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A few stories and Email Correspondence
By Don McKenzie My Early Tote Years - 1976-1988 | Industry Links | Acknowledgements | Julius History | A Few Stories |

People Profiles | The Staff transfer from ATL to the TAB 1988 | TABLOID ATL Staff Photos 1989-1990 | Recent Photos | Email Correspondence | Win Place & Sting |

Betting Terminals in search of a good home. An Email from Ron Cooper 22-April-2010

Email Correspondence
Chris Roberston 27-Dec-2009 | Peter Collier 13-Jan-2010 | Kevin Johnston 11-Feb-2010 | Howard Lilley 2-Apr-2010 | Bob Doran 24-May-2010 | Cliff Ellen 30-January-2011 | Graeme Twycross 5-February-2011 | Mick Gulovsen 6-Feb-2011 | Chris Roberston 16-Mar-2011 | Chris Roberston 18-Mar-2011 | Ros Dyer 19-Mar-2011 | Peter Collier 22-Mar-2011 | Ron Parkinson 12-Jan-2012 | Peter Nelson 12-Feb-2012 | Elliott Roper 27-Feb-2012 | Kingsley Bruce 9-May-2012 |

Additions and Corrections
I was wondering what was the best way of handling additions and corrections that interested parties sent to me via email. I decided to post them on this page, minus any personal information that wasn't meant for reproduction.

Once integrated into the story pages, I have linked back to the original emails as reproduced below:

Chris Roberston 27-Dec-2009


Jim let me know that you had started a sight dedicated to ATL in Victoria. I hope you don't mind me offering some comments or alternate recollections. You are free to do with them what you will.

I can't match your 'tote wallpaper', but I've collected tote tickets from around the world and stuck them in a stamp album. At least I paid for mine! Unfortunately I was better at keeping tickets from tracks I was visiting, while neglecting those closer to home. No novelty keeping tickets that anyone can pick up from the ground at any racecourse! So I have a better record of ATL operations interstate and overseas than here in Melbourne. And I could kick myself for not keeping tickets from the TAB's Rimfire and Crisp

Anyway I'm glad someone is documenting such a pivitol era in this state's wagering history. The racing museum that has just closed it's doors at Federation Square was a major disapointment in that it neglected the Tote. But then again the racing industry has long had a penchant for pretending that gambling is not its main business.

Best wishes for the new year. I still get to the races semi regullarly, but there are fewer and fewer recognisable faces either side of the windows these days.
Cheers for now,


> The Tracks The tracks we serviced when I started were Flemington, Moonee
> Valley, Caulfield, Sandown, Showground Trots, Olympic Park Dogs, Sandown Dogs,
> Mornington, Pakenham, Yarra Glen, Cranbourne, Colac, Echuca, Sale, and
> Shepparton. Jim and Ray covered many other small country tracks in the mobile
> tote, which was a complete J8 portable tote mounted in a semi trailer.

The Echuca and Shepparton venues were Trots. There is a separate Echuca racecourse that ATL did not service. Seymour should be included in the above list. Control Systems didn't take over from ATL at Seymour until the early 1980's. Seymour Cup Day (10 September 1980) was the last time I saw ATL there.

The last meeting where the J18 (MPV & TDQ) were used in Victoria might have been 9 February 1983, Colac Cup Day. By then the J25's had been introduced to the Port Phillip District Clubs that ATL serviced; and Noreast Totes, Control Systems and Gippsland Regional Tote had carved up the rest of the state.

> J25T Our first batch of J25s were the "T" version, pictured right. We got
> about 70 of these, and had to cut out special bench spaces to fit them into a
> tote window, as much of the machine was designed below knee level. Possibly
> designed by a committee of zookeepers, who had never seen a racecourse, let
> alone a tote. Took two men to lift it, and it would never pack easily into a
> truck for transportation.
> J25A Phil White, an ATL Sydney Engineer, re-packaged the J25T into the J25A,
> pictured left. Used the same components, just a different layout, and a new
> case. Existing benches needed very little modification. We sold the 70 odd
> J25Ts to South Africa. I remember teaching Tony and Tony (from South Africa)
> as much as we could, about the terminals and the PDP 11/34 control equipment,
> during their 2 weeks stay with us. We only ever installed J25Ts at Olympic
> Park dog track.

I saw the J25T in a TAB in Cape Town in September 1983. Makes sense to use them in an environment where they would hardly ever need to be moved.

> J8 Race Change The TIMs also had to be set to race 1. This was done by winding
> the race change solenoid fully anti-clockwise. This also carried the code
> barrel, and was activated from a central control panel. In the ticket example,
> the "RACE 6 HAGUT" is the printing type controlled by the race change solenoid

On two separate occasions at Flemington I was sold tickets bearing the wrong race number and codeword (this was before your time). I can remember a sceptical tote house manager looking at me as though I was from another planet when I tried to collect on the second occasion (the earlier time the bets were no good). Thankfully the papercode vindicated my claim. It turned out that when the machines were locked at the start of the race, the machine I was betting on kept issuing, while jumping forward to next race and

There is more to this story, but it won't make it into print! It was an interstate race, by the way.

