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 in 1917 to develop, manufacture and export these systems. This is a small part of a mechanical computer long before the invention of electronic computers. It is an Electromechanical Shaft Adder which was part of a demonstration system.

Early large system adder - part of a Mechanical Computer

This is an image of an early large system adder. I deduce that it is early, as, although it is clear that it has electrical elements, it still has a foothold in the purely mechanical era, as parts of it are driven by weights. The electrical elements are not on display in this image as they are at the rear of the adder, however twisted pair wires can be seen dangling from underneath the adder in the lower part of the image. The adding shafts are at the rear of this adder, at the far end of each of the five tubular sections extending from the rear to the front, which are devices called Storage Screws. The escapement mechanisms in the adding shafts are activated by solenoids which receive electrical impulses from the ticket issuing machines, delivered by the twisted pair wires seen dangling under this adder. The storage screws are a mechanical form of memory. As the Julius totes became electromechanical in 1917 and as this adder is electromechanical it was not constructed prior to that year. The earliest of the large Julius totes and the first electromechanical one was for the AJC (Australian Jockey Club) at Randwick in 1917, which was a stand-out system supporting 150 TIMs (Ticket Issuing Machines).

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There are no photographer's markings on this print


I have an original company document titled Straight Betting. In this document, on page four I found three low resolution images of adders, one on top and two below. The top image shows the exact same adder as the one in the image above. This image has the caption Horse Unit of largest type machine. The bottom left image has the caption Horse Unit of medium size machine. and the bottom right image has the caption Horse Unit of small type machine. The name Horse Unit refers to the adder. The note on the left hand side of the "largest type machine" image in Straight Betting reads:

A machine of the large type would only be installed on courses doing an extra large business. The unit (No. 1) would not be seen by the public, but sets of indicators, in appearance like the medium size unit, would be erected at various positions.

These indicators would be controlled by the main machine and would display at any moment the actual state of the betting.

The note on the right hand side of the "largest type machine" image in Straight Betting reads:
The horse unit of the largest type has recorded accurately over 250,000 bets per minute (see page 11). The medium size records at the rate of 3000 bets per minute, and the small machine at the rate of 1000 per minute.
The image at the top of this page thus shows the "horse unit" (or adder) of the largest type. Horse Unit was a name applied to adders which were totalling investments on individual runners in a race and distinguished these adders from adders which were totalling pool grand totals. Page 11 goes into technical details of the working of the Adder, however one sentence states:
A machine has been manufactured and shown in Sydney that records bets up to 250,000 per minute.
I immediately recognised this statement which definitively identifies the adder shown above as being part of a demonstration to the Institution of Engineers Australia in 1920. George Julius, the inventor of the world's first automatic totalisator and founder of Automatic Totalisators limited, wrote a white paper about a totalisator system that had been built and tested in Sydney in 1920 which was capable of supporting 1000 terminals and a sell rate of 250,000 transactions per minute. George presented this paper titled Mechanical Aids to Calculation to the Institution of Engineers Australia on Thursday May 13th 1920. The adder in the image above was part of the demonstration system which was part of this presentation. The content from that paper, relating to this totalisator system is presented on this website in the Mechanical Aids to Calculation chapter. It is interesting to note that George Julius was an instrumental founder of the Institution of Engineers Australia and a President of that Institution.

In George's paper he makes two references to the Randwick system, which as it is written in 1920 refers to the 1917 installation. Firstly George relates that expanding the Randwick system to greater demands would be very costly to maintain and install. Secondly George relates that the adding gear with this new system is greatly reduced, as four or six escapements can now do the same as forty escapements in the Randwick machine. In other words, it was contemplations of systems larger than the 1917 Randwick system that led to the development of Time Division Multiplexers (TDMs) allowing multiple TIMs to be attached to each of the escapement solenoids. The impact of this is evidenced by the fact that although the adder shown at the top of this page is capable of supporting many more terminals than the 1917 Randwick adders, it has less than half the escapements in the adding shafts of the 1917 Randwick adders. I now realise that the TDMs which are an essential element of the later electromechanical Julius Totes date back to at least 1920, earlier than I expected. George and employees of Automatic Totalisators Limited did not call these multiplexers TDMs they were known as distributors and later scanners. The reason for this is that it had to wait for the electronics era for the name TDM to become common.

