this document is Setright although the initials are difficult to discern as it is a signature. I have read in a Trove archive copy of The Illawarra Mercury newspaper dated 11th March 1921, in an article with the title PICNIC - Metalliferous Employees Experience Wet Weather -, that Mr. H. R. Setright, who was one of the dignitaries attending the event, was the Works Manager for Automatic Totalisators Limited. He also worked on ticket issuing machine design with George Julius. Henry Roy Setright could be in this image!

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As this is where Automatic Totalisators Limited started, let us recapitulate some early company history extracted from a company document:

Automatic Totalisators Ltd., a public Company was formed in 1917 to manufacture, install and operate Totalizators throughout the world. By 1970 with few exceptions, every major racing centre in the world used these Australian Totalizators, which were in service in 29 countries. The Automatic Totalizator was invented by the late Mr. George Julius (later Sir George). In 1913 he installed his first totalizator on Ellerslie Racecourse in N.Z. and the second at Gloucester Park in Western Australia in 1916. 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.

In 1917, after the Company was formed further research led to the introduction of electrical power and the miles of flexible wire cable were replaced by simple electrical conductors which operated solenoids both in the Ticket Issuing Machine and the Indicator/Adders. This was a major development because now the Ticket Issuing Machines no longer had to be close to the Indicators.

By 1920 equipment was installed on a total of seven racetracks in Sydney, Brisbane and Newcastle in Australia, and Auckland in New Zealand. The equipment was very bulky , employing the principle of one Ticket Issuing Machine to one Escapement Wheel, which limited the number of Ticket Issuing Machines to the number of Escapement Wheels it was possible to build into the combined Adder Drum Indicator Unit. Invariably these installations were confined to one building and no attempt was made to connect buildings by underground cable. The Indicators provided for one Pool only, but the fields were large. For example, at Randwick, the equipment provided for 42 starters. At this stage all the equipment was manufactured at Mr. Julius' home in Darling Point, Sydney, or in a backyard garage nearby.

Until the early 1920s the equipment was made for one Pool only and when you went on a racetrack you bet on the "Tote". The net Pool was divided up into three parts giving the winner 60 % and each of the 2nd and 3rd horses 20 %. At this stage there was a separate tote in each enclosure, not connected in any way with each other, so that, where three enclosures existed, as at Randwick, three different sets of dividends were declared.

In 1922 the old single "Tote" was superseded when Win & Place pools were created and the same year the first Totalizator equipment for Win & Place betting was installed in Perth, Western Australia. From then on, with few exceptions, all racecourses installed Win & Place equipment. The Ticket Issuing Machines were divided so that some sold Win and others sold Place. The method of calculating the dividend for the Place pool was such that the total money invested on the placed horses was taken out of the net pool and the remainder was divided by the number of dividends to be declared and this figure was divided by the units bet on each placed horse. During the next ten years the Company installed equipment on 27 racecourses in India, Ceylon, Malaysia, Singapore, France, New Zealand and Canada. The biggest order during this period was equipment for Longchamp, Paris, in 1926, and this was the largest order undertaken by the Company until the order for Caracas, Venezuela in 1957, over 30 years later.

Prior to 1927, only pool figures were displayed to the public but, in 1927, Mr. Julius came to light with automatic odds, which was probably the biggest milestone in the Company's existence. Models of this type of equipment were taken to London and North and South America. In 1930, Automatic Odds Equipment was installed at Harringay Dog Track in London, and the following year Automatic Odds Barometer Indicators were installed at Flemington, Caulfield, Moonee Valley and at Williamstown Racecourses in Victoria, Australia.

Well that sets the scene regarding company history and the state of the totalisator industry covering the period of this factory. Now lets travel forward a century from the founding of the company in 1917 to the present 2017 when much of this web-page is being developed.