> Jimmy, Ray, and The Mobile Tote.   Jim Kennedy and Ray Johnston covered many
> country tracks in the mobile tote, which was a complete twelve window J8
> portable tote mounted in a semi trailer. It had to be driven to each track,
> then set up. They would sometimes drive hundreds of miles, to get to a country
> track. In many cases, just the drive in a semi-trailer was a hard day in
> itself, before setting up and running the tote.

I recall an eight window mobile tote being used for Brisbane during the Winter Carnival at the city tracks until Tote-All was introduced. Similarly an eight window mobile was used at Yarra Glen for the locals, and at Cranbourne, Mornington and Cranbourne when there were more meetings being bet on than could be accomodated by the mainhouse buildings. I have a feeling the vehicle/s were parked at Flemington when not in use, but maybe that was also before your time. These are recollections, not encyclopedic
references, so I stand to be corrected. I do remember twelve window mobile totes operating in NSW, especially at Randwick.

A personal note on Jim Kennedy and Ray Johnston. They form the fondest memories of my early years as a racegoer. Back when there were only one or two meetings a day midweek, there was plenty of time to just 'yack'. I could listen to these two talk for hours and never be bored. They both had a wealth of knowledge, and were generous in disseminating it. I would have learnt even more if I hadn't been laughing so much. They belong to the golden days.

> On Course Professional Punters Ron Parkinson, Chris Robertson, Neil ?, and
> Norm ? are pro punters that readily come to mind.

Neil Rieck and Norm Scott. Norm is still betting at city tracks. Neil lives in Clifton Springs and has dropped off the radar. Ron bets from home inbetween mutterings about the Essendon Football Club's playing group. He rings me from time to time to talk about the current state of Australia's horse race betting. He might not appreciate me paraphrasing him, so you'll have to guess what he thinks of the current deregulated system. We were more recognisable as a 'gang of four' at distant meetings. The locals must have thought us a very odd assortment. They'd have been right.

There are others, but they might value their anonymity. As for the 'gang of four', too late for that now.

 27-Dec-2009 Part of my response back to Chris:

I'll integrate what you have given me into the history story, and welcome anything else you can offer. Re Jimmies mobile tote, I think I only ever worked in it twice when someone was on holidays, and I couldn't remember the number of windows. My memory is shocking for these things these days. I looked at the picture I had (Sydney Tote), and counted what I could see as windows, and came up with a number.

When I started this little write up, I was putting a "?" everywhere, when I was guessing, and it looked bad. So I guessed a surname, or a number, and felt people like Chris will correct me, as it builds up. 


Peter Collier 13-Jan-2010
Peter has sent me some info, and photos recently.

Hi Don
I have found some more photos but will have to sort them out.


Casuals:  Bill Telfer (Bill Telfar), Jack Carnell, Alan Sengotta, Max Davies, Bernie Spence, Les Sellman, Don Brown, Henry Lynch, Max Lynch, Fred Rawiller, George Seivers. Keith Smith. There are more  maybe Harry remembers some.
Permanents : Stan Jones, Arthur Long(was he there when you started)Geoff Illing, Dale Oxtoby.
Clive was working for Datatronics when it was purchased by ATL (remember the VDU with the screen the other way round)
Government Inspectors Malcolm Van Acadi (don’t know how to  spell it) Richard Lachall (His father was Secretary Of VRC)Ross Kennedy
Odds Calculator  Mattie Rainsbury (? Spelling)
Do you remember Elsie Hibberd and Elsie Gardiner? Both Dividend Calculators along with Ross ??? big solid guy.
This could go on forever
Cheers Peter

Kevin Johnston 11-February-2010

Just a small correction to your player profiles under Ray's info Michael ( No.1 son) was a payer at the showgrounds , Brian used to be an oncourse operator on the J25 system for a short time (as was his wife Jan who stayed oncourse a fair bit longer than Brian did) he has been running Tab agencies for the last 20 years or so - currently located at the Ivanhoe branch, as for my lovely sisters Jo & Jen unfortunately they have left the oncourse world of the tote after 24 years service each ( there go all my meals over the spring carnival that they used to feed me), my mother Joan, is the only family member who hasn't worked in the oncourse environment and can't but help feel a little sorry for her losing all of her family on the weekends to the racing world at some point in time.

Ray            '68 - '96  28 years
Michael     '75  - ?    6 - 18  months
Brian         '83 - ?    12 - 18 months
(Mid '80s to present as Tab agent)
Jan             '83 - '86   3 years
Joanne      '84 - '08  24 years
Jennifer     '84 - '08  24 years
Kevin         '80 -        30 years+

Total of 112 years of oncourse service and counting by the Johnston clan.

p.s.  I think that Steven/Stephen Ellen may have had a brief stint on the tote as well if my memory serves me correctly. You might want to check that one with Cliffy on his facebook page (Didn't want to leave a family member out!)