George's comments I mentioned above appeared in his white paper titled Mechanical Aids To Calculation and extracts of his two comments follow, so you can read it in his words:

In considering the application of the equipment to meet very much greater demands, it was apparent that the very large amount of gearing required under what may be called the Randwick system would be very costly both to install and to maintain. A modification of the system has therefore been developed, and may be briefly described as follows :-

In practice each issuing machine should be run at such a speed as will allow of the printing and issuing of tickets at the rate of 100 per minute, this being the maximum speed required. It has been found, however, that the electro-magnetic escapements can be installed to accurately pick up and record impulses at more than ten times this speed. The latest machines have therefore been constructed with one electro-magnetic escapement and epicyclic gear for each eight or ten ticket issuers. In this arrangement, however, allowance has to be made for the fact that the ten-ticket issuers may all issue tickets simultaneously on the same horse. Each issuing machine therefore is equipped with a device which stores up the impulse as soon as the machine starts to print a ticket, and this stored-up impulse is picked up by a distributor and passed on to the electro-magnet at a, speed that is slightly greater than the maximum speed of the issuing machines. Thus, if the ten issuing machines simultaneously start to issue a ticket on the same horse, during the issue of these tickets, the distributor picks up the ten impulses and delivers them in sequence to the electro-magnetic escapements. In such a case the electro-magnetic escapement would make ten beats in the time occupied by a selling machine in printing and issuing one ticket.

This modification has very greatly reduced the amount of adding gear required in the machine, as in the new type four, or at most six, escapements perform the same duty as was previously performed by the forty escapements in the Randwick type of machine.

George has mentioned the issuing machines above and their connection to the adders. The issuing machines became known as TIMs or Ticket Issuing Machines. The company document titled Straight Betting makes reference to the connection of the issuing machines that are installed in selling windows, to the adders in the central tote processing system of that era. It reads:
Such selling windows may also be located anywhere, as required. They can be placed in the building which contains the Totalisator, or may be a mile, or ten miles away. The only limitation to the location of issuers at a distance from the Totalisator itself is the question of minimising the amount of electrical wire required. The normal voltage used in all these machines is 110 volts, direct current, and the wire used to connect the selling machines with the Totalisator is 1/18, 600 Megohm grade insulated wire.
Finally, George's paper refers to a unit built to meet the condition of betting on the largest French racecourses which refers to a system utlilising the above type of adder.
This becomes of great importance in considering large equipments. A unit has recently been built to meet the conditions of betting on the largest French racecourses. On such courses it is necessary to allow for the installation of at least 600 selling machines, and the counters may be required to record the issue of a million tickets in half an hour.
After seeing the adder above from the opposite end, it became obvious to me that this adder could be the basis for the Longchamps adders which were later developed for this French project which was installed in 1928. The constituent 5 shaft adder assemblies and their associated storage screws visible on top of this adder above, look very like the ones in the lower section of the Longchamps adders, although it is clear that this adder pre-dates the Longchamps adders which are considerably larger.

The complete Julius tote system is large, requiring a sizeable machine room, as it consisted of many of these adders along with other equipment and each of these large adders has a table arrangement to support it as seen in the above image. The machine room can be thought of in modern parlance as a mechanical computer room. On the subject of the machine room, the image below of the Longchamps machine room titled Similar to Figure 16 gives an idea of the amount of equipment, particularly when looking at the runner number posts on top of each adder disappearing into the distance, keeping in mind there are more adders behind the photographer.

I find this adder particularly interesting as it is so ornate particularly the legs of the table framework that supports it. Having discovered this adder was part of a demonstration system this explains why it looks so ornate. I have often felt that engineering and technology products have an artistic element to them. They often are visually attractive imparting to them an artistic quality. It is an additional bonus to think that these attractive artworks were technology devices performing a function. In the case of much of this Julius Tote equipment when looking at these artistic pieces, it is additionally interesting to contemplate that they had been functional for so long, decades and in some instances almost half a century and in one known case, the Caracas system, the full half a century. To my mind a lot of Engineering Drawing has an artistic quality as well.

The five tubular shaped devices on the top of the adder extending from the rear to the front are called storage screws, a mechanical form of memory. The function they perform qualifies them as, what in the computer era is called, buffer memory. They remember transactions recorded by the high acceleration adding shafts at the rear of the adder and transfer them to the inertia limited parts of the system at the front as they are able to catch up. The electronic counterpart to the mechanical device, consisting of the storage screw and the feedback path resulting from sensing of the position of the screw itself when in the vicinity of its rest position, so that the inertia limited parts can be slowed down and brought to a gentle stop, is a closed loop servo system. The rods extending from the centre of the near side of the tubular bodies of the storage screws are part of the screw position sensing. The storage screws are dealt with in more detail in other images in the photo gallery.

Following is an extract from a company document titled The PREMIER (JULIUS) AUTOMATIC TOTALISATOR, which is the ninth extract, immediately following the extract in the image page which appears in the second page of the photo gallery under the heading Ticket Issuing Machines (TIMs), with associated text starting The type of TIM in use at Randwick Racecourse in 1927. It relates to the Julius Tote Shaft Adders, called Adding Machines or Adding Units in this extract.

