|"We need to be aware of our engineering heroes ..." - Professor Trevor Cole - Sydney University|
|"One can hardly believe that such a man could go almost unnoticed and unrecognised" Professor Martyn Webb UWA|
An Electro Mechanical Shaft Adder circa 1926
|Introduction||Automatic Totalisators Limited - later ATL|
|Sir George Julius||Installations / Testimonials - The Premier Totalisator|
|The shaft adder in the image||The Premier Automatic Totalisator Operation 1930|
|Mechanical Aids to Calculation||The Julius Premier Totemobile|
|ATL The Brisbane Project||Memories of a system long gone (computer)||Computer Tote Maintenance (technical)|
|Introduction to secondly||Tote Topics|
|Memories of the factory||Memories of the factory continued|
|Automatic Totalisators in America||Photo Gallery + Synchronicity|
|Photo Gallery continued|
|The end of an era - Harringay||Pool definitions from ATL diary|
|The Melbourne Cup||Video clips of a working Julius tote|
|Caracas, a latterday Julius tote installation||Kota Kinabalu a computer tote installation|
|Eagle Farm Racecourse Museum||George Julius Genealogy and other latterday interest||3 more ATL systems in Asia / Links to other pages|
|Doron Swade writes in his New Scientist magazine article dated 29 October 1987 titled A sure bet for understanding computers with reference to the London Science Museum The Julius totalisator with its automatic odds machine is the earliest on-line, real-time, data processing and computation system that the curators at the Science Museum have identified so far.|
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|Listen to the Fanfare|
|Copyright © 1997 - 2013|
|See the Accolades|
|An appeal for more information|
|A note about this web site|
A part of the precept for this site was that it cost nothing. No web creation or html editing tools were used except for a short trial of early freeware html editing tools to see what was being missed. The html has been manually written using a text editor or simple word processor. I have made no attempt to change the look of this site to make it conform with the 21st century. It is deliberately left looking like a mid 1990s web site when the WWW was just blossoming in a sea of anonymous FTP servers. I think it is appropriate that it represents the past as this is after all a history site.
First released 25 March 1997|
In this transient cyberspace, this web site has been at this same address for over 14 years
January 2008 - Addition to the Computer Tote Maintenance chapter including an example of a PDP11 machine code diagnostic program and extracts from the Brisbane Fault logs of the PDP11 era and TIM91 TIMs
January 2008 - Addition of Phil MacGyver Slocombe article in the 3 more ATL systems in Asia / Links to other pages chapter
June 2008 - Improvements to Computer Tote Maintenance chapter
June 2008 - Addition to synchronicity in Ex ATL meets Ex JP&G/Synchronicity/Photo Gallery chapter
July 2008 - 2 additional anecdotes "emergency stop sell" and "Priest RDC operator" and an additional final paragraph to Memories of a system long gone chapter
July 2008 - Addition of "An Anecdote from Jim Loveday" to the Sir George Julius chapter
October 2008 - Additions resulting from a holiday in London and Paris. Chapter modified is 3 more systems in Asia/Links to other pages
December 2008 - Addition of 2 AJC notices relating to the operation of the new Julius Tote installed at Randwick in 1917, in The shaft adder in the image chapter
December 2008 - Addition to the Sir George Julius chapter of The Standards Association of Australia and The Institution of Engineers Australia paragraphs and an image of Culwulla Chambers
December 2008 - Addition of an image of the 2008 ATL reunion dinner in Sydney and a couple of emails to the George Julius Genealogy and other latterday interest chapter
February 2009 - An email from Steve Bready re Telegram project poems appended to the Kota Kinabalu a computer tote installation chapter
March 2009 - Other technological change appended to The shaft adder in the image chapter
March 2009 - An email from George Julius' great grandson added to George Julius Genealogy and other latterday interest chapter
October 2009 - Addition of Britain Holiday and image of Norwich to George Julius Genealogy and other latterday interest chapter
November 2009 - Addition of link with image to London Science Museum and links to Max Burnet's pages to 3 more systems in Asia/Links to other pages chapter
November 2009 - Addition of links to Don McKenzie's memoirs of a quarter of a century with Automatic Totalisators and Julius Finance, named after George Julius and removal of dead links in 3 more systems in Asia/Links to other pages chapter
December 2009 - Addition of C.Y.O'Connor paragraph in the Sir George Julius chapter
December 2009 - Addition of Ipswich Turf Club Julius Tote opening day information from ex ATL Engineer Rod Richards in The shaft adder in the image chapter
December 2009 - Addition of paragraphs on Ian Bryce phone call, Rod Richards Julius Tote installation at Ipswich and Julius Finance a company named after George Julius in the Ex ATL meets Ex JP&G/Synchronicity/Photo Gallery chapter
January 2010 - Addition of paragraphs on William Johnson's recollections of Las Vegas and an Autotote Quarterly extract in the Automatic Totalisators in America chapter
January 2010 - Addition of George Julius' inspection of the installation at Flemington in 1931 to The Melbourne Cup Chapter
