Just the facts on all things fax


(WYTV) – We’ve had telephones since 1878 but a Scottish clockmaker, Alexander Bain, filed a patent for a fax machine 30 years before that. The fax machine today lives on, beeping and wheezing up sheets of paper.

The technology had been around for decades but it wasn’t until the 1939 New York World’s Fair that visitors saw their first fax machines, spitting out 18 sheets a minute.

They were expensive. Even as recently as 1982, one standalone fax machine could cost $20,000.

Then prices dropped to a point where businesses and home offices found them affordable and useful.

America had only around 300,000 of the contraptions in the middle of the 1980s and by 1989, 4 million.

It’s simple — place your signed document on the machine, punch in the destination number, hit the green button and minutes later, your paperwork is on the other side of town or the other side of the continent.

Today, four major industries still use faxing — manufacturing, health care, finance and government.

Why is it still around? Unlike the internet with its hackers, and spyware and viruses, faxing is a comfortable, familiar technology and we trust it.

It’s a simple, low-tech system that anyone can use with just a minute of training. It works smoothly until you get a busy signal.

A digital fax machine will use the internet to send data, allowing for faxes to be transmitted both to a fax number or through email. But we still have the mechanical machine that will likely live on for decades.

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