This is one of several pages relating to the history of the automatic tote, its invention in 1913, the inventor George Julius and the Australian company he founded in 1917 which became a monopoly in this field ( later part of an oligopoly ). This page contains several extracts from company magazines and brochures including Tote Topics which was the Automatic Totalisators Limited's quarterly magazine. If you wish to start from the beginning then go to the index
|Tote Topics and other ATL magazine extracts|
Tote Topics was the name of the company's quarterly magazine. Some extracts from these and other company magazines follow. They give some further insight into the history of the company's business activities.
|Autumn 1978 General Managers introduction in Tote Topics|
We are now generally known as a technology company, and this is indicative of the tremendous advances made in the racing industry over the last several years. Microprocessors and computers are now an integral part of the sport. The same technology we use on the racetrack can be applied to other areas of money handling or revenue control, such as automatic fare collection on railways, car parking fee control, etc. and these are the areas into which ATL is expanding, in both the U.S. and Australasia.
Other applications for our technology are being developed - for example we have currently manufactured and released the 4800 Visual Display Unit described in this issue. As a general purpose computer terminal, it has many features that are new and innovative. As well, our U.S. company is developing a non mechanical printing technique which will have wide application in on and off track betting terminals, and in other ticketing functions.
These and other developments will ensure that ATL continues to be a leader in technology, thus continuing the traditions established sixty years ago.
|Autumn 1977 Tote Topics - Greyhounds head for Guam|
Guam Greyhounds Inc. a company formed to start Greyhound racing in Guam made a spectacular airlift on Sunday January 16th 1977. The passengers on a chartered Cathay Pacific Boeing 707 were 300 dogs, five trainers and a noted Sydney greyhound breeder as general manager of the new project.
With them in the Cathay Pacific freighter went $A400,000 of computerised totalisator equipment supplied by Automatic Totalisators Limited which will handle the betting operations for the company.
Three of Automatic Totalisators technicians from Australia were already in Guam ready to receive and help install the new "tote" and train the operators.
General Manager Mr. Norm Smith is a breeding expert and was formerly President of the Greyhound Breeders and Owners Association in Sydney.
The immediate role of the dogs will be to race but they will also provide the basis for a future breeding stock. To give the dogs time to become accustomed gradually to the new environment the Boeing also carried food and powdered milk to keep them going for a month.
This is not the first export of Greyhounds from Australia overseas but it is the first time such a complete cargo has gone to its destination non-stop with cargo and passengers all ready to go.
|Summer 1978/1979 Tote Topics - Racing in Teheran|
Thoroughbred racing commenced in Teheran on 22nd June, 1978 at Farahabad Racecourse. Built in a natural bowl set on the desert fringe of the snow capped Alborz Mountains, about 15 kilometres from the centre of Teheran, the racecourse has a crowd capacity of 30,000 patrons, with a three-decked grandstand to accommodate 12,000.
The members' area is air-conditioned throughout and provision has been made for luxuriously furnished private boxes, including a huge private area for the Shah.
The 1,600 metre track has a river sand surface with well graded turns adequately accommodating fields to 14 starters.
A large number of Australians are involved in the forty million dollar venture.
A leading trainer in South Australia and Victoria, is racing consultant to the Company and A former Adelaide racing Journalist, is the Racing Manager. In addition, Veterinary Surgeons, Stipendiary Stewards, Trainers Jockeys and the Deputy tote Manager are Australians.
Staff, trainers and jockeys are housed in 72 apartments alongside the racecourse. There are stables for 500 horses and above the stables are grooms quarters for 300 stableboys.
250 thoroughbreds from Australia, New Zealand and England were air lifted in by charter flights for racing. This number will increase to 400 thoroughbreds and 100 Turkomans - a pony sized Middle East breed - within 18 months.
Evening racing has been conducted during the summer months. This will change to afternoons as the weather cools.
An ATL Mobile Totalisator is installed so that as other racetracks open it can be moved to service each new location. It is a computerised system using J17 TIMS.
Initially Win, Place and Quinella pools are operating and Doubles and Trifecta pools will be introduced as patrons become accustomed to the facilities.
The ATL Manager Australasian Operations was seconded to the new club for a period to train local people in the operation of the totalisator systems. 250 local people were trained in selling/paying, banking and overall totalisator operations in 10 weeks.
The picture taken by the Operations Manager gives an idea of how the new racecourse looked just before the opening meeting.
The ATL manager mentioned above Bruce Rutter, later became General Manager of ATL. He had a suitcase which he took on each of his numerous overseas business trips. After seeing some remnant luggage tags left on the handle he decided to leave them there in future as a gauge of the amount of travelling he was doing. Eventually the case boasted so many remnant destination tags it started to become difficult to carry. The case made a statement, "this case belongs to a very frequent traveller". He carried it with pride. He was horrified when a well meaning secretary cut them all off. Reduced to the status of ab-initio traveller. The amount of required travel was a problem that applied to many of the staff, spending large amounts of time away from home.
|Singapore (Extract from ATL booklet The Computer Tote 1974)|
The Singapore Turf Club and Automatic Totalisators Limited were associated with one another long before the computer tote was ever thought of. That association goes back as far as 1926, in the days of the T-model ford, when the club commissioned A.T.L to install its first Electro-mechanical Totalisator. As the popularity of racing in Singapore grew, so did the demands on the Club's totalisator operations and over the years additional equipment has been installed to keep its on-course betting service to the public continuously updated.
Last year, when the progressive Singapore Turf Club decided to go electronic and install a Totalisator System with a capacity to meet its rapidly growing turnover in betting it selected A.T.L's newest computer system.
The A.T.L Computer Totalisator System using two Digital Equipment Corporation PDP 11 Computers is flexible and capable of any required expansion to meet future growth.
The Singapore computer tote caters for standard betting pools, Win, Place and Forecast with a current capacity of 256 Ticket Issuing Machines.
The Computer Room in Singapore
|More of The Singapore Turf Club (Extracts from Tote Topics Winter 1978)|
The Singapore Turf Club was founded in 1842 as the Singapore Sporting Club. It initiated organised horse racing in South East Asia and it has remained vigorous in developing and organising the sport.
The first recorded race in the region was The Singapore Cup, valued at $S150, and won by W.H.M. Read - a great sporting figure for years - on The Colonel.
The Sporting Club became the Turf Club in 1924 and moved in 1933 to Bukit Timah. Today the club races on a course and with facilities matching the best in the world. Laid out in 350 acres of park like grounds, it has its own reservoirs - a great asset in Singapore a city that draws its main water supply from Malaysia.
There is stabling accommodation for over 650 horses and numerous training tracks and a horse swimming pool. The main racing track is 1968 metres in length. Races are run between distances of 1200 metres and 2400 metres. There is also a modern Equine Hospital with its own operating theatre, isolation stables and laboratory.
There are approximately 2,500 people dependent on racing living on the property. The Club houses its own labour force in a model village with shops, mosque and temple. Racing facilities include the most modern types of Totalisator Equipment. There is Photo Finish and Camera Patrol Equipment with closed-circuit colour television which provides a complete coverage of the races by television and cine-cameras. The grandstand affords excellent facilities to racegoers and has seating for more than 5,000 people. There are electric lifts and escalators serving all floors, some of which are partly air conditioned.
The A.T.L. Electronic Totalisator installation is geared to operate on race meetings in Singapore and also operates when race meetings are held in Malaya. The club also operates betting terminals at their office in Cecil Street from 9A.M. up to the last race. This office is many miles from the course. Win, Place and Forecast tickets are on sale at all Pay-in windows. ...
Following are some tickets purchased by Chris Robertson, an ex high value punter in Melbourne who has been to racetracks around the world. The first ticket from a J22 TIM and the bottom ticket from a J25, both machines that my department was expert at maintaining. The transactions associated with these tickets would have been processed by the system in the computer room image above only 13 years after that photo was taken. There is information on both the J22 and the J25 TIMs in the Photo Gallery Continued chapter of this website, accessible by scrolling down in the image icon table to the heading Ticket Issuing Machines and clicking on the image icon with the associated text starting A retired old workhorse for the J22 and An image of the J25 TIM for the J25.
Chris Robertson's tote tickets from Singapore
Chris wrote the following about these tickets:
And Chris wrote the following about the J22 and J25 terminals in Australia:
The first ticket is a lottery ticket sold by the Singapore Turf Club at a retail venue away from the racecourse. The letters 'B' and 'S' before the dollar amounts at the top of the ticket represent the words 'Big' and 'Small'.
The second ticket is from the old Bukit Timah racecourse in Singapore. Admission tickets to the racecourse were sold from an adapted Racecourse Totalisators machine. Racecourse Totalisators operated the tote at many provincial and country tracks in NSW until they were acquired by TAB Limited. The same machines were used by Gippsland Regional Totalisators in Victoria in the 1980's. Kranji has since replaced Bukit Timah as Singapore's racecourse.
Yes, as implied by Chris' first paragraph above, ATL produced Lottery systems during the computer era.
The J25 was capable of a greater variety of betting options than other Australian terminals. The system kept being reprogrammed to meet the demands of the high end punters. In the end there was no limit to the number of selections that could be included in a multiple trifecta. The development of one and two selection roving banker trifectas was a game changer. It was way ahead of the capability of Sydney's AWA system. But the J25 did have one serious weakness. The robust J22 tickets were read more quickly than the thinner J25 ones. There were also fewer retries or manual keying payouts required with the J22.
I recall a trip to Singapore to assist with a Totalisator demonstration to be conducted on Digital Equipment Corporation's premises. We organised a taxi on the day of the demonstration, the Research and Development Manager, Phil White sat in the front and the Marketing Manager John Pickering and myself sat in the back. The R&D manager delivered a greeting to the taxi driver followed by a suburb name. This was met by silence and an expressionless face. The taxi driver could not speak English and did not recognise the suburb. The R&D manager gave a street name with the same result. The company's frequent travellers generally prided themselves on their knowledge of these foreign ports and the R&D manager took on the challenge of conveying to the taxi driver our destination. He tried neighbouring suburbs and roads near the destination without any response. He remembered a large hospital across the road from our destination however after naming it, the driver's expressionless face and silence persisted. The R&D manager really thought he had solved the problem when he remembered the Ferrari dealer on the ground floor of the building we needed to get to. Surprisingly the name Ferrari did not solicit any recognition.
Finally after ten minutes of grappling with the problem, in desperation, the R&D manager turned to us and gasped "I don't think we are ever going to get to Digital". The taxi driver's head swung around, his eyes ablaze he exclaimed "Ah you want go Digital"! I don't think John or I had laughed so much in a very long time.
|Philippines (Extract from ATL booklet The Computer Tote 1974)|
Each Club has installed the PDP 11 Computer Totalisator System which is handling its present totalisator turnover speedily and reliably.
A new betting Pool was introduced with the installation of their computer totes. Betting requirements are 14 starters, Win, Place, Quinella and Doubles.
New Style J11 and J17/3 ticket issuing machines are used in conjunction with their existing J10 machines.
The computer systems at San Lazaro and Santa Ana have both been expanded since their initial installation.
Both clubs have a projected plan of growth which is ideally catered for by the modular expansion concept of the A.T.L. computer tote.
Both clubs are associates of A.T.L from as far back as 1937 when the company installed the first totalisator equipment in the Philippines. New equipment was installed at both Courses soon after the war ended, as popularity of racing widened, the equipment of the club has been continually updated to handle new pools and increased betting turnover.
With the installation of computer totes, the clubs have further expanded their facilities and are both in a unique position to meet the growing demands of the Philippines racing public.
Webmaster's note - May 1998, I have just returned from an installation in Manila, where I heard the following story from John Pickering.
Doug Nichol was an installation engineer sent to Manila by Automatic Totalisators to install electro mechanical totalisator systems at the Manila Jockey Club and the Philippine Racing Club prior to World War Two.Evidently the needs for a tote transcend the dictates of war! Nice to hear that Doug's efforts were both appreciated and rewarded by the jockey club.
During the Japanese occupation, he was released from internment during the week ends, so that he could operate the totalisator system.
He lived the rest of his life in the Philippines, never returning to live in Australia. He did visit the Johnson family in Sydney after WW2. He was virtually adopted by the Manila Jockey Club, which looked after him in his old age and treated him like a member of their family until he passed away.
On 26th December 2015, John Pickering wrote: I met Doug in Manila a few times and in fact, I went to his house during one visit for a baked leg of lamb dinner.