January 2010 - Major additions to The Julius Premier Totemobile Chapter
January 2010 - Addition of an image of Neville's "Giant Drum" assembly to the Video Clips of a Working Julius Tote Chapter
January 2010 - Addition of a paragraph on George's model Pacific Class Locomote to the Ex ATL meets Ex JP&G/Synchronicity/Photo Gallery chapter
January 2010 - Addition of links to a TIME magazine article by Prof Chris McConville and the Powerhouse Museum pages on George's model locomotive, the demo model for his tote and Ellerslie, in 3 more systems in Asia/Links to other pages chapter
January 2010 - Addition of anecdotes by Don McKenzie and Graeme Twycross to the The Melbourne Cup chapter
January 2010 - Addition to the Sir George Julius chapter of paragraphs Julius Poole & Gibson since 1988 by Max Sherrard and extracts from the Foreword by Prof Peter Johnson and Preface by Frank Matthews of the book From Tote to CAD
February 2010 - Addition of Merv Cathcart's anecdote, relating to the 1974 flood, to the Melbourne Cup chapter
February 2010 - Addition of examples of how this history seems to have connections to areas of interest pursued, to the Sir George Julius chapter at the end of the section titled more extracts From Tote To CAD
April 2010 - Addition to the The Melbourne cup chapter of Early Tote History by ken Crook relating information on the introduction of Julius totes in Melbourne in 1931
November 2010 - Addition to the George Julius Genealogy and other latterday interest chapter of Britain Holiday 2010 and Bob Moran's Interactive Julius Tote Displays
April 2011 - Addition to the George Julius Genealogy and other latterday interest chapter of A Trip to Perth March 2011
April 2011 - Implement higher resolution images in the Photo Gallery + Synchronicity and the Photo Gallery Continued chapters, as well as other images throughout the site
May 2011 - Addition of White City Switchboard and top view of a J1 ticket issuing machine images to the Photo Gallery Continued chapter
November 2011 - Addition of an email from Neil C relating to his experiences at Harringay to the The end of an era - Harringay chapter
January 2012 - Addition of a possible link between Henry Setright and the tote, to the Photo Gallery+Synchronicity chapter
January 2012 - Addition of an email from Tim Vickridge relating to George Julius' house in Fremantle, to the George Julius Genealogy and other latterday interest chapter
February 2013 - Addition of an image of C.Y.O'Connor's statue in Perth as well as Postscript 2 in the Sir George Julius chapter
This Web Site will have particular appeal to two groups of people.
Firstly, those who have an interest in history and in particular that of technology. Anyone who knows something about the history of computing knows of Charles Babbage. What is little known is that mechanical engineering gave the world a highly successful machine used around the world that could be thought of as mechanical or later electro-mechanical computing in the form of the totalisator. These were probably the world's first large scale real time multi user systems. One was tested in Sydney in 1920 capable of supporting 1000 terminals and a sell rate of 250,000 transactions per minute, good by standards 9 decades later! These were not a theoretical machine or science fiction in a magazine, they were manufactured, operated and developed over decades. Generally they had much longer lifespans than the computing systems of today. The system installed in Longchamps France in 1928 with 273 terminals operated for 45 years before being replaced by a computer system. The system installed in Caracas Venezuela was still operating in its 48th year. Working on the principle that a picture is worth a thousand words I suggest that readers in this category have a look at the Photo Gallery + Synchronicity and the Photo Gallery continued chapters by following the links in the index provided above. Although they were real systems they are visually impressive behemoths that looked like they originated from an imaginative science fiction magazine. If this generates an interest there is plenty of relevant historical content in this site to wade through. For those interested in the history of digital computers prior to the advent of the Microprocessor, there is a chapter relating to component level maintenance of PDP11 based totalisators which can be viewed by following the link Computer Tote Maintenance (technical) in the index above.
Secondly, those who have an interest in the horse racing, trotting and dog racing industries and the totalisators that they are so linked with. I find it curious that, for a nation that stops for a horse race, The Melbourne Cup, and for a nation where most of the citizens know what a TAB is, that Australians know so little of the rich history of the automatic totalisator . Sir George Julius, the founder of the Australian companies Julius Poole & Gibson Pty Ltd and Automatic Totalisators Ltd, invented the world's first automatic totalisator , which was installed at Ellerslie Racecourse in New Zealand in 1913. Automatic Totalisators grew to be a monopoly exporting totalisator systems throughout the world and was sold to another once great and large Australian technology company AWA (Amalgamated Wireless Australasia) in 1991. After the monopoly years it became part of an oligopoly. Finally with the advent of the digital computer, totalisators became just another application of computing and the business became openly competitive.