I could have this last fact confused as I recall he was studying medicine at the same time I was living with a couple of med students in the same course and we crossed paths a couple of times.

It's not much fun being the youngest of what was left of the old school.


Howard Lilley EX-General Manager of ATL. Good Friday 2-April-2010

Hi Don - I did a Yahoo search for fun (usually use Google) and up came a website with my name on it and related to the transfer of staff from ATL to VICTAB. I clearly remember that however had no recollection of Julia Gillard being the one at Slater & Gordon. Anyway I thought I would drop you a note just to say hi. Kind Regards - Howard

Thanks and Happy Easter Howard,

I only became aware of the fact after going through some old documentation I was about to shred, when I found her business card. I worked out she was 27 at the time, so it wasn't a bad effort on her behalf. I remember driving her back to the S&G office in the CBD, after one of our meetings at Moonee Valley. I left TABcorp nearly 11 years ago, and I mentioned Julia to the old team, and they all seemed aware that she was involved. So it appears it was only the both of us that have short memories. Well, it was 22 years ago. 

Nice to hear from you, take care,

Cheers Don...


Betting Terminals in search of a good home. An Email from Ron Cooper 22-April-2010

I just received a couple of emails from an old TAB friend, Ron Cooper. Ron served 40 years with the TAB-TABcorp, before he started with Australian Logistical Solutions as Business Development Manager in Feb 2008. In 2009 he was appointed CEO.

I was going to pinpoint a few news snippets from Ron's emails that may be of interest, however it seemed more appropriate if I left it mostly intact, as I'm sure readers would appreciate any news of what we now call the old toties brigade.

From Ron Cooper 22-April-2010

What I outlined in my last email was that in my role as Tabcorp Materials Manager, I "acquired" one betting terminal of every generation, from the 1980's GART back to the 1937 ATL TIM and stored them at Caulfield racetrack. Hopefully they are still there.

I tried unsuccessfully to get them into:

  1. Tabcorp's new building as a foyer display and was told Tabcorp didn't want to "look backwards"
  2. The Powerhouse Museum in Spotswood, but the curator didn't want them at that time.
  3. Into the Racing Museum at Caulfield.
The curator at Caulfield told me there was no room at the Inn at that time, however a new Racing Museum was being built in the "new" Federation Square complex - when they didn't approach me for "my terminals", I became distracted - and technically the terminals are still in an old Tote House out the back of Caulfield.

Last time I touched base with Tabcorp, there were plenty of sweet young things there now  - and very few old faces, however, speaking of "old", Graeme Twycross is back again - permanently now.

One of your ex bosses, Peter Collier, dropped by my works to have a chat a few weeks ago. He seemed full of beans - really enjoying his retirement now.

I spoke to Clive Angus last week - I wanted him to fix a gadget for me. Unfortunately (for me, good for him), he's escaped. He and his wife moved to Deniliquin I think he said, certainly NSW, to be near their son. To keep his pockets full, he's driving a van for a local chapter of Scope - he may have volunteered... However their Master Plan is to travel around Australia in their Winnebago (or similar).

From my old department, only Nick, my Purchasing Officer remains. My Asst Mgr, Dan Carland was retrenched 3yrs ago. In the interim, he (Dan) managed to get a contract job in the Wagering Systems Assurance area for about 2 years - now Tabcorp chucked out all the contractors just leaving the permanents, (Peta Doherty and her team).

My old manager, Richard Posa - Group GM Procurement, was retrenched, as recently was Sandra Kinsella, GM WAG SYS Ops. Martin Nicolls, Keith Pakenham (now CFA Photographer), Mario Attard (Now Telstra), Themis Tseros (Now Project Managing with Telstra), Ed Kotnik (not sure - he had a job in a mate's hardware shop last time we spoke) all were also retrenched.

Can't recall what I heard about Marty Nicolls recently. Last time I actually spoke to him, he was managing a GH track in Gippsland, but he's changed occupations recently....can't recall - it was something odd - maybe he went back to Tabcorp as a tech... no can't remember.

Gotta go Don.

Hope your business and life in general is going well for you.
If you are interested in the old terminals, I can show/give them to you - or at least where I left  them.

PS. CST - Control Systems was the old Gippsland tote - they only used an XT computer and a pad modem. I can't remember any actual terminals.

PPS. A few years ago, I asked Peter Crozier (still at Tabcorp) to cut off a chunk of the Mornington ATL Julius Tote machine on the 1st floor of the main totehouse. The Secretary of the Mornington Racetrack promised to contact Cro when they pulled off the front of the totehouse, (the piece Cro's lads cut off was too big to go down the narrow stairs). Push came to shove and the building was bulldozed and of course Cro wasn't advised. Next thing I heard was that the whole meccano set went to Smorgon's for scrap - what a crime!

I had a piece of video tape showing the Julius Tote in situ. I "loaned" it to Peter Collier and did not get it back before he was retrenched, so can only hope he still has the copy.