On 27th December 2015, Neville Mitchell wrote the following memory of Doug Nichol:
In Manilla I was shown the spare parts stores at one of the clubs, I was told that it had been set up by Doug Nichol many years before.In 2016, Rex Turner, who was the ATL Project Engineer for the Philippine Racing Club Manila project, as well as many other projects, wrote about each of the projects he had worked on. There are strings of unexpected events recorded in his documentation of these globe trotting projects. Following are three comments extracted from Rex's documentation of this project in Manila, which took place in 1972:
Every spare part was located in large drawers that had separators to isolate each part and make location very easy it also allowed for instant check on what had been used and needed replacing.
A unique method of cabling was adopted, a wire cage hanging from the ceiling was used to prevent rats from gnawing the plastic. Only time will tell if this way prevents the problem from recurring.General knowledge of electronics and in particular computers did not exist during this era. I had a similar situation in Brisbane, on a race-day when the minicomputer based totalisator system was in operation and reaching temperatures where component failures could be expected. This was due to a struggling air conditioning system and the ATL branch manager started repeatedly shouting hose it down! Rex's third comment follows:
A priest was coming to bless the Totalisator. The system was live with several of the cabinet drawers open. I was astounded, he was actually splashing holy water into the electronics. Nothing blew up!
The supply voltage in Manila is always fickle and failed on race day. I had placed the Standby Generator close to the Totalisator room. I was aware it would be noisy and had an exhaust enclosure fitted with egg cartons on the side walls to minimise the noise. I am unsure why there was considerable smoke being generated and it lay in a dormant cloud, indicative of oil in the diesel possibly. It needed further study. Nevertheless it was another successful day.
|Melbourne (Extract from ATL booklet The Computer Tote 1974)|
Melbourne, Australia's financial capital and home of its richest horse race, the Melbourne Cup, is the first city in the southern Hemisphere to have its racecourses, tracks and paceways served by a mobile computer totalisator system.
A.T.L has designed a comprehensive Mobile Computer Unit which handles the complete on-course betting operations of the seven turf, trotting and greyhound venues which serve the Melbourne metropolitan area. There are -
Eventually the modern and versatile mobile computer tote system will also serve surrounding provincial racing clubs. Like A.T.L's PDP 11 fixed totalisator installations, described herein on other pages, the mobile computer tote unit will be capable of meeting future growth requirements of the network of racing clubs it will serve.
The revolutionary new mobile and interchangeable electronic totalisator system for Melbourne comprises 2 Mobile Computer Units, each van being identical and containing 2 computers.
As well as providing increased benefits for existing Pools the new computer tote enables the introduction of automated Trio betting to Australian racetracks.
Trio is the selection of the first three horses in one race.
Each mobile unit is capable of providing betting accommodation for Win, Place, Quinella, Doubles and Trio for up to 24 starters.
Melbourne's new computer tote system involves the use of up to 192 J8 ticket issuing machines - 128 J10's and 64 new J18/3 ticket issuing machines for Trio betting and multi value betting on standard Pools.
A smaller version of the mobile computer tote unit has been successfully introduced to the Hawke Bay circuit in New Zealand.
|Mornington - Extract from Tote Topics Autumn 1978|
This club was formed in the late 1890's and race meetings were held at Beleura Hill which is the present site of the Mornington Golf Club. In 1913 the Club moved to its present site and an additional property was purchased in the late 1940's to add to the existing area.
Mornington is some 30-odd miles from Melbourne and is situated on the shores of Port Phillip Bay.
The army occupied the course in 1939 at the outbreak of World War 2 to use as a signals depot and handed it back to the club in 1946. 1n 1947 Sir Reginald Ansett K.B.E. (then Mr. R.M. Ansett) called a meeting at the Federal Hotel, Melbourne to reform the club and the first race meeting was held on 4th December, 1947. At this meeting Sir Reginald was appointed as Chairman of the Club, a position he still holds.
The Club now claims to have the best country Racecourse in Victoria and it is renowned for its beautiful lawns and gardens and shady trees that give a lovely picnic feeling which adds to the days outing.
The years feature race is the Mornington Cup run in February over 2,000 metres. It is a handicap event of $7,000 and $500 trophies. First horse receives $4,550 and trophies of $400, $50 and $50 to owner, trainer and jockey.
Mornington Racing Club introduced computer tote betting for the first time on a Country Racecourse including new pools of Trio and Trifecta betting ($1.00 minimum). Trio, Doubles and Quinella are sold at the red windows and Win and Place - Doubles and Quinellas at the green windows.
The Club has the largest membership (1150) of any country club in Victoria.
In 1973 a public grandstand was completed at a cost of $450,000. In March this year work will commence on improvements to the members grandstand and facilities at a cost of $550,000. In 1976 extensive improvements to training facilities were completed at a cost of $170,000 and there are now two grass and two sand tracks available for training for the 250 to 300 horses in work at the track.
In July 1976 A.T.L. electronic totalisator equipment was used for the first time and in December, 1977, an A.T.L. electronic indicator board was installed.
The highlight of a recent meeting held on the 18th January was the visit of the champion racehorse Reckless. At this meeting on-course totalisator holdings were $186,592 (local races) beating the previous record by $10,000, and $21,863. (Sydney races).
Since 1958 the Club has run steeplechases over the unique figure 8 course where the horses race across the centre of the course.
|Extracts from Sandown Park - Tote Topics Autumn 1978|
It is interesting to interview the only lady manager of a greyhound racing club in Australia and maybe world wide. Mrs Marg Scarlett has all the enthusiasm and energy to run and promote the sport.
A recent promotion that Marg Scarlett lined up was the Sir Arthur Rylah Saphire Classic Sandown Sweethearts competition.
The Club's Contest Conditions Were As Follows -
If you are young and in love and wish to become engaged to the girl of your dreams, then you are eligible to enter....
5 couples will be selected from letters received, to be our guests at Sandown Park for the semifinals of the Sir Arthur Rylah Sapphire Classic, on Thursday 2nd February 1978. One lucky couple will become the 'Sandown Sweethearts'
The Sir Arthur Rylah Spphire Classic is for puppies whelped between 1.1.76 and 30.6.76 and carries prizemoney totalling $12,000 plus a presentation rug and a lovely sapphire and diamond trophy - either a ring or a brooch.
ATL also installed automatic turnstiles at Sandown Park which were first used on Thursday 6th January, 1977 and have proved to be a great success now that patrons have become familiar with the token system.
General Information Sandown Greyhound Racing Club (Commonly known as Sandown Park)
They conduct 10 races every Thursday night.
Wagering to suit all with Trifecta, Quinella, Race to Race Doubles, last race Forecast.
Colour racing action is displayed throughout the course, featuring instant replays and direct colour telecast of all ten Adelaide greyhound races.
Country and Interstate - Sandown is the only track where you can bet on Shepparton, Warrnambool, Adelaide and Brisbane greyhounds every Thursday night.
The tote averages $170,000 on course turnover and the off-course $500,000
|Perth (Extract from ATL booklet The Computer Tote 1974)|
It introduced greyhound racing in the state of Western Australia in a very special way...at a track served entirely by an on-course Computer totalisator System designed and installed by Automatic Totalisators Limited. No bookmakers. It is the first major track in Australia to be designed exclusively for greyhound racing in conjunction with a computer totalisator operation.
The Cannington central racetrack, newest showplace of Australian greyhound racing, provides modern and unique facilities for the public. One special feature is the " showcase " computer room, designed to give the public a view of the computer totalisator system in operation.
Another feature is the impressive computer-controlled lampbox indicator which will show up to the minute odds, results and dividends within viewing distance of almost every part of the track.
The Cannington computer tote will cater for ten starters, Win, Place and Quinella. The system involves the use of A.T.L.'s J8 and J10 ticket issuing machines with an immediate capacity of 128 machines.
I received an email from Liam Norris, Manager Broadcast Services GreayhoundsWA. Following are some extracts:
I stumbled across your totalisator website today and found it fascinating.
I've worked for Greyhounds WA since the late 1980s. For the last 20 years or so my office has been (and I quote) the " showcase " computer room you mention in your article.
To be honest the roller door hardly ever goes up these days, but I'm happy to report the BCU Multiplexer still clicks over on every race work wouldn't be the same without the clack-clack-clack-clack of pulling relays!
Graeme Collins is retired now but I still see him all the time and he frequently comes in to do the odd job here and there.
The 3-story indicator board is still alive. I've got my eyes on the jarrah floorboards that have been drying nicely for the last 40 years. Also, the twin power supplies for the indicator board and the control panel in the Judges Room are still functioning... you'll be pleased to hear the whole system remains an integral part of our race-night production.
Unfortunately the fate of the indicator board is sealed as the Cannington venue is due to be demolished in July next year. We are moving to new premises behind the current indicator board location (ie. east, towards the railway line).
In December 2012 I visited my eldest son in Perth. I visited the Cannington Greyhound track. As a result, I met with Graeme Collins who I remembered from the ATL years. We did some serious reminiscing. I learnt that, like us, he was still maintaining an ATL Lamp Box indicator, his at Cannington ours at Eagle Farm. It was interesting to find that, despite the fact that we had not worked for the same organisation for over a quarter of a century, our opinions regarding the industry were so perfectly aligned.
|Cannington Central - Tote Topics Autumn 1977|
A $40,000 building, a unique design and access to the best totalisator facilities in the State of Western Australia ...........(So says the "Sunday Independent" in December 1976).
The fully computerised totalisator system, with its $180,000 indicator board is years ahead of its rival racing bodies.
A two year tax free government loan and the recent introduction of Trifecta betting has ensured the club will be able to pay its own way.
The Canning Greyhound Association is looking for a solid base - a gradual improvement based on a long-term future.
With this in mind the centre oval has been prepared and leased on the W.A. Rugby Football League where matches will be played each Sunday during the season.
When the first trifecta dividend at Cannington Central paid $1076.10 it guaranteed the success of the new novelty betting. It opened the gate to the rainbow which has attracted thousands of punters, big and small, to a form of novelty betting unequalled in the State.
The Managing Secretary Mr. Lew Dorsa is most enthusiastic about the development of this project and judging by the crowds at each meeting it really fulfils an entertainment gap.
With a ten race program starting with the first race at 7.40 pm the concluding race is timed to start at 10.40 pm.
Visitors marvel at the magnificent appointments in the stand and the club claims to have the finest illuminated track in Australia specifically designed and built for dog racing.
The Grandstand has a capacity for 5,000 people, three modern fast-food outlets, a 300 capacity, fully tiered a la carte restaurant, an excellent committee room with private bar and a pleasure-land for children.
|Seventh Asian Racing Conference Wellington N.Z.|
The Julius Tote Indicator at Trentham
The old Julius tote barometer odds indicators and grand total indicators are still looking good on the side of this tote building at Trentham Racecourse Wellington in the above photograph taken in September 2007. These were part of the Julius tote mentioned in this article.
These are extracts from Tote Topics Number 14 - Feb 1968 Titled Seventh Asian Racing Conference Wellington, New Zealand 15th-25th Jan, 1968
Before going to New Zealand for the Seventh Asian Racing Conference let us first take a brief look at the history of the A.R.C.
A.R.C. or Asian Racing Conference proper was founded after the first Tokyo Convention in 1960 and since then it has been held in Singapore, Australia, Philippines, India and Thailand. New Zealand will complete the circuit and next year the A.R.C. will start a new round with the eighth conference in Tokyo. The objectives of the gathering are to create better understanding and exchange of information and experiences relative to all phases of horse racing.
The Seventh A.R.C. opened in Wellington N.Z. on Tuesday 16th January, 1968 with a flag raising ceremony at Trentham racecourse in the presence of about 300 visitors from 10 countries. It was a very colourful occasion with many visitors dressed in their national costume. Flags representing Australia, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, The Philippines, Thailand, the U.S.A. and N.Z. were ceremonially raised by members of the Royal N.Z. Air Force, the band of which played the appropriate national anthems. ...
Mr. B.H. Crowley Chairman of the A.J.C. spoke on the joint ownership of race horses and mentioned a rather humorous incident where a total of 64 university students owned a race horse in Sydney. He admitted that this was an extreme case and stressed that it was important to limit the number of owners in order to control the legal side of owning and racing a race horse. ...
To conclude the session a short film was shown on Totalisator installations around the world. This film was made available to A.T.L. Sydney Australia. ...
