This page contains an image 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, a system that facilitates galloping trotting and greyhound race betting.

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The World's Biggest Tote 1933

Electro-Mechanical Computing on an industrial scale

The Adders and Switchboard for win place and forecast pools, White City London 1933. This is part of one of the first Large Scale Real Time Multi User Systems. In contemporary parlance this can be regarded as a view inside the Electro Mechanical Computer Room.

The Plaque in the centre of the control panel below the clock reads: JULIUS TOTALISATOR - INSTALLED BY - TOTALISATORS LTD - 3 THAMES HOUSE - QUEEN ST PLACE E.C.4. Totalisators Limited was a UK based associate company of Automatic Totalisators Limited and was formed in London to manufacture, install and operate totalizators in the United Kingdom, Europe and Africa. John Relle, the son of Vernon the ex chief engineer of Totalisators Limited, informed me the office was in Park Street Mayfair, London and moved to the address given in an Automatic Totalisators Ltd document as Prudential House, Croydon, Surrey England in the late 1960s. More after the image...


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A 1937 Referee newspaper article, refers to the White City Julius Tote as The World's Biggest Tote. This can be read in the next image page of the Photo Gallery.

Information from John Relle

John Relle also wrote the following about his father's work at Totalisators Limited:

My Father was Chief Engineer and Dick Chiltern was Managing Director, before him it was a man called Whatley, I cannot remember his first name. Father spent some time in Australia I think in the 1950s

He installed totes in Longchamp Paris France, Cleveland Ohio USA, Rio de Janeiro Brazil, Ashanti Gold Coast ( now Ghana) Solvalla Stockholm Sweden, Cork Ireland. Also some in England.

He also designed and installed one of the indicator boards at the old Wembley Stadium. I know they did a lot of work for the GRA in the UK. I think the company was bought by Ladbrooks(sic) in the years before my father retired.

Memories of Vernon Relle from William Johnson

On reading the above information on Vernon Relle, in May 2015, William Johnson wrote his recollections of Vernon. William worked for Automatic Totalisators Ltd. as an Engineer and Manager and spent most of his time overseas. Interestingly, his father, also William Johnson, also worked for Automatic Totalisators Ltd. Williams's recollection:

In 1951 on the way to the United States to join our father for two years, Vernon placed my sister, my two brothers and myself in turn, on his shoulders to watch the changing of the guard in London. He, or he and his family, were in their house during the war when a V1 or V2 German rocket bomb dropped through the roof of his (3 story?) residence. Fortunately it did not explode. I cannot remember if he ever visited Australia. He was a typical English gentleman. Our parents entertained many engineers who visited ATL. My father loved taking them to our grandfather's house at Kilcare on the Central Coast. It was a wonderful bushy place to visit for overseas guests and most had to "suffer" a three mile hike up and down coastal hills to his favourite fishing spot on the rocks at "Kangaroo, just a hop and jump" near the "Maitland" shipwreck.

William added the following in a later communication:
Vernon was very kind to us during out ten days in London waiting for a ship to continue our family's trip for two years to the USA. Our father was already working and being in charge of the American installations. He was not prepared to be away from the family for two years so ATL moved us to Boulder City, Nevada, etc.

We were there mostly with a six month visit to Cleveland, Ohio for work at Randall Park and a few weeks work in Jackson, Michigan. Then back to Boulder City for about six months then home.

Our father flew down to Brazil for a while during our stay in the USA. I remember seeing Keith Dodwell, Alan Lakeman, Malcolm Le Barr?, George Clemmer, Edward Both and several other Australians but I cannot remember their names at this moment. (Webmaster's note: Edward Both invented Visitel, a product ATL manufactured, which could transmit someone's writing from a transmitter unit to a receiver, by mechanically following the pen movements. When I worked in Queensland on the introduction of the computer totes that replaced the Julius totes there were Visitel machines on each of the tracks I worked on.)

Information on the image above

In the foreground are two table mounted Forecast pool adders one for the runner combination 2-5 and the other 2-4. These tables continue in a long line to the left and right of the image. There are rows of adders behind the photographer. Five adding shafts are visible across the tops of the tables. These contain solenoids that receive impulses from the ticket issuing machines, which cause escapement mechanisms to activate allowing the rotation of the adding shafts. The angular displacement of the adding shafts represents the value of bets. The rotation resulting from each escapement activation on an adding shaft is summed by the epicyclic gear train. The long tubular shafts at the far end of each of the five adding shafts, are called storage screws. These are a mechanical type of memory used as buffers between the relatively high acceleration adding shafts and the inertia limited parts of the adder. The scanners shown in the last two images in the White City section of the Photo Gallery, and are mentioned below, multiplex eight Ticket Issuing Machines onto each of the solenoids in the adding shafts.

The Control Panel shown in this image is about three times the size of what is visible. There are pillars visible at the left and right hand ends of the image and the control panel extends behind these pillars to the left and right. To the right of the left pillar, on the control panel there are three columns of isolation switches, one for each of the eight machines attached to a scanner, visible near the top. These isolate ticket issuing machines from the scanner, used in the event of a ticket issuing machine fault. Below these switches are six banks of overlap relays which maintain the betting circuit voltage for the duration of the transaction cycle, after the scanner has selected a particular TIM (Ticket Issuing Machine). Below each double column of overlap relays, are columns of two scanners each. These scanners, mentioned above the image, are circular devices, which are electromechanical TDMs (Time Division Multiplexers) which existed long before the digital signalling methods that made this concept of Time Division Multiplexing commonplace. They consist of an arm that sweeps past a ring of eight studs which each has a TIM attached to them. The arm applies a voltage to each stud as it passes them which can be considered as generating an enabling pulse. The equipment just described to the right of the left pillar can also be seen on the left of the right hand pillar except instead of 3 columns of this equipment there are only two visible. This equipment is repeated to the left of the left hand pillar and to the right of the right hand pillar to the ends of the control panel. All this equipment just described can be thought of as the front end system of the Julius Tote. A complete view of the Control Panel and the Front End system equipment can be seen in the image after the next of the Photo Gallery.


Fancy Line


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