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Working section of an electro-mechanical tote

Made in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, 1948.

The first successful automatic totalisator was an Australian innovation invented by engineer George Julius. After the sale of the first Tote to the Auckland Jockey Club which was installed in 1913, Julius establish Automatic Totalisator Ltd (ATL) in 1917 the most successful Totalisator company in what became a thriving international industry. This Australian company was the leader in the field for 65 years producing mechanical, electromechanical, then computer based tote systems for race tracks ...


Object No.


Object Statement

Totalisator, reconstructed working fragment and other parts, electromechanical, steel / wood / Bakelite / electrical components, made by Automatic Totalisators Limited (ATL), Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, 1948, reconstructed by Bob Moran, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, 2004

Physical Description

Totalisator, reconstructed working fragment and other parts, electromechanical, steel / wood / Bakelite / electrical components, made by Automatic Totalisators Limited (ATL), Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, 1948, reconstructed by Bob Moran, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, 2004

Main unit consists of a metal angle iron frame which supports banks of 5 adding units on each side of the frame. Each side has four units (one for each horse) and a grand total unit. The adding unit is connected to a drive shaft driven by a DC motor also mounted on the frame. Between each side (bank of adding units) there are a series of criss-cross metal strip which are what is most conspicuous part of the odds calculating mechanism. The strips are connected through strings to a transfer box (servo motor) which delivers the odds to the larger scale, mounted on top of the frame in the working demonstration, but which went to the barometer indicator, part of the original tote house.

Ticket machine - is an ATL J8 ticket machine wooden box with a hinged stainless steel top, a slot to ticket appear from, a Bakelite arm which can be moved through an arc by the operator to select one of 24 horses. There is a button on the arm to select win or place. The ticket machine has a hole underneath to feed the paper for the ticket into the printing mechanism

Trolley for ticket machine aqua painted metal trolly table with a shelf and a hole cut in the top and strips of aluminium used to clamp down the ticket machine. This is not part of the original machine but should be retained because it can be used to mount a ticket machine when preparing it for operation. and with the paper tape hole and retaining strips is too useful to be disposed of. Xobject?

6 spare ticket machines - these should be retained as spare parts.

3 boxes of spare parts including electrical components


On the motors



2200 mm


1900 mm



The ATL Totalisator was originally invented in 1912 by George Julius who founded ATL to produce and market totes world wide. ATL engineers including George Julius and his son Audrey continued to improve various aspects of the Tote's design, notably introducing electricity in 1917, continually improving ticket machines, introducing automatic odds indicators, devising totes of various sizes to suit different tracks. The Tote from which the working model is reconstructed was the last of the electromechanical totes produced by ATL ( and according to some of the retired engineers this meant that it was perfect) . These models were last produced from the late 1940s to the early 1960s when they were superseded by computer based totes

All ATL totes after 1945 were manufactured at the ATL plant at Meadowbank in Sydney.



In 1996 a team from the Powerhouse Museum went to the Broadmeadow racetrack at Newcastle. We were asked to assist the Newcastle Regional Museum staff to assess the Tote machine which was still in the old tote house run by the Newcastle Jockey Club. We were also accompanied by Assoc Prof Allan Bromley from the Basser Department of Computer Science at Sydney University.

We spent the day disassembling the Tote so that the NRM staff could take a section comprising the win and place tote for 4 horses with none of the external odds indication technology (which was effectively part of the building). The Museum acquired a few components being examples of technology that we didn't have in the collection at that time. (97/21).

When Carey Ward and I(Matthew Conn ell) were about to leave Allan Bromley indicated that he intended to stay and take a couple more photographs before he too headed back to Sydney. Some days later we received a call from Allan confessing that he had been unable to leave the rest of the tote behind to be sent to the scrap metal merchant, that he had hired a trailer and brought what he could fit in the trailer back to his house in Sydney, and that the parts were neatly stacked in his kitchen.

In 2000 Allan was diagnosed with cancer and died in 2002. Just before he died Alan asked Mr Bob Moran, an engineer who owned a precision engineering company (Precision Dynamics P/L), if he would take the tote and reassemble part of it for the TAB who were keen to set up a museum. Bob took the parts and started to look at building the working model when the TAB decided not to proceed.

I heard from Bob that he was planning to dispose of the machine when we had just decided to proceed with the exhibition 'Gambling in Australia' . We commissioned Bob to complete the reconstruction so that we could have a working tote in the exhibition. It went into the exhibition and was demonstrated initially regularly but less so as it became less reliable.

It should be noted that when the tote was eventually taken out of Allan's kitchen, the floor had sunk about 15 cm, pushing the piers into the dirt. New foundations were made for the floor when the kitchen was renovated in 2001.

The Broadmeadows Tote was installed in the early 1950s and remained in operation until November 1979. At this point ATL which had been bought by the Smorgan company was taken over by AWA who were building computer based systems. The electromechanical system had been used in parallel with the new computer until the computer was fully commissioned.

The tote was left unattended in the old tote house until the mid 1990s when it was decided to turn the Totehouse building into an equine hospital.


Credit Line

Purchased 2006

Acquisition Date

10 July 2006

Cite this Object


Working section of an electro-mechanical tote 2018, Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, accessed 26 June 2019, <>


{{cite web |url= |title=Working section of an electro-mechanical tote |author=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences |access-date=26 June 2019 |publisher=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, Australia}}


This object record is currently incomplete. Other information may exist in a non-digital form. The Museum continues to update and add new research to collection records.

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