Saturday 20th January was the day that most delegates had been eagerly awaiting, it was the first day of the 1968 Wellington Cup Carnival at Trentham Racecourse and the first opportunity for most delegates to experience horse racing in N.Z. Trentham Racecourse is one of the five principal N.Z. racecourses, it is owned and operated by the Wellington Racing Club and is situated in a picturesque rural area, approximately 18 miles from Wellington. The first race was due to start at 11.30 am and delegates and wives began arriving at the racecourse at about 10.30 am. The racecourse was bathed in sunshine and everything was in favour for a pleasant day at the races. ...
The totalisator is the only legal form of betting on racecourses in N.Z. as it is in Asian Countries. The first totalisator at Trentham was installed in 1920 by A.T.L. Sydney and while the equipment has been updated over the years there is still equipment in use today which was manufactured over thirty years ago and all the present day equipment which was manufactured by A.T.L. is maintained in immaculate condition. Delegates interested in the totalisator were taken on a tour of inspection but while the equipment was a real eyecatcher, especially in the machine room, it was not entirely new to the majority because similar equipment is installed on their own racecourses.
To get back to the race meeting, the main race of the day was the Wellington Cup but to the 7th A.R.C. delegates the Wellington Stakes was of great interest because the winner of this race received a very attractive silver cup which was donated by the Malayan Racing Association - Singapore and presented by delegates from these clubs. One interesting point about the meeting was that immediately the horses passed the winning post the dividends appeared on the infield indicator and on investigation it was found that it is permissible to display this information before the official results are declared.
|Racing in New Zealand Part III Tote Topics|
This is an extract from Tote Topics Number 31 - July 1969
Racing and Trotting meetings are widely decentralised throughout the Dominion. The majority of on-course Totalisators are operated by Automatic Totalisators Limited and its subsidiary Company, New Zealand Totalisators Limited. During the year ended 30.6.68 A.T.L. and its subsidiary operated the Totalisator for 92 clubs from which a turnover of nearly $31,000,000 was handled at some 300 meetings. The remaining $18,000,000 of 'On course' turnover was handled by James Totalisators ltd., Portable Electric Totalisators Ltd., The Auckland Racing Club, The Wellington Racing Club and the Canterbury Jockey Club. These racing clubs use equipment manufactured by A.T.L. and the Auckland Racing Club has in addition the distinction of being the first club in the world to install an automatic totalisator. Their equipment was manufactured and installed in 1913 under the supervision of Sir George Julius, the founder of Automatic Totalisators Ltd.
|Ian Waugh's Memories of New Zealand|
This section contains an email from Ian Waugh - August 2014. I remember Alexandra Park. I was taken there by Professor Bob Doran who gave Narelle and I a wonderful tote history tour of Auckland in 2007. Regarding the people Ian recalls, I too keep in touch with Mervyn Smith and Roger Penwarden who after a recent move after retirement, we live close to. The others I have seen at the annual reunion dinners in Sydney, some every year. Ian's email follows:
I was employed by ATL at Wanganui NZ in 1963 and worked for the company there and in Auckland until 1982 when the company's NZ assets were purchased by NZTAB. Then worked for TAB until retirement. Mervyn Smith was my immediate superior in Wanganui and then Auckland and we still visit each other when either family "crosses the ditch".
You may already be aware, but in 1963 ATL installed a complete Tote system for Auckland Trotting Club at Alexandra Park. This system had two Lamp box W/P Dividend displays driven from the machine room equipment. This setup lasted until around 1982/83 when TAB installed their Computer equipment. The ATC purchased the Outfield Indicator and Merv and I arranged for an ex-Wanganui post office technician (the late John Ashworth) to design and construct an interface to drive the Indicator relays.
An ATL Lamp Indicator brochure cover
The above image shows the Auckland Trotting Club indicator installation, which Ian mentions above, at the bottom of the page. This image is the front of a brochure on the ATL Lamp Indicators. A larger version of the full brochure is presented in the first part of the Photo Gallery of this website which can be seen by selecting the "Go to the index" Nav Bar option at the end of this page and then selecting the "Photo Gallery+Synchronicity" chapter and scrolling down and selecting the thumbnail for this brochure.
This system is still in operation at Alexandra Park where I regularly do really basic maintenance ie Lamp replacement and relay adjustment when necessary.
The interesting point is that it's still working and recently had its 50th birthday. I hope this doesn't cause Murphy's Rule to action as any major problems to cabling, equipment or interface will probably cause the death of it!
Some names on your contact list still ring a bell with me. William Johnson is probably the "Bill Johnson" I stayed with in Sydney once, while on a computer course. Roger Penwarden and Richard Sterndale-Smith also jogged my memory of the Hawkes Bay computer tote installation. Del Linkhorn, another Aucklander and ex Tote Engineer for Auckland Racing Club who also used the Wanganui-designed Interface unit for their infield indicator.
|The Durban Turf Club - Tote Topics Winter 1978|
A magnificently dressed Durban Rickshaw Man
I felt compelled to include the above photo that accompanied this article as it is so impressive.
In July 1884 Durban's first race meeting was held, and the population was agog with excitement. Ropes and flags indicated the finishing straight and the rest of the course was marked with flags. Wagons out-spanned along the make-shift course and the ladies in all their finery watched from there. The judges' stand was an inverted packing case and a bugler of the Sherwood Foresters sounded the start of each race, while other soldiers were ordered to keep the finish clear of dogs.
As time went by, the organisation of these primitive meetings steadily improved and in 1884 the lease of the race course was bought by the Grand Stand Company. The Company improved the course and erected a grandstand which was used for many years.
The Durban Turf Club was formed in March 1897. The Annual subscription fee was fixed at 5 guineas, a fee which remains unchanged today. The Turf Club held its first meeting in July, 1897.
By early this century membership was steadily increasing and the July Handicap was becoming recognised as the premier turf event in South Africa. The Club held 24 meetings a year and the future of racing in Durban seemed assured.
During the 1914-1918 War, special meetings were held for the benefit of War funds and the relief of distress in Britain, France and Belgium. In 1917-1918 a fund was established to provide financial assistance to members and others who enlisted in the forces. At the same time the Stewards inaugurated a voluntary 2.5% tax on totaliastor takings. This money, plus sums voted from the Club funds, was donated to patriotic funds and charities. A similar pattern was followed during 1939-45 when the entire profits were donated by the Stewards to the war effort.
An interesting survival of tradition, which is unique in South Africa, is the 'Durban Club Tent' at the Greyville racecourse. In 1873 the Durban Club accepted the offer of the loan of a tent for the races. Over the years the 'tent' became an institution, and graduated to a marquee, then a canvas-covered structure, a light wooden frame building, and ultimately the substantial brick structure which was built in 1954.
Greyville, the Durban Turf Club's course, is situated almost in the centre of the city. The track is pear shaped, covering a distance of one and three-quarter miles with an average width of 90 feet. The course is bisected by a main traffic highway which passes under the track at two points through bridged subways. Within its perimeter is the Royal Durban Golf course, of international standard. A permanent field staff of 78 maintains the track and grounds, and on race day this staff is considerably augmented by gate attendants, security officers, car park supervisors and other part-time employees.
Totalisator betting on the course itself is completely mechanised. There are 150 win and place ticket machines and more than 50 doubles-dupla machines.
Nine races are run during meetings. There are win-and-place pools on all races; two daily doubles (on the third and fourth races and the seventh and eighth); dupla pools on four races (the first, fifth, sixth and ninth); a jackpot (betting on winners of the last four races); and a place accumulator (betting on winners of the last four races); and a place accumulator (betting on placed horses in the last seven races).
Off-course Totalisator Betting was discussed as far back as 1952, and in 1958 the Racing and Betting Ordinance was amended to permit Licensed Racing Clubs to conduct Off-Course Totalisator Betting. Since 1960 this has been controlled by the Natal Totalisator Agency Board, whose members represent the Province's three racing clubs and the Natal Provincial Administration. There are branches or agencies throughout Natal which accept all types of betting operated on the racecourses, but their doors must be closed one hour before the starting time of the first race of the day. Off-Course totalisator investments are included in the pools at the different racecourses, so that all totalisator investors receive the same dividends whether they are bet on course or off.
The Durban Turf Club is the largest racing in South Africa and holds 23 meetings throughout the year. The Winter Season is the zenith of racing in Natal and from the end of May to early August the best horses in the country come to Durban to compete for the attractive prize money offered by the club. The Great Winter Meeting - the most important of the three winter meetings is held in July each year. The highlight of this is the July Handicap, which has become a national event. The whole country becomes caught up in 'July Fever' and Durban is crammed with visitors from all over South Africa who come specially for the meeting. The July Handicap was first run in 1897 over one mile for a stake of 500 sovereigns. Today the race is run over a distance of 2200m, for a stake of R75,000, a special Totalisator condition applicable to this race only. Dividend will be paid on horse placed 4th if 12 or more horses weigh-out. 1st R48750, 2nd R15000, 3rd R7500, 4th R3750. In 1977 18 starters accepted for this race.
Mr. M.J. Campion Assistant Secretary was very helpful to the editor in supplying the detail as outlined. He also expressed his Club's satisfaction with all the ATL equipment and their service.
Webmasters Note: This is not part of the Tote Topics article presented above, however it relates to Durban, the subject of this article. Bill Johnson, an ex-Automatic Totalisators Limited. Engineer and Manager, whose father another Bill Johnson also worked for Automatic Totalisators Limited, sent me an email in December 2015 and commented: Don Hardy and my father were on the Durban installation in 1937. I am not aware of others there. As this article refers to the tote being completely mechanised, this 1937 installation Bill refers to is probably the Julius Tote in operation at the time the comment referring to completely mechanised totalisator betting was made.
Chris Robertson, the most totalisator industry knowledgeable high value punter I have met, provided the following South African ATL system ticket images as an adjunct to the above article. The middle ticket is from Durban, the subject of this article.
Chris Robertson's tickets from South Africa
Chris Robertson wrote about the tickets above:
The stake on each ticket is in Rand, signified by the letter R. ATL and Bell Punch machines were part of a tandem operation at Durban Turf Club's Greyville racecourse in Natal in 1983. The ticket in the middle is from an ATL J18 machine.Three different generations of ATL machines served the South African Turf Club's Kenilworth racecourse in Cape Town. The first ticket is from a J18. The third is the only example I have of a win bet from a J10 machine. This particular J10 machine was otherwise used to sell the swinger (duet or any two in Australia). The bottom ticket is a J25 off course TAB ticket.
Some notes on South African tote betting:
- The place tote pays on four placegetters in fields of sixteen or more. This is also the case for Tabcorp's SuperTab pools on South African races, as they are now co-mingled with South African pools.
- There was no quinella or exacta betting; the swinger or dupla were sold instead.
- Doubles paid on two winners or either winner and the second horse in the other leg.
- There was a four race Jackpot bet, as well as s seven race place accumulator. These last two pools were clearly the most popular bet types available. They were sold from separate windows to all other bet types.
- As is the practice in France, stablemates were coupled on the win tote, jackpot and place accumulator. This is no longer the case in South Africa, though in France this still occurs.
Chris mentions the J25 off-course TAB ticket above. This has triggered a significant memory recall in me. In my early years of working for Automatic Totalisators Limited, when I visited the head office pretty regularly sometimes for extended visits, I recall a major project called WPTAB. This is an acronym for Western Province TAB in South Africa and in conversation it was referred to by the acronym which was pronounced like WUPTAB making the u as silent as possible. This was a project that had major resources dedicated to it and the software involvement in the project continued over many years well above and beyond what would be regarded as maintenance programming. I recall years of visiting the factory and seeing Malcolm Richardson, who was a well-liked programmer and project manager, racing around tending to the needs of this project. He usually appeared hurried, in a lather of sweat, with his shirt hanging out, as if he had been dealing with a group of alligators and gave the impression that he could not afford much time before getting back to the fray. Actually, I know that feeling all too well and now see being free of this condition as a wonderful part of retirement! Chris' J25 ticket at the bottom of the image above, was produced by Malcolm's system.
|Turffontein - Extracts from Tote Topics Autumn 1978|
Torffontein's history dates back to the discovery of gold on the Witwatersrand and the pioneers who flocked there in 1886 to grab their share of the yellow harvest.
Ingrained in these rough and ready men was a love of gambling, and most preferred to be on a running horse rather than the turn of a card. So in 1887 the first Johannesburg Summer Handicap forerunner of the Holiday Inns R100,000 was staged with the start near where Motortown is today. The finish was in the vicinity of today's intersection of Eloff and Commissioner Streets.
The race was won by 'Haco' and ridden by Bundy, some of the bets which were held by 'stakeholders' were laid and paid in gold dust or nuggets.