Footnote Update From Peter Collier 30-April-2010

Got an email from Clive the other day, he is still living in Vermont and driving a bus for a charity. His son is in Brisbane and his daughter and grandchild are in Melbourne, so I don’t know why
Ron Cooper thought he had moved to Deniliquin.

Bob Doran 24-May-2010
Article by Bob: The First Automatic Totalisator

Hi Don,

Thanks for the swift reply.

I have developed an interest in the totes, stemming from finding out about the first ATL machine here at Auckland in 1913. I hope to soon have some web pages with descriptions of what I have found. I keep in contact with Brian Conlon but your pages were a recent surprise discovery - lots of good information.

Mostly I am interested in pre-1960 but there is some overlap. Just recently some parts of the NZ totemobiles turned up on our auction web-sites and I have talked to Merv Smith who ran the totemobile out of Wanganui starting in 1950. So I did want to include something about these. Your web-site has lots of information and pickies but I think that the mobile totes here were a bit older. Not sure though. A lot of your info came from Peter Collier - I wonder whether you could put in touch with him for an e-chat?

Merv gave me the attached picture of the totemobile compared to his wife's fiat - I think that it was 1950 vintage though the picture was in the 60s.

Cheers,   Bob


Cliff Ellen 30-January-2011

Greetings Don, and congratulations on your informative tote site.

It appears I’ll never get around to making time to record my 36 years as a casual Totie. Always (seemingly) too busy. I write two 800 word columns every month for the Southern Peninsula News, also presently rehearsing a community play, and as I live alone there’s all those necessary daily chores, such as morning coffee at the local coffee shop [1 hour], Woolworths shopping, RSL [2-3 pots after 4pm] etc etc. Nevertheless, a few comments from another perspective...

I had a great affection for my 35 years on the Tote. I found it a perfect foil to my first love (the stage) which, although unrecorded on the net, was to take up the greater part of my acting career. The beauty of the convenience of learning lines on the job, taking 3 months off for a play and returning to regular income. I managed some 55 productions in those 35 years. TV and film became a minor interest because of the much bigger money for a day’s work. The stage work presented a challenge, whereas film, TV and the Tote were easy peasy, free lunches, good company (with occasional enemies) and good money.

I was a dividend calculater for years up until the introduction of the new system in the van, where Frank Dowdle put me into a week’s training alongside Sandra Kinsella and Val Farrell. Prior to this I mainly worked with Steve Smith from a tote house where we would get the computerised figures (from the old van) and back to the tote house to calculate etc. I quickly woke to the ambitions of Kinsella & Farrell and wanted “out”. Besides, you weren’t allowed to smoke. Hence my switch to supervising, as in slightly less pay, smokos, lunches and complete freedom. (Note: Frank understood, a nice fellow, and put Steve Smith in my place. I warned Steve, but he was super confident and ignored me. The girls destroyed him.) Eventually of course they introduced newer machines and somebody got the bright idea that supervisers should learn to operate them. Even Rossy Baker had to learn? Harry Lane, who, like Peter Collier had some reason to dislike me, was on my case to learn. I ignored this bullshit. I think I left in 1994. My enemies were mounting, in fact were salivating in the idea of bringing me down a peg or two, particularly Valda Jakobsen, heavily instructed by Mike Ryan. I didn’t run away, in fact I enjoyed the pressure of a good fight, but I had some 4 months work lined up in a play which included touring Adelaide, Sydney and Canberra.

I also enjoyed my years in the tote union, beating the bosses on many occasions and fighting for the rights of the country staff. Overall I had a wonderful time with so many nice people. I estimate I had something in the vicinity of 30 good friends among my co-workers, too many to name names. I had some bosses, some of which were incompetent so shall remain nameless. Of the other...namely Tony Manion (top shelf); Peter Kenyon (OK, but could be tough on the frontline workers); George King, who put me on the “favoured” list and was a genius in all things Tote; Robin Bone, a personal friend who was ever so loyal, but a shade too serious, and of course Harry Lane who was “treading water” for his first two years but came good up to a point. He had a quick temper so it was very easy to get him going “off”. Of the mechanics (or technicians as you liked to call them) we were very lucky. Arthur Gardiner and Jimmy Kennedy were great mates to me. Later you (Don McKenzie), and of course Michael Higgins, Peter Nelson if I ignored his right wing fascist leanings, Mark Dyball and Lovely lovely Ray Johnston. There were others before your time and some strange goings on in the old days of the Totemobile. I mustn’t leave out the personality and company of two government inspectors, namely Malcolm Van Arkadi and Jack (Doc) Mannix, with a special mention for Richard Lachall. I have many many stories, but maybe, a big maybe, another day. As for Wikipedia I have no idea who put the information on me there. One day I’ll take the time to learn how to edit it, perhaps?


Graeme Twycross 5-February-2011
Graeme Twycross Tote Van Pictures 5-February-2011

Hi Don,
How is it going, l am still working to pay the flood and cyclone levys !
I have found your link to the Victorian Tote History. Well done, what you have put together and now it seems you are getting some contributors is tremendous.
I have attached a document that you maybe able to use in some form, l know these sorts of things take some effort to put together, it is worthwhile in the end though.
A small correction to the following sentence from Mark Dyballs section:

I think I have this fact correct. Only two Technicians married tote sellers. Mick married Sue, and Mark married Yvonne. Graeme's wife Arnna, joined the tote as a seller, after they were married.