In December 2015, Narelle and I visited the State Library of New South Wales and looked at their comprehensive set of Sydney Telephone Books on Microfiche spanning 1889 to 1950. This revealed that Automatic Totalisators Limited had the factory at Newtown starting in 1919, with the last phone book entry for Newtown being in November 1933. The May 1934 Phone Book entry shows the factory at 182 Chalmers Street, with a depot in Central Street in the city and an office at Randwick Racecourse.

The phone book entries for Automatic Totalisators Limited start in 1917, the year the company was founded, with an address of 4 Bridge Street, with the same entry for 1918. The company Totalling Mechanisms Limited was in existence in 1914 and seems to be the forerunner of Automatic Totalisators Limited. I have read in a Trove archive article from The Sydney Morning Herald on Friday 4 November 1927, that Automatic Totalisators Ltd took over the obligations of Totalling Mechanisms Ltd in April 1917 and that Totalling Mechanisms Ltd was dissolved in 1919. Judging from the painted name on the side of this building, the name Automatic Totalisators is painted over some other name, probably the previous tenants, possibly Totalling Mechanisms Ltd.

Although the phone book entries for this factory only started in 1919, the factory existed prior to this, as a Trove newspaper archive article from The Sun newspaper dated 27 September 1917, titled RANDWICK TOTALISATOR with a subtitle Inspected by Mr. Fuller, states that all of the 1917 Julius Totalisator for Randwick Racecourse was made in this Alice Street Newtown factory. This article also states the system was electrically controlled, stop and start betting by the flick of a switch in the Stewards Room.

As indicated above the telephone number for Automatic Totalisators Limited at this factory started in 1919 yet the factory existed at least two years prior. Automatic Totalisators Limited, also mentioned above, had a phone number in the 1917 and 1918 phone books, for an office in Bridge Street. Consequently, I deduce that this factory operated without a telephone until 1919. There must have been some other form of communication between the Bridge St. office and the Newtown factory.

The 1917 Randwick system mentioned above, was the fourth of the Julius Tote installations, had 150 terminals and catered for a field size of 42. It was the first of the electromechanical Julius Totes and was in my opinion the world's first large scale, on line, real time, multi user system. It would not have been thought of as such at the time however, as it took decades for the advent of digital computers to make these concepts commonplace. This system must have created a significant bond between the AJC (Australian Jockey Club) and ATL (Automatic Totalisators Limited). The 1934 phone book mentioned previously indicated ATL had an office at Randwick racecourse, the year before the opening of the next generation Julius Tote at Randwick which would have been another major project.

The number of jackets and ties being worn in the image above is amazing by modern day standards. It is curious that they have not bothered to paint over the previous writing on the corrugated iron walls to create a clean slate on which to paint Automatic Totalisators. No doubt the higher priority jobs like the Randwick project were very pressing!

William Johnson, a long serving ex Automatic Totalisators Limited Manager and Engineer made some comments about the image above. His father, another William Johnson, also worked for Automatic Totalisators Limited. In 2014, William Johnson Jr. identified his father in a photograph taken outside the following Automatic Totalisators Limited factory after this one, which was in Chalmers street in the city. Now in 2016 he informed me that he has had suspicions that his father also appears in the image above. Initially he did not wish me to publish something he was not sure of, however I convinced him that his speculation was interesting. William is researching further to see if he can find more definitive information. William wrote the following:

The old foto in front of the Newtown factory is always interesting to me. I do not know when my father started work. It may have been at age 14 (born January, 1911) as he was thrown out of Cleveland Boys High School for hitting one of his teachers after the teacher had hit him! He was always ahead with his technical drawing which he always loved. He asked his teachers for more work at times and was always told wait until the other boys catch up.

The young boy sitting in the front row with the tie may be my father? Next to him may be Joe Norris? But I am sure Joe started after my father. Bill's parents were very strict in their ways and may have sent him to work well dressed as an apprentice! Funny thing as I recall my first day at totes I was overdressed in my good clothes.