The Stewards of the newly formed Johannesburg Turf Club were far sighted enough to realise that the venue for their first races couldn't last very long - the mining settlement of Johannesburg was growing rapidly - so they leased a portion of the farm Turffontein for 3,000 pounds a year, and in 1893 laid the foundation of the original Turffontein Grandstand which still stands today, but will be demolished when Section 3 of the New Complex is built.
In 1929 the Johannesburg Turf Club purchased the Race Course from Village Deep Ltd., for 28,000 pounds. The Club wasted no time in turning the bare veld into a racecourse and had it ready for the next Johannesburg Summer Handicap. Turffontein has been the home of the race right up to 1972 when the name was changed and it became the 'Holiday Inns', the richest horse-race in South Africa. The first two years at Turffontein were expensive ones for the Johannesburg Turf Club, and it found itself deep in the red. But somehow the stewards bailed it out and nine years later it was making good money. Then came the South African War and the Club closed until it ended in 1902.
As Johannesburg grew into a city, Turffontein expanded again and again to cater for the increasing number of racegoers. Then in 1935 the Johannesburg Turf Club created racing history by installing the first automatic tote in the country. It gave good service until the new computerised totalisator was installed by ATL and commissioned during October 1974. Mr. Christie said he was very proud of their new ATL Computerised totalisator and it was proving a great boom to punters.
The old tote was not discarded but moved to the Mashonaland Turf Club in Rhodesia and it is now giving good service to the punters there.
When pony and galloway racing came to an end in South Africa in 1954, the Johannesburg Pony and Galloway Club which had conducted race meetings, and been associated with Turffontein since 1895, changed its name to the Transvaal Racing Club. Today, Turffontein is the headquarters for both the Johannesburg Turf Club and the Transvaal Racing Club, and is controlled by the Turffontein Race Course Management Committee which consists of 3 Stewards from each Club.
Rex Turner wrote about the projects he worked on at ATL. The following relates to the Turffontein Race Club:
I am unsure why I was asked to call in at Turffontein it may have been due to a design feature I had just created. It was thought that the J10 and J8 Ticket machines were causing switch bounce which placed multiple bets into Scanners. As a result I derived a small circuit to inhibit the Scanner input for a set time after the initial input.
I do recall being in the Club Secretary's Office when a horse ambled in through the open French windows; walked around the desk; located an apple in a coat pocket on the hat stand; ate the apple and wandered back out to the track. I said Nothing!
On the 4th of October 2013, I received an email from Ian Johnston relating to Turffontein. This email has particular interest to me. I recall my good friend Colin Thomas, who is mentioned, telling me about his work in South Africa shortly after I joined ATL. Additionally the first DEC (Digital Equipment Corporation) course I did with ATL was the same one Ian mentions and we had the same lecturer Ray Warner. Following are extracts from Ian's email.
I saw your web site when researching my old workplace at Turffontein race course in Sth Africa. I was the tote engineer there from its installation in the early 1970's until I left about 5 years later. I was hired into the job as I was a telecommunications engineer with experience in electromechanical switching. (The old tote was a Siemens system build with uni-selectors).
The club at that time had decided to do a major upgrade under the watch of Sandy Christie and this included a new grandstand and tote complex. After recruitment, three of us were shipped to ATL in Meadowbank for 3 months for product training as well as attending Digital PDP 11 courses in Artarmon. We had a project engineer from Meadowbank come over to Sth Africa, Fred Escort, who was in fact English and was taunted greatly by his Oz counterparts.
Webmasters Note: Peter Collier ex Chief Engineer ATL Victoria has corrected the statement in the last sentence in June 2016. Peter wrote: The ATL engineer was Fred Lund. Fred Escort was a Melbourne engineer and at that time could have been in Sydney doing his PDP 11 course. Addendum: It is now March 2017 and Ian Johnston has confirmed that the project engineer from Meadowbank who went to South Africa was Fred Lund.
The ATL person that sticks out in my mind most is Colin Thomas a key programmer that also came over to set up and commission the system. (I believe I did see a reference to Colin in one of your ATL documents, but have now failed to find it. He was a bright skinny energetic person as I recall).
I have many stories to tell of these early days but one stands out. As mentioned in your history of Turffontein, they have (had) an annual Holiday Inns handicap. This I guess was the equivalent of the Melbourne cup at the time. As it was race 5 on the card, we took early bets on the race from Race 1 at special dedicated windows. When betting opened on Race 5 the idea was that the collected pool would be added to the current race betting and we would continue selling from there. This was not to be as the PDP 11 simply crashed and stopped all bets across the track. I recall vividly the CEO, Sandy Christie coming into the computer room ashen faced and pleaded for us to "do something". In the end we simply dropped the power to the infield odd indicator, stopped the feeds to the race TV screens and reset the computer from scratch to reopen betting. We took all bets on the race but did not show any odds as the computer was now incorrect. We managed to pay out at race end, by the skills of a clever auditor we had on track (two were on track every race day to audit the tote). With a bit of thumb sucking and pencil chewing he came up with the payout figures for each horse at race end. On the final tally up a week later, he was only out by about 5% in his pool and payout calculations. This bomb out, caused Colin to come back over to Sth Africa to do a post mortem. Seems that despite our rigorous pre race testing, we could never have found the fault as it was some kind of buffer overflow due to the high volume of betting...
Finally the reference in your notes to "Tote to Rhodesia" was correct as the outgoing engineer, Jimmy recovered all of the two motion stuff and the in track indicator flaps and had them shipped to Salisbury (now Harare). I often wonder what happened to all of the people of that time. I am now retired and live in Hong Kong. I do love to visit Happy Valley on a Wed night to see the races under lights. There is a segment on Happy Valley titled "Happy with ATL at Happy Valley" below.
That ends Ian's email. Ian mentions an on-line drama with the tote. Any veteran of tote engineering and probably more broadly development of and the early operational period of, real time computer systems, that involve the emotive entity called money, have a rendition of hair raising experiences. Ian mentions a buffer overflow. I have contended with multiple problems in this category. We had rigorous software testing programs, however it appears that no matter how intense the testing, some bugs always seem to slip through. I recall a crash of a critical tote application during a tote operation with a VAX based tote. I was convinced it was a hardware problem as the software had been stable and operational for many years. The following crash analysis I conducted, after eliminating any possible hardware cause, led me to a software bug which really surprised me. The detection of the software bug was made straight forward, as our branch was also maintaining the software as well, so I was amazed to find this software bug. This bug lay dormant several years, waiting for the set of circumstances to arise that resulted in its existence being demonstrated.
I have just had a typical demonstration of what I mentioned above about tote veteran horror stories. I sent Ian's email to Neville Mitchell who had first hand experience with the Turffontein Project. Apart from filling in some gaps in memory, he offered the following recollection of an on-line tote problem:
The episode of estimating the dividend on a fouled up tote, reminds me of a night at Bankstown Trots. I was working the doubles system all was running ok then I noticed that the paper tape was not incrementing and there was now a large "Slot" cut across the paper tape, I stopped the machine repaired the broken increment pawl and restarted betting, The three elderly guys in charge of the meeting estimated the dividend based on previous knowledge. On wash up we were only down by 5 cents per payout. I was unsettled by this event as My pie & Sauce had gone Cold!!
Following are some more extracts from Ian's second email.
A bit of background re Turffontein. It was of course a Sell only system and had a mix of J8's and J18/2's as I recall. We did not have a full complement of TIM's and so shared them with the nearby track at Germiston. They raced Wednesday and we did Saturdays. So Thursday was fit-out day of the J18's and on Monday they were loaded onto the truck for the return journey to Germiston. The photo on your web site of the Singapore installation is pretty much a carbon copy of Turffontein from what I can judge from the photo.
As tote engineer, I had no involvement with the payout and cash side of the operations. This fell to the tote manager who handled all cash, balances and fraud issues. Although we did get consulted in fraud matters to ascertain the validity of the ticket in question. On that topic we did learn a valuable lesson regarding security of TIM's. Initially to save time on a Saturday morning the mechanics preloaded the TIM's with the "paper of the day" and set up the 5 letter drum codes in the TIM's all ready for Race 1 on Saturday. Over time we noticed leakage, for which we could not account, as the tickets that were presented were all real and valid. However they all came from a set of TIM's in the members area we believed. It was a while before we latched onto an old guy who used to walk his dog at the track and would often nod and say hello on the way past. It turned out that he was making a detour through the selling hall in the members and had learned how to open and "turnover" a TIM to produce a ticket for every horse in Race 1 as the paper and drums were all pre loaded. When we stopped the practice of Friday afternoon pre-loads, it stopped. A security lesson for us as we were much too slack in our machine and booth security between race days...
|Bahrenfeld Germany - Quarterly Magazine July 1979|
Quarterly was a publication of Autotote Limited. This American company used to be a subsidiary of Automatic Totalisators Ltd. It started out as ATUSA a mnemonic for Automatic Totalisators USA and changed its name to Autotote. I well remember the J25 terminals at the Brisbane metropolitan tracks, which are mentioned in this article. I visited Autotote in Philadelphia in 1983. At that time Autotote impressed me more like a sister company than a subsidiary. ATL had divided the planet into two regions as I recall, The Americas and Europe which Autotote serviced and the rest which ATL Limited serviced. It is interesting how we shared technology. Autotote had developed a VAX based totalisator as did Automatic Totalisators. The Automatic Totalisators system was VOTS (Victorian On Course Totalisator System). Automatic Totalisators reviewed the Autotote and VOTS systems to determine which to base their future tote systems on. They chose the Autotote system and this became the basis for the Automatic Totalisators Ltd's Atlas system. I think the fact that it was written in Pascal was significant.
Following are extracts from the Quarterly magazine:
In 1973, Autotote installed its first sell/cash system in Hamburg, Germany, at the Bahrenfeld Trabrennbahn, Germany's major harness racing facility. The terminal that handled both types of wagering transactions was the J-20, forerunner to the new J-25 terminal. It read a bettor-marked IBM card, printed a bet verification and serial number on the card and cashed by reading a machine readable serial number. The terminal had no keyboard or display for corrections and required the bettors to use special pencils. Two red lights indicated a card incorrectly marked, while two white lights and the sound of the impact printer indicated a bet accepted by the system. Alongside the J-20s were J-18 sell-only keyboard terminals, designed to handle 24 starter multi-value, multi -pool betting. Neither terminal has seen service in the United Sates, and while they were ahead of their time, both have now given way to the new technology embodied in the J-25. The system and terminals, however, are very effectively handling the wagering at Bahrenfeld and are, in part, responsible for the growth of the sport in Hamburg.
In Northern Germany, there were sufficient numbers of people involved with equestrian sport to foster racing competition. While horses in hilly Rhineland districts and mountainous Bavaria were used almost exclusively as farm animals, it was in the plains of coastal Germany and Schleswig-Holstein that horses were bred for sport. It is here that the Trakehner, Holstein, Hanoverian, and Schleswig strains evolved, breeds that still dominate world class dressage and three-day event competitions. Still, trotting enjoyed little support from horse show circles. We had to attract people - especially young people - who would otherwise spend an afternoon off from work sailing, at a soccer match, or going for a picnic, says Berndt Jaenecke, a former journalist who now directs the promotional activities of the Bahrenfeld track. The way to achieve this was through intensified public relations activities, updating and standardizing the racing regulations, and the adoption of the most modern, effective, electronic totalisator techniques.
Jaenecke points out that this three-pronged approach has begun to pay off handsomely - the Bahrenfeld track has logged an average increase in attendance of 15% in the last four years, with bets climbing proportionately. Many of the people you see here today - maybe half of them - would have had no interest in trotting five years ago, observes Jaenecke, and the electronic totalisator has played an important role - not only in making the track operation more efficient, but throughout our promotional efforts.
The techniques noted by the promotions manager at Bahrenfeld would be cited by track managers throughout America as indispensable to a successful racing operation whether in New York City or Warsaw, Kentucky, and they have achieved dramatic results within a context that is vastly different from the structure of horse racing in this country. ...
Postscript: Further to my comments at the top of this article regarding ATL dividing the planet into two regions I have just discovered these addresses that define the division. They are extracted from an ATL sales brochure titled "The J25 is the Complete Sell-Cash Terminal" and are preceded by the ATL Logo.
|In North, South and Central America contact: Autotote Limited, 100 Bellevue Road, Newark, Delaware 19713, U.S.A.||In Europe contact: Autotote Limited, Raiffeisenstrasse 4, D775 Konstanz 16, West Germany.||In Austrlalia, New Zealand, Asia and Africa contact: ATL Limited, P.O.Box 21, Ryde, 2112, New South Wales, Australia. Phone: 807-0711|
|Mariendorf Trabrennbahn Germany - Autotote system|
I do not have any tickets from Bahrenfeld, the subject of the previous article, however Chris Robertson has provided the following tickets from Mariendorf Trabrennbahn which had an Autotote system installed in 1984. Mariendorf is in Berlin, which is not far from Bahrenfeld in neighbouring Hamburg.