The correction is: I first laid eyes on Arnna at the Showgrounds, we had finished setting up the track during the day and getting ready for the nights trots, l was about 25 at the time, as young lads do they check out the scenery as the punters and staff start arriving for the meeting, particularly the attractive staff ! The rest is history as they say. Arnna and l married in March 1977, we have 3 lovely daughters; Louise, Andrea and Michelle.

cheers for now,


Mick Gulovsen 6-February-2011

Every year after the races the techs would sit along the concrete platform where the Van used to park and watch the procession of drunks and randy folk dance and stagger up the hill to catch the train... This was most amusing and many sights that are not often seen in public were likely to be found near `the wall' . Some years we used to make cards with Numbers from 1 to 10 and vote on the `sights' as they rolled past, this usually attracted many laughs amongst the `lads' as well as the patrons themselves.

The faces in the picture L - R

Kevin Johnston (standing), Peter Crozier, John Sutherland, Wayne Elsbury, Trevor Perkins, Ken Caygill, Peter Divaris, Brad Dixon, Bajro Masinovic, Mick Gulovsen, Darren Boyd, Viv Fernandez, Ian Dykes, Chew Ly.


Chris Roberston 16-Mar-2011


I caught up with Neil Rieck today for the first time in ages. He looks well, and has still got most of his hair. He is about to fly out to America for six weeks.

On an unrelated topic, I've come across an internet history of the Victorian TAB's CARBINE and RIMFIRE off course computerised betting systems. It's off topic as far as ATL matters are concerned, except the TAB eventually became your employer (albeit not by choice).

RIMFIRE operated in TAB's from May 1971 till circa 1981. The arrival of the trifecta as a popular bet type doomed RIMFIRE, as the machines were limited to two runners per ticket, unless runners were bracketed as in the Quadrella. The CRISP system replaced RIMFIRE (about the same time as the J25s appeared on course), allowing off course cash punters the opportunity to take trifectas. Prior to that only on-course punters and TAB telephone betting customers could take trifectas.

The information is part of Control Data's ex-employees' site. I hope the link below works.

CDA-EX cda history

There is also a page on the Bangkok Tote that includes references (and photos) to a joint Control Data and ATL project back in the early 1970s.

I hope all is well with you.


Chris Robertson

Hi Chris,

Good to know Neil is still going fine.

I have seen the Control Data's site before, but had lost the link. I'll post it along with your message for interested parties.

I went to the 50 year TAB anniversary luncheon last Friday 11-March-2011, which was held at the MVRC committee function rooms. There was only about five or six ex-ATL staff, but with a mixture of Government Inspectors, TAB staff, and others from within the industry, I knew possibly 30 to 40 people.

Listening to the radio on the way home from the luncheon, I learnt of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan, and it dawned on me that my 21 year old grand daughter was flying to Tokyo, and was about an hour off landing when this occurred. A long story, but she spent a lot of time inside airports at initially Guam, then Tokyo, and finally was safely returned home.

I do have business associates in Tsukuba City, about 100km north east of Tokyo, but have been able to contact them, and apart from power problems, they are doing OK.

Here is what they told me in their last message:
"It is very painful to see many people die and destroyed by earthquake and Tsunami. I am sure, Japan have the courage to put back in once again !! Thank you so much, again, Don, Kind Regards, Etsuko"

Getting older and slower Chris. Was going to retire at 70, but decided to make it 80. Having too much fun.

Cheers Don...


Chris Roberston 18-Mar-2011

Hi Don,

The TAB anniversary is well worth commemorating. The on course tote would have been merely a side show to the main betting ring without the off course pools.

It's worth remembering that before the introduction of Tote-All, the TAB had a presence on course along side the course tote. While in other states the relevant tote company sold daily and extra doubles, fourtrellas and trebles etc., in Victoria the TAB did that from their own tote houses. They issued hand written tickets right up to the end of 1980 at the city tracks, and even later at provincial courses. The exceptions were the Showgrounds and Moonee Valley. There was a Rimfire outlet at the Showgrounds right up to the last meeting there in December 1980. Moonee Valley had a Rimfire outlet at the back of the Paddock A house from the first night of Harness Racing in late 1976 till Tote All took over the Daily Doubles and Quadrellas when the J25s were introduced.

Tote All was the reason the Showgrounds discontinued harness racing after 1980. It was not considered worth introducing the J25s, so whenever Moonee Valley gallops were on a Saturday, the harness meeting was conducted on the Friday night at the Valley, rather than use the Showgrounds Saturday night. ATL effectively killed one of Melbourne's most loved institutions!