I too recall being dressed up for my introduction to this company. This relates to my previous observation regarding the number of jackets and ties being worn in the above image. To see the image where William Johnson Jr. positively identified his father, click on the image above and scroll down and select the following staff image thumbnail with associated text starting Some staff outside the Chalmers Street Factory...

William Johnson Jr. mentions in the quote above that his father attended Cleveland Boys High School, which I take to be Cleveland Street Public School. I find it ironic that when the Automatic Totalisators Limited factory moved from Newtown into the city centre at Chalmers Street, William Johnson Sr. was working across the road from where he went to school. According to Wikipedia, the school was founded in 1856 and is one of the oldest public schools in Australia still operating on its site. The Wikipedia reference is: Page name: Cleveland Street Intensive English High School Author: Wikipedia contributors Publisher: Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Date retrieved: 21 February 2017 23:55 UTC Permanent link: Page Version ID: 725399198.

I visited the location of the Newtown factory at 146-158 Alice Street in September 2014 and these street numbers are now occupied by a modern gated community of town houses with a street address of 146 Alice Street. I had no misgivings regarding the fact that there would be no trace of this old corrugated iron shed-like building in the 21st century, however I did think that the ornate stone building peering above the roof-line of this factory in the image above, may have stood some chance of surviving. I had a good look for any sign of a similar building but found no trace of it!

This factory is where the earliest manufacturing of Automatic Totalisators Limited took place. The Premier Ticket Issuer was one of the early items produced here, which is mentioned below. The early electromechanical totalisator central processing systems were also manufactured here. We have already had an example of this as the complete 1917 Randwick Julius Tote was manufactured here. Additionally there is an example of later central processing system manufacture being performed in this factory in the next image. It shows the Adders, which are part of the central processing system, for the Longchamps totalisator in France being assembled. I presume the purely mechanical Julius Totalisators which pre-date the company Automatic Totalisators Limited were probably produced by Totalling Mechanisms Limited. As mentioned in the company document extract above, regarding the earliest Julius Tote manufacturing, at this stage all the equipment was manufactured at Mr. Julius' home in Darling Point, Sydney, or in a backyard garage nearby.

Regarding manufacturing being performed at home or in a backyard garage, this principle already had a prior precedent. I have long been communicating with Tim Vickridge in Western Australia. His family home in Fremantle where he grew up, had belonged to George Julius and his wife Eva before they moved to Sydney. Tim's mother had told him that her mother had told her that Lady Julius had said that George would tinker for hours out in the backyard working on a contraption with belts and pulleys. Tim is aware of C.Y. O'Connor, the father of George's wife Eva and a famous Australian Engineer, as C.Y. O'Connor supposedly lived in the house before his daughter and George Julius bought it.

One last observation relating to this early automatic totlaisator manufacturing, is that the second quote below from Rudolph Wilkinson, indicates that the Premier Ticket Issuers were eventually worked on in a workshop in Willmont Street Sydney after the work being performed in George's home at Darling Point. Other than Rudolph's mention of it, I have never heard or read anything else about this workshop and consequently have nothing more to add.

The earliest prominent manager of Automatic Totalisators Limited was Frederick Augustus Wilkinson and his tenure covered the period of this factory at Alice Street and the following one in Chalmers street in the Sydney CBD. He had a strong background in engineering and started out as a design engineer. 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. He worked closely with George and travelled widely for the company.

The following comments were written by Rudolph F. Wilkinson, son of Frederick Augustus Wilkinson.

About 1916, the tote was installed at Randwick Racecourse and what a runaway success. FW was Course Manager until he retired about 1952 except when he was overseas at India, Java, Canada, France, UK, and South Africa on sales promotions with George Julius.

Mr. George Julius, the inventor of the machine, and the manager, Mr. Fred Wilkinson, attended a meeting of Members of Parliament in the House of Commons and also spoke to the House.

The auto tote was installed in racecourses in France, notably Longchamp. FW lived in Paris for 4 1/2 years during which time he married Dorothy Watt.