Chris Robertson's tickets from Mariendorf
Chris Robertson wrote the following about the tickets above: Mariendorf trots in West Berlin. These scans are from Autotote's equivalent to ATL's J25. Unfortunately the German tickets have not aged well, probably a paper quality issue. This is a problem generally with thermal printing. Something to be said for the old ways. First ticket is a four horse win bet. Middle ticket is a trifecta 9 on top, with 1 and 2 in both underneath positions. Third ticket is an exacta. From memory DM2.5 was the minimum bet. Advertising on the ticket reverse just to let you know you are in the decadent capitalist sector of the city, not the Democratic sector.
I note that these tickets have a feature that I attempted to implement in Brisbane but never succeeded. The tickets have advertising on them. In this case, translating from German, the company name is FRANE which has paper for the modern technology office. It has Punched Paperetape, Telex, FAX and cash register rolls, thermal paper rolls, copypaper, carbon paper, different paper forms, as well as computer labels, ink ribbons toner and floppy disks. As Chris points out, the advertisement is on the back of the ticket and consequently reads backwards when viewed from the front. As the advertisement is not lined up with each ticket, I think the advertisement is originally printed on the back of the whole ticket paper roll and not printed at the time of issue.
Me at Mariendorf Trabrennbahn
During a holiday in Germany whilst staying in Berlin, Narelle and I visited Mariendorf Trabrennbahn (Mariendorf Trots) on 25/8/2016. I was interested in this trotting track because of the totalisator history connection with the company called Atusa, renamed Autotote. Conscious of my never having used German in earnest before, I was very pleased to find that I managed to convey my peculiar interest in totalisator history to a couple of managers who worked for the trotting club. I started by explaining that I am a foreigner from Australia and am interested in Totalisator History and worked for Automatic Totalisators Limited and that an American subsidiary company of ours installed a tote system on their trotting track in the decade starting 1980. I was surprised to find that they were very enthusiastic about their history including that of their totalisator systems. The first indication that we were on the same wavelength came when one of them mentioned Sportech, the company that as of the time of writing owns Autotote. It is curious how some things are constant. The local club management, despite being on the opposite side of the world and speaking a different language and having a different culture, were very busy grappling with the daily requirements of running a race club, performing the exact same functions as I had witnessed over decades in Australia. It was amazing that they managed to weave our surprise visit into their busy schedule. They informed us that coincidentally, they were in the process of documenting and presenting the history of their club, Mariendorf Berliner Trabrenn-Verein e.V. on the Internet. They said it was a pity we had not been there the day before when the track was operating, as I could have met the tote engineer. We were asked if we could come in on Saturday but I said we were going to Hungary early in the morning at which point, the apparently senior manager, went away and said he was going to make a phone call. He returned shortly after, saying that he had spoken to the engineer and that he was coming in to talk to me and we would meet him in about 15 minutes. The manager I spoke most with was Norbert, who spoke to us whilst juggling other work with his colleague running around to take more of the workload. Norbert told us that Mariendorf Trabrennbahn was the first track in Germany to have lighting and conduct night trotting meetings. It quickly became apparent that they knew a lot more about the history of their totalisator than I expected. They knew the company name Autotote and knew that it had installed a system at their track and informed me that it commenced operation in 1984.
When the Tote Engineer arrived, he introduced himself as Axel and said it is interesting to meet me. After a short conversation, he astounded me by stating that it is good, that what he had been told was true, that I could speak such good German. If anything, I was expecting a mutual feeling that communication was difficult, as I had never been engaged in anything of a technical nature in German and knew practically nothing of the grammar. I must thank my U3A German class that Narelle and I have been attending recently, for improving on my German language memories of an eight year old. Axel told me that he could give me some old J25 terminals if I wanted them! I knew the Australian J25s very well as my department maintained them for many years. I replied that I had enough with the J22 and J18 terminals that I already had on display in our shed at home. Axel also said that it was a pity that I had not come earlier as he had just been through a major clean-up, discarding nostalgic old tickets and documentation relating to the Autotote system. Despite this, he performed a quick search for some nostalgia whilst we were there but he could not find anything. He said he would conduct a more extensive search for information about the system and try and find some old betting tickets which he will send if he finds anything. Axel's next revelation was totally unexpected. When I mentioned Autotote again, Axel replied that the old Autotote system was still in operation! Thirty two years is a good lifespan for a computer tote system!
I had an amazing revelation when the managers showed me some of their club history and I saw a photo of a trotter pulling a sleigh behind it in the snow. It dawned on me that this is probably how they race in winter. It seems obvious now, however I had never wondered what happens to trotting events during winter in countries where it snows. I asked if they regularly operated sleighs during winter and the reply was "of course". We were told we could wander around the track and facilities all we like and take whatever photographs we wish, which we did. Whilst walking around the track we took some snaps of the Tims and I noticed they have a Scientific Games emblem. Scientific Games is a company that Autotote bought and used their name, probably for the same reason we changed our name to ATL, to divest ourselves of the implied limitation of producing systems only for the racing industry, which was not the case. We parted company, vowing to communicate further on the Internet once their busy period was over in October and we were back at home in Australia.
It is curious to note that Mariendorf commenced trotting operations in 1913, the same year George Julius' automatic totalisator invention went into operation at Ellerslie in New Zealand. I have placed a link to the Berliner Trabrenn-Verein in the links page of this website. Norbert said he would read this Totalisator History website when he has time and asked if he could link to it, which received an enthusiastic "of course."
Chris Robertson wrote the following comment after reading the above: Incidentally Australians can now bet on Mariendorf trots and other German venues through the TAB.
|Happy with ATL at Happy Valley|
The Hong Kong PDP8 Totalisator System at Happy Valley
The above image is the system that Happy Valley is happy with!
Following is a small segment from a company booklet titled ATL International Name In Totalisator Betting Systems. At the time this article was written this system had 550 Ticket Issuing Machines.
Happy Valley at Hong Kong is Asia's busiest racecourse, just as Hong Kong is its most bustling city.
Happy Valley is controlled by a race club that is rather special. The profits from the racecourse are given to the various charities in this teeming city. Happy Valley as a result helps build schools, hospitals and other utilities which benefit the general public in Hong Kong.
A Totalisator System that would be efficient in handling the betting and return sound profits to the race club therefore had marked significance for ATL who won the contract.
ATL's installation of an Electronic Totalisator System for the Royal Hong Kong Jockey Club was significant for another reason. The installation was designed to do the same job as its big brother in Aqueduct, only on a more compact scale, but with inbuilt capacity to handle the Club's future requirements for many years to come. Happy Valley has been so called for a long time. But especially so since ATL's Electronic Totalisator System was installed.
I can attest to the Hong Kong Jockey Club's community projects. I lived in Hong Kong for five years as a schoolboy. I returned to Hong Kong for a holiday and a trip down memory lane in 1984 after assisting with an installation in Kota Kinabalu. I recall being surprised to see a massive skyscraper being built with a large banner on the side with the words "Another Hong Kong Jockey Club Community Project"
Following is an image of the Happy Valley PDP8 totalisator system, the photo taken in the Meadowbank factory during its development. Bob Plemel standing in the photo, was the longest serving and most productive engineering manager I knew at ATL. He was a major mentor to me. Note that the doors visible on the upper parts of the equipment racks in the image above, are removed in the image below during the development phase, to gain access to the backplane wiring panels.
Bob Plemel commented on the Tote Control Console or TCC, shown on the far right of the above image with the right hand end of the panel not in view. I remember that in Hong Kong they were mounted in a custom made teak wood desk - very posh for a tote.
Chris Robertson wrote the following about his experience in Hong Kong when he purchased the ticket shown below, at Sha Tin racecourse:
The Hong Kong ticket below is from a J22 machine. Both Happy Valley and Sha Tin had banks of ATL, Amtote and ITS (international Totalisators Systems) machines running parallel with each other in the 1980's. It was a smorgasbord for a tote groupie like myself. I was like a kid let loose in a lolly shop. The Singapore lottery ticket (shown earlier in this page under the heading starting "More of The Singapore Turf Club...") was also from a J22 machine. I wish I had kept some Brisbane and Harold Park J22 tickets. The list of what I wished I had kept is as long as the Flemington straight.
Chris Robertson's ticket from Hong Kong
Unfortunately the word happy, as used in the title of the above article, could not be associated with ATL's following, much later system, for the Royal Hong Kong Jockey Club to be installed at their new racetrack at Sha Tin. The Sha Tin project team designed a tote based on a ring network of PDP11/70 computers, the top of the range. The smorgasbord Chris refers to above, was probably, significantly due to the failure of this project. It failed due to inability to deliver on time. Chris Robertson's ticket above was produced after the failure of the Sha Tin project.
Whilst on the subject of Hong Kong and Happy Valley, in February 1999 I received an email from Stuart Smith who related an interesting story about the system that preceded the ATL PDP8 system at Happy Valley, the subject of this segment. In 2014, Bob Plemel, ex Engineering Manager of ATL, informed me that the ATL PDP8 system superseded the system in this anecdote after it had successfully provided service until it was due for replacement. The anecdote is pertinent as it demonstrates a principle that permeates through this industry, of having to meet deadlines. I have just mentioned a major setback within Automatic Totalisators above, regarding failure to meet a deadline for a major project in Hong Kong and this anecdote demonstrates that other companies felt this pressure as well. I have disguised the name of the company in Stuart's anecdote in case anyone attributes any negativity to it, which in no way is the intention. Actually I find it quite recognisable in my field of experience, ironic with a humorous element to it and it has a happy ending. Another aspect I find attractive about this anecdote is that it brings to mind the axiom It's an ill wind that does not blow anyone any good. Extracts from Stuart's email follow:
Fascinating and interesting history of ATL! I was tote engineer at the Royal Hong Kong Jockey Club from 1977 - 1989, worked on the PDP8 system complete with paper tape loaders, knew Neville Mitchell, went to Meadowbank factory and more...When Bob Plemel and I were in Sydney for the ATL reunion dinner of 2016, we reminisced about old times. We spoke of Stuart Smith and Charlie Eastham. It is now 2017 and I have informed Stuart Smith about this. Stuart sent several photos of the ATL computer system at Happy Valley with some reminiscences of his own. Bob Plemel replied to this in the following email extract. Again I have disguised the name of the company that supplied the totalisator on the ship that sunk. The new totalisator that was supplied by this company operated successfully for the best part of 20 years and was then replaced by the new ATL computer based totalisator.
Charlie Eastham came to Hong Kong with the first XZC tote in around 1951, great story there:
Charlie spent most of his early career on dog totes in London, this would have been post war. Anyway Hong Kong ordered a tote from XZC and of course there was a deadline to get the thing to Hong Kong.
As usual the tote didn't work properly when it left the factory in UK, this would have been around 1949. Charlie was told to sort it out when he got to Hong Kong as the tote had to be on a certain ship to make the first race day. The ship was due to take 8 weeks or so to reach Hong Kong. Charlie, a junior engineer, nervously flew to Hong Kong a few weeks later, with 2 weeks to go, dreading the task of making the beast work.
Well, as soon as he arrived he got word that the ship had hit a mine and sank, much to Charlie's relief. XZC got the insurance money for a full working tote and a year to sort out all the problems. On top of that Charlie got a week or so in HK before heading home.
Great pictures. Brings back many memories of long ago. I knew Charlie Eastham and Bill Pannel very well. I spent most of 1969 in Hong Kong programming and installing the first PDP-8 system at Happy Valley. A lot of beers and a lot of tall tales were told with Charlie and Bill. The XZC tote was still in use in 1969 and ATL with Charles's help, had to build special relay interfaces to the XZC TIMs to interface to the PDP-8 scanners.
