George Julius was born in Norwich, England, and came to Australia when his father was appointed Archdeacon of Ballarat.
Julius was working as an engineer with the West Australian railways when a dispute arose over the counting of votes in a local election. From this he conceived the idea of a mechanical vote counter, but no Australian government was interested in such a machine.
In 1907 Julius set in private practice as an engineer in Sydney, working in his backyard workshop on converting his vote counting device into a fully automatic machine which would accept bets and determine punters’ rewards. His totalisator was first used in Auckland, New Zealand in March 1913. In Australia, Sydney racecourses began using the machine in 1917 and Melbourne in 1931.
The adoption of the Julius totalisator was to have a profound effect on the way in which on- course, and off-course, wagering was conducted, and in the long term was to provide a new mainstream of financial support for the racing industry.
Julius was later appointed by the Federal Government to be the first Chairman of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, the forerunner of the present CSIRO.