The Japan tsunami is devastating. I've been to the races at Fukushima, and have spent time exploring the Sendai area. Hearing the names of some of the fishing villages washed away is mind numbing. I've made over twenty trips to Japan. Whenever I hit a bad run at the races, or I needed to get away, Japan was an asylum for me. I can only guess at the shock your grand daughter and her fellow passengers felt on hearing the news on arrival. I hope no-one you know comes to any harm. What a redundant thing to say! We all wish everyone could have been spared.

I can't imagine you retired. You would be looking at a new project a week after getting away from your present business. Just keep going until it isn't enjoyable any more.




Ros Dyer 19-Mar-2011

Hi Don Would have been nice to include some operators who also have many years service. I commenced with ATL in July 1968 and am still employed by Tabcorp both oncourse and off course in a Pub TAB. That's almost 43 years and there are a few operators and supervisors with as many or more years service I can remember all of the techs mention in your article.

Hi Ros,

Is that the Ros who was Ken Long's partner?
I think the surname is correct, I have a picture of you in my head right now, as I knew you fairly well at the time of course.

Thats a great idea, however it will really need some input from the operating staff to compile a close to complete list for the ex-ATL operators.

I could set up a special page for
ATL Operational Staff:
    First        Last    Commenced    Position    Total    Notes

D    Ros        Dyer    July 1968    Seller        43Y    Still Employed on course and Pub TAB.

Something along those lines.

I am prepared to do something like this and possibly format the data into workable tables, but some one needs to provide the information. Perhaps even individuals.

And very nice to hear from you Ros,

Perhaps I start it off with your name, and see what happens.

Cheers Don...

Hi Don,
Good to hear back from you.  Yes, I'm the one who was with Ken Long, that was a long time ago.  Harry Lane told me he had died and that would be 20 years ago  His brother Arthur was a tech or odds/dividend calculator in late 60's, early 70's I think.  I can remember him in control at the Showgrounds.

I have attached a list from the first recognition of service luncheon held in 1999 and have marked those that I know of who are still working, those who have retired or left and those who I know have passed on.  Others I do not know their status as we don't get to see each other very much these days and a lot were country operators.  Val Jakobsen may be able to assist further with contact info etc if you wish to pursue this.

I would be good if you could rustle up some info re operators etc to add to your history.  I found out about this from Arnna Twycross at Melton Harness last night and read it when I came home.  I personally have seen a lot of changes both on course and off course as I worked in a PubTab for 11 years until about 2.1/2 years ago.  I have retired from full time work and do a very occasional shift at Taylors Lakes Hotel, just to help out as I am not really rapt in off course.

Must stop rambling on now Don, really great to hear from you, keep well
Regards Ros

Hi Ros,

Thank you for the copy of the "On Course Recognition of Service Luncheon".

At this stage it seems fairly impractical for me to put some sort of definitive list of staff together, and it would be quite a job for any individual to collate. So what I will do is simply add this, and any of these types of contributions, to a staff listing document page.

I do remember Ken's Long's brother Arthur, as I had met him a few times after he had left, but never actually worked with him.

I spoke briefly with with Rodney Johnson, and Robert Preston, and at at length with Val Jakobson at the recent TAB 50 Year Anniversary Luncheon at MVRC on the 11th of March this year, which was just over a week ago. Actually it was the very day of the big Japanese Earthquake and Tsunami.

Thank you very much for your good wishes, it really is good to hear from you, and know that you are still able to do the occasional shift, and are in high spirits, as I know none of us are getting any younger or fitter.

I'll send you an email when I have your little story in place.

Take care,

Cheers Don...



22-Mar-2011 Peter Collier


Found the attached article the other day

Also Commencing dates old ATL staff as permanent

M Weiss 13/4/1981
P Chalmers 11/2/87 resigned 19/5/88 began with Unico 22/5/88
C Angus 17/9/79 began at Datatronics 30/7/73
G Twycross 18/10/74
F Estcourt 18/10/65
D McKenzie 16/1/76
K Crook 29/11/65
P Nelson 1/2/74
R Johnston 1/7/74
I Dykes 17/4/78
M Gulovsen 16/8/85
L Lieu 8/12/86
M Higgins 7/7/69
P Collier 19/7/65 (casual 10 june 1961)
H Lane 23 nov 1964

You may be able to use them in the profiles
I think Fred retired after the 1990 carnival

Another couple of casual names
David Keogh
Trevor Carter
Rocky Rowlands

12-Jan-2012 Ron Parkinson

Hi Don I have just read your website on the history of ATL. I found it most interesting as over the years of my punting on course, nearly all of the people you mention I came in contact with at various times. I was saddened to read that Robin Bone & Arthur Chandler had passed on, but on reflection we are all getting older.Virtually all of the pro punters have retired mainly because technology caught up with their modus operandi but a few of us manage to hang onto our winnings and have been able to live a fairly comfortable retirement regards Ron Parkinson

Hi Ron,

So very nice to hear from you.

I haven't done anything recently to the ATL pages, as I am slowing down so much myself, and putting what energy I have left, into my business interests to keep me from going on the old age pension.

I just got back from a few weeks in Darwin, and the heat really knocked me about. Feel like I need a holiday already.