Charlie was quite a character. Last I heard, he had gone back to England and bought a pub. I heard he passed away a few years ago. Not sure were Bill is as I have lost touch with him.
|Electronic Totalisators III Tote Topics no. 20|
An ATL PDP8 Triplex Totalisator system
This is a Tote Topics article August 1968. It is interesting to read this very early view of digital computers and the comparison with electromechanical systems. I have often wondered why documentation of these early computer totes refer to printing the odds and pool figures at regular intervals however I never thought that this was a means of data recovery as indicted in this article. With the rapid progress of these systems to handling many venues and far more diverse pools with increased runner combinations, this option would have quickly been rendered impracticable. The above image is not exactly the same as the one in this article however it is one of the triplex PDP8 totes and looks so similar it could come from the same negative. The chair looks the same and is in the exact same position in both photographs. The differences are the colour and the advertisement on this photograph. The image in the magazine is monochrome and where this article refers to dark doors this should be translated to brown in the photo above. Another observation is although I had not heard the term The Check On The Check I worked for decades with this ethos which dictated The System Must Work. I did receive a quip from a non technical manager once that in his opinion, my philosophy required backups of the backups for the backup.
Electronic Totalisators are so different from other types that it is not possible to apply to them the usual reliability criteria. We must, therefore, be very clear what we require in this line because the way in which it is achieved is so utterly different.
Ideally no equipment of any description should ever go wrong or give any trouble. This can never be completely achieved in practice, but with some types of equipment which are well designed and manufactured this ideal can be very closely approached. ATL Totalisator equipment is a case in point where the fault rate is extremely low. It is thus able to provide unfailing service to the punter and ensure that the owner and operator do not lose money.
To achieve these ends, two things must be done. Firstly, as mentioned above, the equipment must be designed and made as well as is humanly possible to reduce the fault rate to the absolute minimum. Secondly, precautions must be taken in the design so that the vital race information can never be lost, come what may. Let us look at these two points in turn and see how they are carried out both with electromechanical and electronic totalisators.
Excellence of mechanical design and manufacture of electromechanical equipment results in a low incidence of faults and also long life. To see that this is so it is only necessary to consider the ATL installations which are still giving excellent service after twenty, thirty and even more years of continuous work. There are many of them spread throughout the world. With electronic equipment, which is made by the large specialist manufacturers, it is, first of all, necessary to select the best available. If the overall reliability must be improved further, and this is frequently the case, then duplication and possibly triplication of the equipment is the answer. As well as providing extra equipment against the possibility of malfunction, the duplicate can provide another check against miscalculation or misreading of data.
By these means it is possible to produce an almost negligible fault rate. However, the financial consequences of any fault can be extremely serious and the second precaution mentioned above must be taken, to ensure that the pool information can never, never, never be lost. The way in which this has been done has given rise to the famous ATL phrase The Check on the Check. With electromechanical totalisators there are always several points from which the initial pool information may be independently obtained to check results, or in case of need. These points are all mechanical, such as counters, and virtually the only thing which could cause the loss of all information would be an atomic bomb!
With Electronic Totalisators the same type of counters are not used. The information is stored in the magnetic core memory of the computers and one cannot look at it and see what is there. However, an integral portion of any Electronic Totalisator is a high speed printer and in normal use the updated odds and pool figures are printed out at frequent intervals, normally between 30 and 90 seconds. Printed information, which can never be significantly in error, is thus always available.
Additional records may be made which are quite independent of the pools accumulated in the machine memory. The most usual type of these is a magnetic tape containing details of all bets. However, it takes some time to use such records which are mainly useful as a long term backup. It is also possible, as with other types of totalisator, to reconstruct the pools from the machine counters and the odds, but again this takes some time.
Hence it can be seen that the principle of The Check on the Check, i.e. the ability to obtain vital information from several independent sources, has been carried through, in its entirety, to the Electronic Totalisator. Due to the different type of equipment, the way in which it has been done is quite different but the result is just the same in completely protecting the punter and the operator against all possible types of equipment faults.
With an Electronic Totalisator all the equipment outside the machine room is familiar, and normal maintenance techniques apply. In the machine room, however, fresh techniques are required on equipment which is similar to many computer installations. Personnel to handle this equipment must still, of course, be thoroughly steeped in tote philosophy. So a new member has been added to the team. He is thoroughly versed in the micro and integrated circuits of modern electronics as well as knowing the effects of the remainder of the totalisator equipment on them.
Shown on the front page of this article is the control section of an ATL Electronic Totalisator using PDP-8 computers. The other items in the machine room, which are not shown in the photograph, are the two high speed printers, the Teletypes and the computer room indicator.
On the left of the picture are three Scanners followed by two Board Control Units with the two Totalisator Control Consoles on the desk in front of them. Of the remaining five cabinets, the three with dark doors house the computers and the other two the extended memories and the high speed readers and punches.
|Harold Park Paceway|
Following is an extract from a company booklet ATL International Name in Totalisator Betting Systems. The electronic totalisator system referred to here is the same as the one in the photograph in the Electronics Totalisators III article above. Harold Park has now closed and its operations moved to Menangle Park.
Harold Park Paceway has been host to many great trotters including Cardigan Bay, who won a million dollars in Australasia and the United States, and Lucky Creed who won 23 successive events. Their performances will be talked about at Harold Park for as long as people remember the time Dan Patch broke the two minute barrier for a mile at Yonkers. And that will be forever.
Harold Park Paceway was the first racecourse in the Southern Hemisphere to install an Electronic Totalisator System.
ATL did the job, its tenth successful Electronic installation since Aqueduct. This year there will be 89 race meetings at Harold Park, 47 of them for trotters and 42 for greyhounds. All will attract huge crowds, for this racecourse is the most important venue of its kind in Australia.
The N.S.W. Trotting Club, the company controlling Harold Park, at the moment can boast of having the most modern Totalisator facilities anywhere in the trotting world.
Chris Robertson provided the above Harold Park ticket images, of Win, Place, Double, Forecast and Quinella tickets, which were produced by the PDP8 totalisator system to which the above article relates. Chris purchased these tickets at Harold Park in 1973 and 1974. This system was later upgraded to a PDP11 based totalisator system which I have done maintenance work on at Harold Park.
Having mentioned Harold Park is closed and moved to Menangle Park, following are extracts from a Tote Topics Magazine Spring 1978 article, titled Manangle Park:
"Throughout the world there would be few lighted Trotting Tracks equal to Menangle park"
Thus reported the panel of nine electrical engineers and architects from the Illuminating Engineering Society of Australia who awarded the Meritorious Lighting Award for 1965 to the Menangle Park Trotting Track.
The layman can readily see the merit of this outstanding illumination - a brilliantly lit track, no glare for spectators or drivers, no overhead wires, no shadows day or night. A really remarkable achievement.
As Menangle Park Trotting Track is regarded by experts as one of the best in Australia, the New South Wales Trotting Club can justly claim world ranking for its subsidiary circuit.
Located only 40 miles from Sydney, in historic surrounding on the beautiful Nepean River, Menangle Park is renowned for its picnic atmosphere, extensive lawns, cleanliness, car parking facilities, strong betting ring and exciting racing.
During World War II the racecourse was converted into an airfield, with a bitumen landing strip running right down the centre. Webmaster's comment: as a pilot, I find this very interesting!
Horse racing was not resumed after the war, and in 1953 the 267 acre property was bought by the NSW Trotting Club because in line with world pattern the race tracks of large cities are well away from the city itself. ...
The N.S.W. Trotting Club predicts an exciting future for Menangle Park. It seems certain that it will share the progress and prosperity of the fast growing Campbelltown and Camden districts now that the electric train service has been extended to Campbelltown.
ATL installed the Totalisator for the first meeting in September, 1953 and recently updated the service to the punter by adding the Trifecta on course for every race. Today the Trifecta pool dominates all the pools thus proving its popularity.
The average attendance for the 20 meetings per year is 3000. The totalisator turnover is around $265,000 with a record of $393,000 on one occasion. The on-course turnover is between $60,000 and $70,000 and bookmakers turnover is about $250,000. A permanent staff of 5 keep the area and facilities in first class order but on race day casual labour is about 100. ...
|William Johnson recalls these systems|
I have included an email from William Johnson written in 2003 for two reasons. First, the systems of this era were based on PDP-8 computers and William mentions them here. Second he mentions several installations of this era that have articles presented here. He mentions Harold Park, which appears under the previous heading and Wentworth Park which appears below. William also mentions Hong Kong and there is a segment on Happy Valley above, which is the system William would have worked on. Finally William mentions Indonesia which is probably the Djakarta system which appears under the next heading. William had a long career with ATL in engineering and managerial roles.
I worked on Melbourne doubles installation 1960's, Caracas installation for three years and left to work in Kuala Lumpur, Penang and Ipoh between 1961-1967.
Kuala Lumpur had the drum adders (also used as totals displays for the public) until a new mechanical totalisator arrived for installation. It was first installed under the grandstand but rainwater problems caused it to be moved to the ground floor above. This was done with local staff between meetings.
One year after my return I worked as an electrical inspector under Colin Holz. We did the inspection for the Hong Kong and Indonesian PDP-8 totalisators. Later, I had a one week crash course with Digital, (same class with Neville Mitchell) then went to work at Harold Park and Wentworth Park Installations and operations.
From memory my brother Jeff did some programming for the PDP-8 and went to Indonesia for the installation. Later on, he introduced the internet to the Australian public in Perth, his children's school.
|Djakarta uses versatile electronic totalisator systems with complete satisfaction|
Following is an extract from a company booklet ATL International Name in Totalisator Betting Systems. The electronic totalisator system referred to here is another PDP8 installation like the ones above and was probably written in 1972.
The racecourse and the greyhound racetrack in Djakarta are the newest in Asia.
Each was built around an ATL Electronic Totalisator System.
The racecourse of the Jakarta Turf Turf Club Pty. Ltd. came into operation last year.
The Djakarta Canidrome commenced greyhound racing in 1970. ATL's totalisator installations will be adequate for many years to come to handle a growing volume of racing business in the fast developing Indonesian capital.
|ATL is home at Wentworth Park|
The ATL indicator at Wentworth Park
The following paragraphs appeared in the booklet ATL international name in totalisator betting systems and was probably written in 1972.
At Wentworth Park in Sydney you rub shoulders with many of the top greyhounds in the Southern Hemisphere. Greyhounds in the same mould as Zoom Top, Roman Earl and Black Top who re-wrote its track records with incredible performances.
This year 1,600 greyhounds will jump from the starting boxes at Wentworth Park. They will all be trying to break records, but few will succeed. Records are anything but fragile at Wentworth Park, being made as they were by real champions.
Half a million people will go to Wentworth Park this season, backing their judgement with a total turnover of about $8 million.
ATL installed its latest equipment at Wentworth Park in 1971. The two-computer system, with two scanners, 90 ticket issuing machines and indicator board, form part of the Electronic Totalisator System which processes the on course and off course investments on each race quicker than the judge can post the winner's number.
ATL fields only one candidate against its speed. Reliability. They dead-heat in the systems race it services.
In its first 9 months of operation the Electronic Totalisator System at Sydney's Wentworth Park has fulfilled every expectation. Attendance figures have risen and betting turnover records have been made and broken with the rise in on-course and off-course investment.
Automatic Totalisators Limited installed the Electronic Totalisator System for Win, Place and Quinella betting at Wentworth Park last June on behalf of the N.S.W. National Coursing Association Limited.
Greyhound meetings at Wentworth Park are now directly televised on Saturday evening in prime time by one of Sydney's major television channels.
These telecasts, the streamlined betting system and the excellent amenities provided by the N.C.A. for greyhound racing at Wentworth Park have combined to give the sport a greatly improved public image.
The N.S.W. National Coursing Association Limited is one of Australia's oldest sporting bodies.
The Association, formed in 1895, has conducted greyhound racing continuously during the past 76 years and is now recognised as one of the most progressive greyhound racing control bodies in the world.
Newly-constructed Leger and Paddock Totalisator Houses accommodate ATL's Electronic Totalisator System. The Odds, Results and Dividend Indicator Board is also electronically controlled.
Wentworth Park is therefore the only racing association in Australia which can boast of having its Totalisator System and Indicator under electronic control.
The Wentworth Park Trust controls general public and sporting facilities at Wentworth Park which also contains one of the State's top Soccer fields and is the venue for first grade matches in this popular football code. Other sporting fixtures, notably the annual 'Highland Gathering' of Sydney's Scottish community also take place at Wentworth Park.
Twin computers combine on-course and off-course investments at Wentworth Park. Closed circuit television is used to transmit Odds, Results and Dividends information throughout the Course for both public and internal use.
As an added feature, the running of each race is videotaped and played back to the patrons on monitors 2 minutes after the greyhounds have crossed the finish line.