Adding Machines

The adding units total all the bets made, almost as quickly as tickets are issued by the ticket issuers, the maximum time that may elapse between the instant of printing a ticket and registering its sale being less than two seconds, even during very heavy betting periods. THESE UNITS ARE CAPABLE THEREFORE, OF RECORDING, PRACTICALLY INSTANTANEOUSLY, ALL THE TICKETS SOLD BY ALL THE ISSUERS, EVEN SHOULD SUCH ISSUERS ALL ISSUE A TICKET ON THE SAME HORSE IN A RACE AT THE SAME INSTANT. One "adding unit" is provided in any totalisator installation to total the investments on each horse, so that there are as many adding units at work as there are starters in the race. In addition, a further, and usually a somewhat larger, unit is installed which automatically totals the whole of the investments on the race--that is to say, its record is the sum of all the records on the various horse adding units.

In small installations, as before mentioned, the adding unit and the indicator are as a rule combined, particularly where independent auxiliary indicators are not required, but on large installations the adding unit is entirely distinct from the indicator and may be installed in any suitable machine room, far removed from the indicators, should such be found desirable. In Fig. 15 a view is given of the largest individual adding unit of the Premier type yet built, and this unit, which is installed in Longchamps Racecourse, Paris, is of very much greater capacity than any other unit in use, whether of the "Premier" or of any other type, and in Fig. 16 a view of a group of such adding units is shown.

Figure 15 An image of a large shaft adder at Longchamps Racecourse

The above image is the same as Fig. 15 in the company document which has the associated text: "Premier" Totalisator Adding Unit installed at Longchamps. Paris. Note that the adder in the image above is much more modern than the one shown at the top of the page. This adder has no driving weights. This is a reduced image with the full sized version in the photo gallery, several images below the entry for the image at the top of this page.

Similar to Figure 16 An image of the Longchamps Machine Room

The above image is similar to Fig. 16 in the company document, the main difference being that the one in the document has no people in it. The document has the following associated text: Group of "Premier" Adding Units at Longcamps. Paris. This is a reduced image with the full sized version in the photo gallery also several images below the entry for the image at the top of this page. Click on the image at the top of this page to go to the photo gallery directory. This is a good image showing the mechanical computer referred to in the title of this page. You can see the shaft adders extending into the distance and there will be adders behind the photographer as the nearest runner adder number visible is 29 and the system supported 42 runners. This is an interesting historic point in that all the totalisators I worked on, mainly in Australia, which were all computer based had a maximum field size of 24. As the functionality was implemented in software, this limit was a configurable variable set at build time, but the systems I worked on were built with this set to 24. Back to the extract:

Where units of this capacity are used, independent indicators are required to display to the public the progress of the betting, and Automatic Totalisators Limited can supply indicators of various types as more fully described on Pages 16 and 17. In smaller installations a combined adding and indicating unit is used, and this type has been installed on many Racecourses.

Such a unit is shown in Fig. 17, the machine being so arranged that the numbers displayed on the front of the equipment are made visible to the public through suitable windows in the totalisator building. A group of such units, is installed on the West India Turf Club's Course, in Bombay, is shown in Fig. 18.

Similar to Figure 17 An image of a combined adder and counter display

This image is very similar to the one in the company document and as Fig. 18 in the document shows the West India Turf Club's Course, Bombay system utilising these units, it is appropriate that the unit in the above image also belongs to that system. The annotation in the company document for this unit is: Combined "Premier" Adding and Indicating Unit for displaying numbers of Tickets sold as installed on various Racecourses. This too is a reduced image with the full sized version in the photo gallery a few images below the entry for the image at the top of this page. Back to the extract:

A simpler type of "Premier" equipment has recently been perfected, particularly suitable for smaller racecourses, and in these machines results are displayed by means either of dials and moving pointers or by a "barometer" type of Indicator, either of which system will inform the public quite sufficiently closely regarding the progress of the betting, whilst at the same time an exact count of the number of bets on each horse is recorded on a small counter on the unit itself, from which dividends can be calculated. Such a unit is shown in Figs. 19 and 20, and Fig. 19 shows in particular the lightness and compactness of this equipment, which is capable of recording all sales made on as many as 48 selling machines.

All Premier adding units are equipped with safety devices, which prevent errors in the recording of the betting should any unexpected failure of the mechanism occur, either mechanical or electrical. Such protective devices operate in such a way as immediately to stop the betting on any ticket selling machine where the record of such betting is not being correctly transmitted to and recorded by the adding unit. WITH THE PREMIER EQUIPMENT, THEREFORE, NO TICKETS CAN BE ISSUED WITHOUT ACCURATE AND PROMPT RECORDING BY THE ADDING MACHINE.

As previously described, Premier equipment is now available, and is, in fact, in use by means of which the result of the betting can be displayed to the public in terms of the "expected dividend" or "odds" on the horse, in place of the more usual and older method of recording only the "number" of tickets sold.

The next extract from this company document, which immediately follows on from this extract is below the entry for the image at the top of this page in the photo gallery under the heading Miscellaneous Images. To read it, click on the image at the top of this page, scroll down in the photo gallery index to the previously mentioned heading and select the image thumbnail with associated text starting The world's first Odds Computer....