Rudolph mentions Frederick Wilkinson being the Course Manager for Randwick. As the Automatic Totalisators Limited Totalisator Manager the Randwick totalisator was Frederick's responsibility. As mentioned above, Automatic Totalisators Limited had an office at Randwick Racecourse, where Frederick probably spent a lot of time. Frederick could be in the image at the top of this page.

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Below is a 1925 Referee newspaper article titled OFF TO INDIA which records Frederick's trip to Bombay with Automatic Totalisators Limited, extracted from the National Library of Australia's Trove newspaper archive on the Internet.

It is interesting to note that the Randwick system mentioned by Rudolph above, was the largest totalisator in the world in 1917 with 150 terminals. With the installation of the Julius Tote in Bombay with 126 terminals in 1925, as referred to in the following article, the Randwick system was still larger. When another fifty terminals were added the following year, the Bombay system became the largest totalisator in the world. Rudolph also mentions the Longchamps system above, a project which Frederick spent four and a half years working on in Paris. With 273 terminals the Longchamps system became the largest totalisator in the world, taking the title from the Bombay system.

Citation: 1925 'OFF TO INDIA.', Referee (Sydney, NSW : 1886 - 1939), 21 October, p. 3. , viewed 11 Feb 2017,


Mr. F. A. Wilkinson, manager of the Automatic Totalisator Ltd., leaves for India to-day. His trip is for the purpose of supervising the completion of the Totalisators which are being installed at Bombay.

It surprises me that the Automatic Tote's machines have not been adopted in France. Totalisator arrangements at Longchamps, where the Grand Prix is run, are very poor by comparison with those of Randwick.

It is interesting that the writer of the above article speculates that an Automatic Totalisators Limited system should be installed in France as that came to fruition in 1928. Rudolph Wilkinson has already indicated above that Frederick lived in Paris for 4 1/2 years working on that project.

Assembly of Julius Tote Adders for LongchampsAn image of the assembly of the Longchamps adders in the Newtown factory

Above is an image showing the assembly of the Julius tote adders for Longchamps being manufactured at the Alice Street Newtown factory shown in the image at the top of this page. A full sized version of the image above can be seen in the Photo Gallery of this website. To view this click on the image at the top of the page and select the thumbnail of the image above with associated text starting An image of the adder assembly section...

The following Trove archive, Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners' Advocate article, demonstrates the significance of the French contract for Australia, the largest Austral-French commercial transaction. The assembly work in the photo above is being done for Longchamps racecourse that is part of this project.

Citation: 1926 'TOTALISATOR FOR FRANCE.', Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners' Advocate (NSW : 1876 - 1954) , 22 March, p. 5, viewed 20 May, 2015,


Universal Automatic Totalisators, Limited, Sydney, has contracted to instal at Longchamps totalisator machines of the type used in Sydney.

At first they will be operated by Australians to allow of a French staff being trained. This, together with the contract signed by Mr. Bethell on behalf of the same company last month to instal totalisators at 16 French racecourses is the largest Austral-French commercial transaction yet effected.

The French order meant considerable design work, as now, for the first time, the Adders were to be divorced from the Indicators. The Adders had to have a capacity of a minimum of 273 Ticket Issuing Machines through a Distributor connected to one Escapement Wheel, over 35 Escapement Wheels where needed on each Adder. The Adder design was a feat of mechanical engineering, all values and transfers being mechanically linked. The Ticket Issuing Machine design also was a remarkable piece of engineering and saw the introduction of a machine to sell both Win & Place tickets from the one machine. This was a big step forward and proved to be one of the main features for many years to come. The equipment for Longchamp was manufactured in the factory at Alice Street, Newtown, N.S.W. except for the Ticket Issuing Machines, which were made in Paris under supervision.

Regarding the above comment the Ticket Issuing Machine design also was a remarkable piece of engineering, these TIMs can be seen being manufactured in the image below titled Assembly of Julius Tote TIMs.