The Computer Room incorporates the TAB off-course and ATL control offices in a fully air-conditioned area which is located in the Paddock Totalisator House and overlooks the track.
The Electronic Totalisator System is capable of serving 128 Ticket Issuing Machines selling Win, Place and Quinella tickets in the range of 50 cents to $50.
High speed Line Printers record the information stored in the computers. This information is available for checking and for record purposes at any time.
Logging Teleprinters record all instructions given to the computers and type out data as specified by the program. Instructions not taken care of by the program are keyed into the Totalisator Control Console which serves as an input device.
Calculations of Odds and Dividends are made by the computer under program control. The Lamp Boxes in the Indicator Board are activated by the Board Control Unit which is part of the computer complex.
Five selling divisions equipped with type J11 single value Win, Place and Quinella Ticket Issuing Machines serve the betting needs of the public. Both types of machine are fast lightweight press button units designed to efficiently and speedily handle business at the selling windows.
A new grandstand with many special design features is envisaged in future plans for Wentworth Park. ATL shares with the Wentworth Park Trust and the National Coursing Association their enthusiastic anticipation of this plan becoming a reality, thus providing another facet to the modern facilities offered at this internationally-known greyhound race track.
|Jai Alai - Tote Topics No.39 July 1970|
I have included this article for several reasons. First it gives an introduction to a fast and interesting game that many may not be aware of. Second it provides a history of this game that has ancient origins. Third, as the first sentence indicates, it is, at the time, the only sport on which totalisator betting is legal and is probably the seed that led to the extensive sports betting industry present in the early new millennium. Fourth it demonstrates the application of a tote to something other than the well known three, Gallops, Trots and Dogs. Fifth, it introduces the Big Q and the requirements for building a Fronton which are quite interesting. Finally and far from least it refers to Automatic Totalisators (U.S.A.) which became known as ATUSA which was Automatic Totalisators Pty. Ltd.'s American subsidiary. It later changed its name to Autotote which was a name it became popularly known as in America. The subsidiary was later sold and it became a sister company, sharing technology and products and regions of the planet were agreed upon for each to service.
Jai Alai (pronounced Hi Li) is reputed to be the fastest ball game in the world and the only sport in which totalisator wagering on the skill of human beings is legal.
The Origins of Jai Alai are said to date back to the Babylonians and Mayan Indians but the game as it is known today began some five hundred years ago in the Basque Provinces in Spain - the Pyranees mountains and surrounding foothills, traditional dividing line between France and Spain. The Basque peasants found recreation on Sunday by hurling a ball against the wall of the village church and the game developed until matches were arranged between the best players of each town. The spectators cheered and drank the local wine at the contests and Sunday became fiesta time, in Basque tongue it was called jai-alai which means, 'happy holiday'. The game passed the church wall stage at the beginning of the last century and the first Fronton - building where Jai Alai is played - was built at Eibar, Spain in 1806. However, over the years as with all sports, radical changes have been made in the type of equipment and the structure of the Fronton which has resulted in a faster and more skilful game.
The playing court of the game 'Cancha' is 176 feet long by 40 feet wide and the front wall is 44 feet high, constructed out of 12" thick granite blocks each weighing about 10 tons. the side and back walls are made of concrete covered with gunite to withstand the continuous striking of the rock hard ball which travels at speeds of up to 150 m.p.h. The patrons are protected from the ball by wire mesh and every part of the game is visible from all seats in the Fronton.
The game is easy to understand because it is regulated by the shortest set of rules governing a game involving the throwing of a ball. The ball or Pelota is hurled against the front wall of the playing court by players who wear wicker baskets 'Cestas' which are made to their specifications. The size of the cesta may vary depending on whether the player is playing back court or front court. Singles and Doubles game, as in tennis, are played and the players - pairs for doubles - in each game play in rotation to a predetermined number of points. A point is won when the opposition cannot return the ball to the front wall. Basically the rules are: The Pelotas' service bounce must be between two designated lines on the court floor for it to be good. The pelota must be caught by the opposing player after not more than one bounce on the floor. The pelota need not bounce at all and it can bounce off the walls as many times as a player can negotiate. The catching and throwing of the pelota must be one completely integrated and continuous motion. This is an oversimplified explanation of a game that incorporates the finesse of a tennis placement, is faster than handball, requires the exact timing of golf and must be seen to realise the thrills it can elicit. The controlled speed of Jai Alai is really beautiful to watch.
Jai Alai is played in Spain, Italy, France, Belgium, Mexico, Cuba, The Philippines, South America, U.S.A., and later this year it will be played in Indonesia. While some type of wagering would take place in most countries, betting would not be on the same scale as it is in Florida, U.S.A., where it is conducted the same as on Horse or Greyhound racing. In Florida - only state to legalise betting on Jai Alai - there are six Frontons and because of the rewards and conditions most players whether from the Basque country, Mexico or anywhere else want to play there.
The totalisator betting facilities at four of the Frontons in Florida - Dania, Miami, Orlando, and Daytona Beach - are provided by our subsidiary, Automatic Totalisators (U.S.A.) Ltd. WIN, PLACE, SHOW, QUINELLA and PERFECTA or CORRECTA betting pools are operated on almost every game and in addition a DAILY DOUBLE and BIG Q are operated at each matinee and evening performance. We have covered all these pools with the exception of the Big Q in previous issues of Tote Topics. The Big Q is picking two consecutive winning quinellas. It is an entirely individual form of wagering. The bettor selects a quinella choice in one game and if a winner, must exchange the ticket at no additional cost for a quinella combination in the second game. Indication is provided to allow the public to follow the trend of betting throughout the entire betting period. The maximum number of post positions - starters as in racing - is eight and for ease of identification each number has a colour and players wear a coloured shirt to match the appropriate post position. The points score, results and dividends for all pools are also displayed on the same indicator which is positioned above the court and is clearly visible from all seats in the Fronton.
Although Jai Alai is related to racing by way of its totalisator betting nature, the sport is different in many ways. It has been said a different type of people watch Jai Alai and generally the fan is not a gambler; he or she is looking for an evening of entertainment and the per capita figures bear this out. Big money is not bet at jai Alai because there is a handicapping problem and this is the reason for the tote turnover being almost entirely Quinella, Perfecta and other combination pools.
The player' manager and match maker, who holds a position similar to that of a racing secretary in horse racing has the difficult task of assigning the players to post positions and games for the evenings programme. The leading players are assigned the higher number, the more difficult post positions, thus the players in the lower number positions have an advantage as they have the earliest opportunity to serve or receive and can attempt to amass points. Handicapping is difficult due to the type of information available. Information such as blood line for horses and greyhounds is pertinent in racing but of course has no relevance in professional athletic competition. Therefore the only information used by the handicapper in Jai Alai is the player's past record which is not conclusive by any means.
A strict control is maintained over all players to ensure that they must play to win at all times and Frontons maintain a world-wide investigation service and each candidate is thoroughly screened and investigated, not only as to his ability but as to character and reputation before a contract is offered.
The success of any totalisator betting sport, including horse and greyhound racing and Jai Alai depends on public conviction that the game is fair. The thrilling Basque game has proved this by its incredible acceptance in Florida, U.S.A. and other countries.
The writer of the above article has signed J.F.P. I wrote to John Pickering, ex ATL Marketing Manager to see if he is J.F.P. John wrote the following:
Tote Topics was one of my responsibilities and the article on Jai Alai was written by me. My initials are JFP - full name John Francis Pickering. My job was to get people to write articles and then have it produced. I had very little budget so it was a low cost production. It was sent by mail to all our clients.I have included the following image as Dania Fronton is mentioned in the article above. Additionally it shows what Jai Alai being played looks like.
Jai Alai at Dania Fronton
Joe Brandon, who worked for Autotote wrote the following in 1999 about Dania Fronton shown above: I started with Autotote in 1974 at Dania Jai Alai. Ted Taylor (from London) was my boss. I cut my teeth on the J8. I'm now the manager at Atlantic City. At the time we were still owned by Premier Equipment.
|Some Listed Installations|
As this chapter has turned out to be a travelogue of ATL's global exploits it left me thinking that I would like to find articles relating to some other interesting countries where ATL had customers. Apart from the locations covered on this page, there are other pages in this website dedicated to the United States, Caracas representing South America and Harringay representing England so I was satisfied with them. I have been unable to find anything on some countries I find interesting like Ireland and India. Failing finding any specific articles I have presented a list of customers in these countries that are not mentioned elsewhere on this site. I have also included some of the small list entries of interest. It illustrates the diverse regions of our planet from whence ATL's customers came. It is also interesting to note that of all countries in this document, New Zealand has the greatest number of installations with 134 list entries. I do not know what year this document was produced however I will hazard a guess at late 1970s.
Customer names prefixed with a * are computer tote installations, all others are Julius Tote electromechanical systems.
|Bellybunion Greyhound Racing Club Ltd - Kerry||  The Boyne Valley Greyhound Racing Co. - Meath||  Clonmel Greyhound Racing Co. Ltd. - Tipperary|
|Cork Greyhound Race Co. Ltd. - Cork||  The Dublin Greyhound & Sports Association Ltd. - Dublin||  Dundealgan Greyhound Racing Co. Ltd. - Louth|
|Enniscorthy Greyhound Racing Co. Ltd. - Wexford||  Kilkenny Greyhound Racing Co. Ltd. - Kilkenny||  The Kingdom Greyhound Racing Co. Ltd. - Kerry|
|Lifford Greyhound Racing Co. - Donegal||  Limerick Greyhound Racing Track Ltd. - Limerick||  Mullinger Greyhound Racing Co. Ltd. - Westmeath|
|Shelbourne Greyhound Stadium Limited - Dublin||  Thurles Greyhound Racing & Sport Association Ltd. - Tipperary||  Waterford Greyhound Racing Track Ltd. - Waterford|
|Youghal Greyhound Race Co. Limited - Cork||  Longford Sports Limited - Longford|
Webmaster's note: following is an observation regarding the J8 TIMs in use in Ireland from Chris Robertson, the most informed punter on the subject of totalisator systems I know.
An interesting place to watch the J8 in action was at Ireland's greyhound tracks. The machines were configured to sell win, place and forecast (exacta) at all windows. This could be done because, as in the U.K., Irish greyhound field sizes were limited to six runners. The first six positions on the dial's arc were occupied by the numbers 1 through 6, and the next fifteen by the various possible combinations, starting with 1-2, 1-3, 1-4, 1-5, 1-6, 2-3, 2-4 and so on. If the customer wanted a forecast with the higher number winning, the button was depressed in the 'place' mode. A boxed combination was sold as an 'each way' bet. I saw the J8 at Cork, Waterford and Dublin's Shelbourne Park; while earlier Julius machines were in action at Dublin's Harold's Cross (as at London's White City). This was way back in 1979.
I still have the J8 forecast tickets. And the Julius totalisator tickets from Wembley, White City (both in London) and Harold's Cross (Dublin).
My J8 Ticket Issuing Machine pamphlet gives the following information regarding pools.
The different combinations of pools that can be operated from a J8 Ticket Issuing Machine are:--
When the machine is required to sell other than on 24 starters Win and Place, the selector quadrant on the cover of the machine is changed as well as the printing type wheel in the machine.
- 24 Starters, Win, Place
- 12 Starters, Win, Place, Show
- 10 Starters, Quinella
- 8 Starters, Double
- 8 Starters, Forecast
The doubles application requires 64 permutations, so there must have been some trick to being able to handle all those, especially as you can't reverse 1-1, 2-2, and so on.
The Irish greyhound application of the machine is beyond the manufacturer's stated expectations of its capability. It would be interesting to know where the idea to sell singles and combinations at the same time came from. It cut down the number of machines (and operators) required to service a meeting; as well as providing bettors the opportunity to place all their bets at the one window. No doubt this meant increased betting handle.
The paper used does not look like normal ATL ticket paper. There is no mention of the company's name, no paper code and none of the coloured zig-zag lines. Paper colour was changed each race. The ticket values are interesting as well. I have one ticket that is for Irish punts £1.50. The lowest value tickets were for 20p (Irish pence). At that time (1979) all dividends in the U.K. and Ireland where declared for a 10p stake, though the minimum ticket denomination at any particular course was invariably higher.
On a later visit to Ireland (1989) French PMC machines were in use at the gallops, and greyhound tracks were using equipment I haven't seen elsewhere.
Webmaster's Note: Chris Robertson later, in January 2016, provided images of tickets that he wrote of above, regarding Wembley and White City both in London and Shelbourne Park and Harold's Cross both in Dublin as well as some in Cork. What I find particularly interesting about Chris' tickets is that they illustrate that the Julius Totes listed in company documents are not some figment, but are actual systems. There actually were 17 of these Julius totes operating in Ireland alone, according to the Eire list above.
