Back in the 70s - when I built my first computer - The Compukit UK 101 - I took a BASIC program for running a TOTE and rewrote it to function more efficiently and to display 'real' odds - the ones that bookmakers use, not mathematicians! For Round Table, the Scouts, other groups and - later - Rotary, I used the program at many fund-raising Race Nights. If you are unaware of these, they are events where films of horse races are shown - after people have bought tickets (i.e. 'bet') on the one they think might be the winner. At the end of the race, the total amount 'wagered' (less a percentage for the fund being supported) is divided amongst the holders of tickets for the winning horse. They can be fun evenings, and the TOTE program adds to the atmosphere - and promotes more 'betting!'
In the early days, the computer display was a television - tuned to a particular channel. For the Race Nights, more than one screen was needed to let everyone see the TOTE, so TVs were borrowed, and fed via aerial cables from an amplifier/splitter. Apart from the aerial cables, the TVs needed mains as well, so those attending had to be careful not to trip over the mass of wires on the floor! What would today's 'elf 'n safety society make of that? Besides actually running the computer, I also had to keep all the TVs correctly tuned, and keep adjusting their vertical holds to keep the pictures stable - these evening could be quite stressful, especially if the power went off and all the data was lost! Those TVs were also damn heavy, so getting them into the event hall, and out again afterwards, was exhausting!
I improved the program over the years, and eventually re-wrote it in the 'C' programming language so that it could run on more up-to-date computers, and it has been used in that form for some years - though less frequently of late. Nowadays, instead of TVs, a computer display projector is used, showing the TOTE on the same screen that is used for projecting the films, and the program runs on a laptop. Unfortunately,the modern laptops cannot display my 'C' program properly, so I needed to re-write it. I discovered some free software called JustBASIC, which I have used to update my program - albeit going back to the first program language available for general use. Below are some pictures of the different screens that the program displays.
If you are interested in getting a copy of this program - FREE - for your own use, please contact me at the e-mail address on my Home Page, (you may need to adjust the settings for Data Execution Protection (DEP) to get the installed program to run)
You can look at three videos of how the program operates here:*
Use your Browser 'Back' button to return from the videos
Below are some of the display screens used by the program
*Since initially publishing this page, I have rewritten the program to suit graphic screens - the adjacent picture shows the old version, and those below, the new.
The videos above, however, show the old screens
This is the opening screen
This is the screen where various parameters can be adjusted prior to the event. Payback on the first race may be set slightly higher than the rest to - hopefully - get an initial result to impress the punters. The 'Rounding to the nearest Five/Ten pence' entry depends upon the change that the evening's treasurer has brought along! The 'Starting No. on tickets' entry enables partially used books (all starting at the same number - of course) to be used.
On this screen, Race Names and Sponsors can be entered/edited
On this screen, the Horse Names and their Owners can be entered/edited
This is the actual screen used during the event. When a Race number is selected, it shows the Horse numbers and Names, and enables the current number of bets placed for each horse to be updated. The bet numbers are updated several times as punters buy tickets before a race starts, enabling the 'TOTE' screen to display the latest position
This again is the actual screen used during the event, but after 'Show Odds' has been selected instead of 'Update Bets' - giving a 'TOTE' display. This is the view on display most of the time during 'betting'. The Favourite (Fav) and Outsider (O/S) horses are indicated - i.e. those with the most, and those with the least, bets placed on them
Here, at the end of a race, the operator has selected 'Pick Winner' from the 'Show Odds' screen, entered the number of the winning horse, and selected 'Show Winner'. The screen then shows the Name of the horse, its Owner, and the Payback per ticket - instantly! After those holding winning tickets have been paid, the operator returns to the 'TOTE' screen above for the next race.
At any time during the event - but usually at the end - this is the screen that is shown when 'Display Results' is selected from the Main Menu. It gives an analysis for each race and a running total of the tickets sold/profit, etc. Operators may choose to display this screen when the program's screen is NOT visible from the overhead projector.
At any time during the event - but usually at the end - this is the screen that is shown when 'Save Data' is selected from the Main Menu. It provides a 'backup' of what has happened so far during the event. It can also be used to store Race Names, Sponsors, Horses and Owners prior to an event, ready to be Loaded by the 'Load Data' screen.
This is the screen that is shown when 'Load Data' is selected from the Main Menu.