I worked on Automatic Totalisators' first sell pay computer totalizator system that was installed in Brisbane. This system superseded electromechanical totalizators which were descendants of the original invention. I was impressed by the craftsmanship and the ingenuity of these old systems, parts of which dated back to circa 1926. I saw one of these totalizator systems bulldozed and realised that this history could easily be lost. Along with peers I started to save shaft adders from the oldest totalizator at Ipswich. The shaft adders are analogous to part of the central processing unit in modern day terminology.
I found considerable interest in these shaft adders by Museums and Educational Institutions resulting in many donations. Professor Trevor Cole from Sydney University, accepting a shaft adder donation prior to the advent of the Internet, remarked that he had seen a model of Babbage's analytical engine and that the shaft adder reminded him of it. This consolidated my impression that these electro mechanical totalisator systems represented a technology that led to the invention of the computer. It is debatable whether these early electromechanical totalisators should be considered computers, due to technicalities such as the category of mechanical computing never having been established, however it is highly probable that they were the first large scale, real time, multi user systems, which are concepts that had to wait for the advent of the digital computer to become commonplace jargon. I noticed in a text relating to the Ellerslie Julius tote by Prof Bob Doran, that George Julius himself referred to a shaft adder as a computer. This of course predated our contemporary view of a computer which went through a transformation with the advent of the digital computer. Interestingly I heard a radio discussion where one of the participants indicated there was a time when some people were regarded as computers and you could get a job as a computer.
This page is a continued attempt to keep this history from fading away! I am unable to offer more eloquent words to express the motivation behind attempting to retain some of this history than those of Frank Matthews in the Preface to the book From Tote to Cad published by Julius Pool and Gibson:
"This book was written because memories grow dim and records tend to disappear. As Julius Poole & Gibson is the longest established Australian consulting engineering practice there seemed to be a duty to produce a historical record before it was too late."
I have included information on the Brisbane Project as one of the Company's later achievements. By 1978 the Company was struggling with applying its monopoly oriented culture to the new world of competition. The Brisbane Project existed in the shadow of a much larger project, Sha Tin in Hong Kong. When this failed, due to inability to deliver on time, the company's future depended on the Brisbane Project's success. Our brief became simple, "Brisbane must work". I consider myself privileged to have worked with the small group of selfless devotees who moulded another potential failure into success.
Having mentioned the failure of the Sha Tin project, I will add that at the time of the failure, an Automatic Totalisators'
computer tote system had been working at the Royal Hong Kong Jockey Club's Happy Valley track for a decade. This system was
PDP8 based and supported 550 individual selling points.
I recall my first experience with the "Nation stopping for a horse race" mentioned above. I came to Sydney in 1964 from Hong Kong to attend boarding school. School life was structured and disciplined and education was a serious matter. It was with some suspicion of being the object of a practical joke, that I listened to the other students telling me that in the afternoon the teacher would stop and we would be allowed to listen to the radio broadcast of the Melbourne cup. I was introduced to the concept of a sweep, which further contributed to my suspicions that this was a joke.
I was later informed that I had been allotted Polo Prince and that this had been the last horse drawn from the hat and that it had next to no chance of winning. At this point I felt disadvantaged by not being fully initiated in these Australian customs.
I was astonished when I found that what I had been told was correct. I started to listen to my first horse race and the next thing I knew "They were off". A person was talking in a quick constant manner. As the race continued, the pace increased along with the excitement level. The words "Polo Prince" appeared more and more and I thought that this is probably good. The excitement built to a crescendo, then the broadcast returned to normal.
It was later confirmed, Polo Prince had won.
Mark Twain was also impressed by this phenomenon having made the following comment after seeing the Melbourne Cup in 1895. Nowhere in the world have I encountered a festival of people that has such a magnificent appeal to the whole nation. The Cup astonishes me.
The first year that an Automatic Totalisators system operated at Flemington on the Melbourne Cup was 1931. Totalisator betting was illegal in Victoria prior to 1931.
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|Information has been extracted from Automatic Totalisators company magazines and documents.|
|Thanks to Max Anderson, Frank Matthews and Max Sherrard, for allowing me to quote from the book From Tote to Cad published by Julius Poole & Gibson.|
|Thanks to Peter Collier for bringing the New Scientist article mentioned above to my attention.|
|Thanks to Crames Studios--3D Animations and Graphics for the Australian flag|
|Thanks to my 11 year old son (1997) who was a great help with the typing, the html and the images.|
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