However I remember you well of course, and remember the great days of the tote systems, and the professional punters.

I am going to more funerals than weddings these days, so I guess it is really a sign of our ages.

Regarding the ATL pages, I will always find time to add an email from an old friend to the archives, as I am sure that many people will remember you, and be interested in your comments.

For those that never knew Ron, I would say Ron was the number one professional punter that had inspired other punters to follow. He was as initiative as many of the race course administrators that were prepared to take a chance on his ideas, and changed the way that professional punters were handled on a racecourse.

Well, until the technology changed so much that there was no percentage left in the game for professional punters, and I think they are now delegated back to almost leper type status.

Good luck with whatever you are doing today Ron.

Cheers Don...

Peter Nelson 12-Feb-2012
Aproximate Odds Board  Sandown Greyhounds 1980's

long ago and oh so far away
installed by Peter and Craig Allerdice under supervision from Harry i think it was a trade test for us all, from memory we had to borrow the ladders  scaffold from Bill Castles and or the Race club.
Peter Nelson

Elliott Roper 27-Feb-2012

You bugger! I spent an hour or more going over the Brian Conlon youtube stuff, your site and and stuff each linked to. Took me back a bit.

I worked as a contractor at ATL on software development for Shatin and the Brisbane tote. I did the host mux at Shatin and the DMX-11 for Brisbane. That was the best code I ever wrote! I am proud of it to this day. I also did an exerciser for DEC for the original DMX for the Shatin project.
I worked mostly at Meadowbank, Eagle Farm and Hong Kong.

Famous names from that era: Peter Main, Bob Plemel, Mike Bell, Mike Ledwich, Peter Rolls.. oh god, it's all flooding back. I have a few photos lying about. If you like I'll mail over a selection.

Dale Oxtoby and Colin Thomas were partners in my comany with Alex Yezerski for a few years before I moved to UK and we split up somewhere around the equator. I have often thought about writing up some of the daft stuff that went on in those days. Brian Conlon came to visit a few years ago and he almost talked me into doing something then.

Thanks for the jolt from the past. It would be fun to get in touch with some of the old reprobates again

Elliott Roper
phone: +44 1663 747334
mobile +44 7796 171018

Hi Elliott,

Nice to hear from you, and thanks for the feed back to add to the ATL history.

Of course, I know many of the people you spoke about. Dale Oxtoby was a close friend in those days. I actually had an extremely quick phone conversation with him and his wife Pat, a few months back.

Any photographs would be gratefully accepted, and I'm sure sure Brian Conlon would also be interested for his web site.

Most of the ATL history I wrote, was done late 2009 to early 2010, and I must admit I have moved onto other projects that now have a higher priority on my time, however I will add your email to the recent ones I have received, as I am sure many of the old ATL gang will be very interested.

Take care, Cheers Don...

Kingsley Bruce 9-May-2012

I'm guessing that I am emailing Don McKenzie . . .

If I am, or at least you are the author of this web page . . .

Then you may have heard of Control Systems Totalisators. A company that was managed by Ken Lee. If this is the case, I worked for Ken out of an office in Brookvale on Sydney's northern beaches for a while, and then later moved to Melbourne to complete the writing of the code for the Race Day Control program. This project was developed in conjunction with a communications specification written by Patrick Miller. It was an Assembly Language project written for an IBM PC that took me 4 years to complete, Jan 1983 - Dec 1987 and a further year working for Ken supporting the system and developing other projects.

When the private totalisator companies were all required to be subsumed by VicTAB circa 1986, CST was the first to go. I was offered a job with VicTAB, and instead chose to move to a completely different area of IT research and development, and return to my hometown - Manly Beach, Sydney. I have a lot of great memories from those days - and still have the original Assembly Language source code. Amazingly, up until about 3 years ago, I still had the fully working IBM XT Development Machine with a 10 Megabyte Hard Drive and a 360 Kilobyte 5 1/4" floppy disc drive. I donated that machine to a computer recycling charity organisation. It was impressive to see it still working though after 26 years of operation.

I am Kingsley Bruce. I hope this is a piece of information that fits into your story - as I vaguely remember your name . . . although I'm not sure we ever met - although I was at VicTAB's HQ in St. Kilda Road one day looking at either Perkin-Elmer equipment and/or some CDC machines in the Data Centre (was it on the 1st floor?) and may have met you there. I live in Canberra now - I've been here for 13 years. I've worked on some truly amazing and big projects in the last 25 years. The "Tote Project" was my first "BIG" development project, and it truly was an fantastic opportunity and experience. There are lots more snippets of information I have that may expand the extent of your story - the people, the companies, the work assignments and travelling that all happened to make that project work. They certainly were exciting times.

Kingsley Bruce
iPhone +61 407 562 426
kingsley.bruce AT

Hi Kingsley, nice to hear from you.

I'll add your words to the story, as I know many readers will be very
interested in this aspect of the Victorian Tote.

Yes, I knew Ken Lee, and CST. Also many of the people that worked for
Ken, as most transferred across to the TAB when we all joined forces.