Following is a 1950 Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners' Advocate article recording the appointment of Alf Boa as State Tote Manager of Automatic Totalisators Ltd, who is taking over from Frederick Wilkinson.

Citation: 1950 'Mr. A. A. Boa State Tote Manager', Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners' Advocate (NSW : 1876 - 1954) , 10 July, p. 8. , viewed 11 Feb 2017,

Mr. A. A. Boa
Tote Manager

By "Verax."

Mr. A. A. Boa, of Newcastle, has been appointed tote manager of Automatic Totalisators Ltd. in New South Wales.

He will succeed Mr. F. Wilkinson, who has been manager for 30 years. The appointment will take effect from December 1. Mr. Boa has been given the right to retain his accountancy practice as principal of the firm of Lamb and Boa. Before receiving the appointment he had arranged to leave for England on August 19. He did not intend to return till early in the New Year, but will be back in time to take up his position with Mr. Wilkinson for the December and January metropolitan race meetings.

While abroad, Mr. Boa will gain experience in tote management in the United Kingdom and on the main courses in France, where tote machines are operated by Automatic Totalisators Ltd.

See U.S. Machine

On the way he will fly from Panama to Randall Park (U.S.A.),where the company has installed a machine, which will be operated for the first time on July 19.

Mr. Boa was appointed manager of the new automatic tote at Broadmeadow by the company this year, but he succeeded Mr. Norman Lloyd in the management of the tote at Newcastle many years ago.

He has been "schooled" in tote management by his father, Mr. John Boa, superintendent of the totes at Newcastle Jockey Club's horse and greyhound meetings, since he was 16.

Mr. Boa sen. will assume the management of both totes with another son, Mr. W. D. Boa.

Mr. Boa was also once secretary of Boolaroo Jockey Club. succeeding Mr. J. Grisdale, jun.

In the above article Frederick Wilkinson is shown to have an impressive tenure of 30 years with Automatic Totalisators Limited. This means he would have seen the factory move from Newtown to the city in Chalmers street. As the above article was written in 1950, Frederick would also have seen the final move to the Meadowbank factory as well. Mr A. Boa went on to become the General Manager of Automatic Totalisators Limited taking over from Spencer Grace.

When Rod Richards, an ex Automatic Totalisators Limited engineer, read the above article about A. A. Boa, he made the following comment:

I noticed under the heading See U.S. Machine that Mr A.A.Boa will fly from Panama to RANDALL PARK which operated for the first time on July 19. This must have been 1950 as we worked on the Randall Park job in the factory as a matter of urgency, during the Xmas/New year period, to have the machine finished in time for the Randall Park Carnival racing period. From memory we worked a lot of overtime to get the job finished and I believe air freight was involved. I think Alan Lakeman and Jim Macintyre were just two of the Meadowbank engineers that worked on the installation at Randall Park.

Frederick Wilkinson's grandson, Murray Irwin contacted me many years ago regarding Frederick Wilkinson. At the time I had not heard of Frederick. Murray sent me the first page of an Australian patent submitted by George Julius and Frederick Wilkinson for a Ticket Issuing Machine. The emblem on the document reads Department of Patents - Patents Act 1903-1909 - Commonwealth of Australia. The number is 4055/17 and the application is dated 21st May 1917. It also indicates the complete specification was accepted on 21st August 1918 and the acceptance was advertised in September 1918. Rudolph Wilkinson wrote that these machines were called the Premier Ticket Issuer and that they were manufactured in the Automatic Totalisators Limited factory at Alice St. Newtown shown in the image at the top of this page.