White City, Wembley, Harolds Cross tickets
Chris purchased all three tickets above in 1979. The White City and Wembley tickets shown above on the left, come from systems recorded in the list of installations titled Julius Tote Installations in the UK in the the fourth page of the Bygone World's Largest Totes chapter in the Posthumously section. To view this, select the Go to the index button in the Nav Bar at the bottom of this page and select the suggested chapter then scroll down to the bottom of the page and select the Next page button four times and then scroll down to the suggested heading.
White City and Wembley are listed there as WHITE CITY STADIUM London England and EMPIRE STADIUM Wembley England. One of the Julius Tote installations in the list titled Eire (Ireland) above, is The Dublin Greyhound & Sports Association Ltd. - Dublin. This organisation traded as Harold's Cross Greyhound Stadium which is where Chris' third ticket shown above was purchased.
The above tickets were purchased during Chris' same visit to the UK in 1979. One of the Julius Tote installations in the list of Eire installations above, is Shelbourne Greyhound Stadium Limited - Dublin and this produced the ticket above on the left. Another Julius Tote in the above list, at Cork Greyhound Race Co. Ltd. - Cork produced the two tickets on the right. It is 37 years since these tickets were issued!
Shelbourne Park and Cork tickets
|*Penang Turf Club - Penang||  *Perak Turf Club - Ipoh||  *Selangor Turf Club - Kuala Lumpur|
|Sarawak Turf Club - Kuching||  *Royal Sabah Turf Club - Kota Kinabalu|
As this page in general presents a globe trotting view of totalisator history I have presented this following anecdote and tickets by Chris Robertson here. Autotote, which Chris mentions was ATL's American subsidiary company.
Chris Robertson's Seoul Tickets
Autotote had a ticket issuing system similar to ATL's J25's during the late 1980's. They had the most sophisticated multi-trifecta software I have ever come across. They also had self betting terminals which randomly awarded free vouchers. I think I might have abused this service by putting my bets on in a way that required the machine to print more tickets than were strictly necessary. Shifty Aussie! I also saw those terminals in West Berlin in 1989, and Seoul in 1991.
Top ticket is a standout exacta with the bet repeated on the same ticket. I had no idea what I was doing at the windows in Korea. The currency is the Won, about 500 to the Australian dollar at the time. The bottom ticket is 100 Won to win, or it could be to place.
Chris mentions Autotote's ticket issuing system similar to ATL's J25. By 1991 when Chris purchased these tickets, ATL had sold its subsidiary Autotote. However a new sister relationship was established between the two companies and they shared the globes markets and shared technologies. I suspect these machines were probably more alike than just similar. From a computer hardware perspective, I cannot tell the difference between these Seoul tickets and Chris' Mariendorf tickets above, from those produced by a J25. Chris' bottom ticket in the image titled "Chris Robertson's tickets from South Africa" is a J25 ticket.
|The Royal Turf Club of Thailand|
On the left is Chris Robertson's Royal Turf Club Thailand Ticket, Chris wrote: This ticket is from Bangkok's Royal Turf Club Thailand racecourse.Unusual paper code. The meeting was held on Sunday 5 January 1986.
As it is impractical to chase information on so many list entries, I have presented a quick observation of one of the race clubs mentioned above. Neville Mitchell sent me an email in December 2014 remembering an installation in Thailand. He attached a PDF file probably created by Ron Bird ex Control Data Australia (CDA), about their tote installation at this club which was a combined contract with ATL providing TIMs (Ticket Issuing Machines) and Indicators and CDA providing the rest of the tote system including the transaction processors. They have had a link from their website to mine for many years and I have recently included a link from the links page in this website to the CDA website. Selecting this link there is an index on the CDA website where the PDF file mentioned above can be found.
In this text, Neville is referring to the Julius Tote which pre-dated the CDA system. Interestingly it appears to be a view of the Julius tote after it has outlived its expected lifespan and consequently is operating under loads not envisaged by the designers of the system. As some Julius totes operated for around half a century I suspect this was not a unique occurrence.
I was browsing through my document file deleting lots of defunct unwanted stuff and I came upon this article on the 1971 Royal Turf Club Of Thailand's new Tote. I was working in Thailand at the Royal Bangkok Sports Club in late 1969. I spent a few race days at the RTC with the president . Luckily I was able to spend many race events watching the Julius tote in action. Compared with Australian race day tote operation this was amazing.The adders were running so fast it created an oily mist requiring the machine housing windows to be cleaned regularly. The adder alarms were always blinking, an operator sat at one end of the W/P tote machine controlling the adder input shaft speed just enough to keep the adder alarm from stopping the machine. This operator also manually entered the race grand totals to the indicator via a set of rotary switches. A busy lad was this chap! There was no indicator, ticket totals were regularly written onto pre printed sensitised sheets then photo copied for runners to quickly place the printed sheets on notice boards around the grandstand. The copy machines were 3M, no ink the characters were actually burnt by high voltage sparks?
The President was a dedicated beer drinker as well as a keen punter. He was ex army and the RTC was run by the army. It was not unusual to see many army vehicles in the car park, Jeeps, personnel carriers and large trucks. Once I saw a tracked machine. I was pleased to find two pictures of My Boss and dear friend Peter Rolls.That cheeky grin and his generally unflappable nature was a great source of confidence when he would throw me into the deep end of each of my projects.
It is interesting to note that The Royal Turf Club of Thailand continued to use the Julius J8s as the on-course ticket issuing machine up until October 1995.
|History of Horse Racing In Australia|
Following is an article in Tote Topics number 24 published December 1968. It is not about the totalisator, however I have included it here for what is probably the reason it was included in Tote Topics in the first place, and that is it relates the history of the industry on which the racecourse totalisator depends. The article begins with Season's Greetings and it is curious to note that the number of the magazine when combined with the month it was published, identifies Christmas Eve.
It is known that horse racing took place in England about AD.210, when Arabian horses brought over by Emperor Septimus Leverus Alexander were matched against the others at Netherby in Yorkshire. And of course horse-racing was even older than that meeting - before the coming of the Romans to Britain. As early as men tamed and bestrode horses, they raced them.
Remembering this, many would say that Australia has a short racing record. But, viewed in the modern sense, the first race for the English Derby took place at Epsom in May, 1780, which was only eight years before the establishment of Sydney and thirty years before the first Hyde Park meeting in Sydney. The English St. Leger is the oldest classic race; it was first run in 1776.
No one knows when the first horse race took place in Australia because this record has been lost, but we can be certain that mounted contests took place before the meetings of 1810, which are the earliest on record. Undeniably, quite a number of private matches were staged, both with saddle and gig horses, before an actual race meeting took place. Most of the early matches were run on the Parramatta and Windsor roads.
By 1805 the first stock of several improved sires was under saddle, and in that year we read that a goanna (large lizard) outran a race horse in the Hawkesbury district. There was a recognised raceground located in the Windsor-Richmond area. Details handed down disclose that this was probably located on Ham Common and in close proximity to the present day Hawkesbury race-course. Neighbours from the river settlements were the first racegoers but unfortunately no records exist now of these early Richmond races.
The Hyde Park three-day meeting held in October, 1810, is regarded as Australia's first official race meeting and during the following fifty years horse-racing underwent many changes. Turf Clubs were formed and disbanded and many courses were cleared, improved and later abandoned. However, by June, 1860, when regular racing at Randwick commenced, the sport had outgrown these early dangers so inseparable from the growth of a young nation, and was firmly established in all States.
The first racing club was established in Australia in 1825 and was known as the Sydney Turf Club, not to be confused with the present Sydney Turf Club formed in 1943. The Sydney Turf Club preceded its contemporary in Van Diemen's Land, the Tasmanian Turf Club, by a year, although racing of a sort had taken place in Tasmania since 1814. The first Tasmanian Turf Club was formed in April 1826, and thereafter, as new Settlements were established, so racing clubs sprang up. The first meetings near Perth took place in late 1833. The first Adelaide meeting was held on January, 1838, while Melbourne meetings commenced the same year. The first Queensland meeting took place in 1843 within twelve months of that State being opened for general settlement.
To-day there are about eight hundred jockey, racing and hunt clubs in Australia, all of which hold regular meetings. Some clubs may hold a meeting but once a year, while others have full year-round programmes, as in the capital cities and in certain important country racing centres. From the humble beginning in 1810, when the sport was almost entirely amateur, horse racing has grown to such an extent that to-day twenty-five thousand people throughout Australia are professionally connected with the Turf.
One important factor that influenced early horse racing in Australia was the type of horses available for racing. The first import of horses was a consignment of one stallion, three mares and three yearlings which came with the First Fleet in January 1788. The biggest improvement in horse stock prior to 1825 was effected by an influx of Arabs brought from Persia via India. Since 1825, when racing was well established, stock has been imported mainly from England. Although to-day Australian breeders favour imported blood to afford them greater chances of stud success, breeding records have shown that local-bred stallions are also capable of greatness. To-day the practical use of Arabs is restricted to the breeding of stock horses, show hacks and saddle horses.
Many fine mares have been brought to Australia since 1825 and to-day there are some 11,000 pure bred mares returned annually to the Australian Stud Book. Their pedigrees are impeccable for a century or more.
There will always be newcomers bringing change of blood and new successes in their own lines, and each stallion leaves his mark on the Australian thoroughbred.
In Australia now some 5,000 pure-bred racehorses are born each Spring, some 16,000 are in work each year, and the sport that was born in Sydney's Hyde Park with a mere handful of half-bred ponies is to-day a business employing many thousands of people associated with the rearing and racing of thoroughbreds. Australia has more pure bred horses and holds at least twice the number of race meetings throughout the year compared with England - the birthplace of the racing thoroughbred. The first (and only) Epsom Derby contestant, Chester's son Kirham, has been followed overseas by a very large company of good performers on the world's racetracks.
The thoroughbred has become internationalised, and the Australian racehorse of to-day is as fine and pure as any in the world.
(reprinted from Turf Cavalcade by courtesy of the Australian Jockey Club)
That is the end of this article in Tote Topics magazine. As it was published 45 years ago it is now presented courtesy of the Australian Turf Club and the Author, Mr Douglas Barrie
|Final anecdotes from Rex Turner|
Following is a couple of anecdotes that demonstrate the bizarre sort of problems one encounters visiting customer premises in so many different countries with differing cultures, priorities and procedures. I have presented them here as this page more than any other, demonstrates the variety of countries in which Automatic Totalisators Limited had customers. Rex Turner as a Project Engineer of this company, travelled far and wide and worked on several of the projects mentioned in this page as well as others. In the interests of political correctness I have not identified which projects of Rex's these events relate to and have not provided full names. Following is Rex's first anecdote:
I needed a sign-off and no one present had the authority to do it. Realising it was a problem that may not get done I made a bit of a fuss. One of the staff decided to help and took me out of the area to the nearest town. We went into a clothing shop to a wardrobe; into the wardrobe and out through the back into a tunnel. After travelling quite a way we entered a gambling Den which caused a small pandemonium until the man we were after recognised me. I got my piece of paper signed and off we went back to the racecourse.
The following two paragraphs are Rex's second anecdote:
There was unrest among the racing club staff; it was gradually getting worse, I could find nothing to indicate the cause. Eventually I learned from Joseph a Totalisator Engineer that none of the staff had been paid. As a final recourse they had clearly decided that I may be able to help. Six weeks they had been working for me, they received no remuneration.
On learning of this I went to see one of the brothers managing the club and confronted him over this allegation. Informing him if this was not done immediately I was on the next plane for Sydney and before leaving would pay everyone myself. They were paid.
Rex describes finishing up with the Baghdad project when he was caught up in a war in the memories of the factory continued chapter of this website under the heading Baghdad - Al Furusya Club - Al Mansur. I have included a paragraph here, from that description of his harrowing experience getting home:
The Baghdad hotel seemed to be in a state of unrest, a 24 hour curfew had been imposed. Tank tracks were visible as we were chauffeured to Al Mansur next day. We heard a political party had been exterminated; the emerging Saddam Hussain's Ba'ath party was flexing its muscles. However life seemed to continue without further interruption. I never witnessed the Israeli fighter which was apparently shot down above Baghdad. As a result our rooms were changed to be closer to the ground; most of the lighting was switched off and candles used in the passageways. Another race meeting, the third, was completed without incident and my time was over on this project.
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