Two of his permanent full time staff were Trevor Perkins, and Ann
McDermott. Big Trev is still working for TABCorp, and I ran into Ann a
year or two back. She retired in about 2002 from what I recall.

I knew Patrick Miller, and saw him a few years ago at a luncheon,
possibly the same one where I last saw Ann. I hardly recognised him.
Been too many years I guess.

I don't think we met, as I was with ATL until 1988, however I did see
Ken's then new tote system in operation. I think it was at Geelong Trots
one night, and he may have done a small demonstration at Olympic Park
dogs also from what I seem to recall.

Again, thanks for contacting me, and becoming a part of the recorded
Victorian Tote History.

Cheers Don...

Kingsley Bruce 9-May-2012 Follow up Email:

You know what, I think it was the Geelong Trots. I can't remember where the Olympic Park dogs track is, however I was there in Geelong at a trot meeting and a dogs meeting somewhere - once only though for a demo race meeting. Ken was probably keen to not have any issues that night and wanted me to observe the staff as they were using the system.

I remember "Annie", "Trev" and of course Jan Godsmark - Ken's PA. I'm just trying to remember the name of the young blonde girl that was with me as part of all the testing and development of the overall system. She was a very experienced employee of the company, and Ken had picked her as the best person for the job of assisting me in understanding the "Tote" business - how it worked, what was critical, and what the ramifications were for system failures or mistakes. She was extremely good and knew the business very well - and I was an IT guy with limited knowledge of the racing industry.

The last bug I ever fixed on that project had been outstanding for years - I had put 2 "f's" in Trifecta, and it was being displayed on the public TV monitors. After I finally corrected that mistake, the Victorian Department of Youth Sport and Recreation ratified the system after one of the mock-up Race Day Meetings we used to hold at Werribee - sometimes past midnight! After that, I was no longer allowed to make any changes to the code. That was it - it was deemed "Certified and Correct". Any Idea when that system was retired from operation? It was certified in 1986.

Yeah, good to hear from you too Don . . .

it was a grand era, that started for me in about 1971 - 1972 with a lecture by Col Connaughton from Computer Sciences of Australia at the Wireless Institute of Australia - I think at a hall the WIA used in Atchison Street in Crows Nest. Col spoke about the introduction of the Intel 4004 microprocessor, and some chips from other manufacturers . . . and shortly thereafter, myself and a few friends decided we were going to build a computer. We tried to find out information and spoke to some people in Sydney that showed us their achievements over a period of about 3 years - including the Electronics Australia Magazine Educ-8 ("Educate") system, an IMSAI system, and eventually picked and put together a SOL-20 system we purchased from America . . . using snail mail - that's right we didn't ring, we wrote letters.

We had this thing running around 1976 - 1977 however we could not afford any RAM. So I wrote the very first program using the inbuilt ROM debugger and used the Video RAM to store it into the computer. All done in Machine Code - not even Assembler! As I entered the bytes that composed the program code, funny characters were appearing on the screen. This was in fact my program being interpreted by the Video Display Character Generator chip. A kind of reinforcement that something was working . . .

The intent was to print "Hello World", however it was taking me too long to input all the hex byte codes, and my friends were getting impatient - so I stopped at just "Hello". We ran the program! Sadly, my first instruction was to clear the screen . . . and that wiped out my program . . . my first bug on a microprocessor based computer system :0( - I think it was a Z-80 chip, the same as the "Trash 80" that I later bought. A Model I, Level II system with 16K of RAM that doesn't pre-date your acquisition as one of the first in Oz.

It was this project, and also that I had gained an Electronics and Communications Certificate from the North Sydney Technical College, with a focus on microcomputer logic and systems that helped me get the job with CST. Of interest, in one of the exams I sat at that college, when posed with the exam problem to design a compander system for transmission of audio across a broadcast system - ie: compress the audio for transmission and expand the dynamics in the receiver - I was the first student ever that solved that problem, not with traditional analogue operational amplifiers (Op-Amps) but digitally with A-D conversion, pre-programmed ROMS and D-A conversion with different lookup tables for the compression circuit in the transmitter, and the expansion circuit in the receiver. I even supplied the code for the PROMs as part of my answer! . . . The truth? I couldn't remember how to do it with Op-Amps!

It's been fun talking to you, I hope we can stay in touch, and please feel free to use any of this material as part of your history of the tote. And, if you see the other people from the CST days give them my contact details. I'll try and find the source code for the PC Race Day Control Program . . .

Kingsley Bruce
iPhone +61 407 562 426

Hi Kingsley,

I have placed our email exchanges, including this one at:

I have a few ideas about the young blonde girl, but because of the years, she will possibly be someone's grand mother today.

Your interests have obviously been very similar to mine over the years, and I'll keep your email regarding the development of the CTS tote intact, and post it with your other email.

Good luck with whatever path life takes you in future. I am possibly looking at another year or two with Dontronics, as I seem to be battling health problems these days.

Getting old isn't the fun part. :-)

Cheers Don...