Independently, Murray's brother Richard Irwin contacted me through this website in May 2013 as did Murray years earlier. I learned more about Frederick Wilkinson and Richard informed me of the American patent document referred to next. Before I move on, I have so many coincidences with totalisator history, that I have a section on this synchronicity on this website. Richard presented a coincidence in that he works in Gordon in Sydney which is where I used to live. Additionally when I lived in Gordon, prior to having any knowledge of totalisators let alone their history, I practically drove past the house where Frank Matthews grew up, almost every day for ten years. Frank was the last senior partner of George Julius' engineering consulting company Julius Poole and Gibson. Having mentioned Frank, the image at the top of this page is one of a large group of photographs he gave me which came from Julius Poole and Gibson.

Following is an image of the first page of eighteen, of a United States patent US1288910 (A) - 1918-12-24 courtesy of The United States Patent and Trademark Office. This patent is for the same machine in the Australian patent document mentioned above, which as Rudolph Wilkinson identified above was called the Premier Ticket Issuer. It shows George and Frederick had a close association early in the history of Automatic Totalisators Limited. This patent is dated 24 December 1918 and George's first totalisator which was purely mechanical commenced operation in 1913. I suspect that George and Frederick designed this ticket issuing machine together when the Julius Totalisators became electromechanical. Having mentioned electromechanical, there is an electrical component clearly visible in the patent drawing below shown in Fig.2. It is a solenoid, the tall cylindrical component shown in the lower left corner of the Premier Ticket Issuer.

A Patent for George Julius and Frederick Wilkinson a US patent US1288910 (A) sheet 1

Rudolph Wilkinson wrote the following:

Frederick Wilkinson was a salesman with the National Cash Register Company and suggested that he and George Julius could make a Ticket Issuer especially for the Automatic Totalisator. FW and GJ worked every weekend at GJ's home at Darling Point on this and invented the Premier Ticket Issuer.

Eventually, the workshop was in Willmont Street, Sydney at the back of the Liverpool Police Station, Liverpool Street, Sydney.

As it has been recorded in a company document that the Julius totalisators became electromechanical in 1917, I think the Premier Ticket Issuer in the patent page shown above is the first Automatic Totalisators Limited Ticket Issuing Machine (TIM) to incorporate electrical elements and hence is an example of the paradigm shift in totalisator design from purely mechanical to electromechanical. TIM is the more modern and generic term for what in the Patent Document is called the Premier Ticket Issuer.

The complete patent document mentioned above can be read in the Automatic Totalisators in America chapter of this website. To read this, select the Go to the index button in the Navigation Bar below and select the mentioned chapter in the index. Finally scroll down to the title A US Patent G.A.Julius & F.A.Wilkinson 1918.

Assembly of Julius Tote TIMsAn image of the assembly of Ticket Issuing Machines in the Newtown factory

On the subject of TIMs, above is an image showing the assembly section for Ticket Issuing Machines at the Alice Street Newtown Factory. Judging by certain characteristics of the machines being assembled I believe these are J5 Tims. Although the J5s were used for the Longchamps project mentioned above, the Longchamps J5s were manufactured under supervision in Paris. Either the machines in this image were a few machines for local testing of the Longchamps adders seen being assembled in the image above titled Assembly of Julius Tote Adders for Longchamps, or they are being assembled for another project. If they are testing TIMs being built, they would also be used for testing other parts of the Julius tote as well. If they were for Longchamps then this image and the one showing Adder Assembly for Longchamps were probably taken at the same time. I think the photo of the Longchamps adders being manufactured was probably taken in 1926 or 1927. If the image above, of the J5 TIMs being assembled was not taken at the same time, I surmise it was taken some time in the mid to late 1920s.

A full sized version of the image above can be seen in the Photo Gallery of this website. To view this click on the image at the top of the page and select the thumbnail of the above image with associated text starting An early workshop photograph....

Fancy Line

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The "Next page" button below presents the first of three pages showing images from Harold Park Trots in Sydney and include an article from David Hamilton, who was the N.S.W Operations Manager of Automatic Totalisators Limited and as such, Harold Park was part of his domain. Interestingly, David's job as N.S.W Operations Manager would be the more modern version of Frederick's Job, State Tote Manager.

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