A Brief History of Fax

While it would seem that the fax machine is modern technology, actually quite the opposite is true.

The first fax machine was invented by Alexander Bain, in 1843. Mr. Bain was a Scottish mechanic and inventor and was awarded a patent for his invention. Of course, this would hardly resemble the fax machines used today, it was actually two pendulums that moved in sync for message scanning.

The fax machine has evolved into what we recognize today thanks to the efforts of many, here’s a short list:

  • Shelford Bidwell, circa 1880 an English inventor
  • Elisha Gray, circa 1888
  • Arthur Korn, circa 1900 a German physicist
  • Richard Ranger, circa 1924
  • and scientists at AT&T and Xerox

Source: Wikipedia

There are, by some estimates, over 40 million fax machines still in use today, worldwide. Even now, fax technology is still evolving. Fax is still the most secure way to exchange information and in some industries, it is required by law. Finding more efficient ways to utilize fax technology is an ongoing endeavor.

Environmental Impact of fax

Estimates of the impact of “old” fax technology (paper required) show that over 2,000,000 trees are used each year to send and receive faxes. That’s a lot of trees but the “old way” required paper to be fed on one end and printed on the other end, there had to be a better way.

Enter the computer, naturally. Transmitting fax images over a phone line using a fax modem controlled by software to digitally store the image was a natural step in the evolution of fax. However, that also led to problems. The telephone system in many countries is aging infrastructure and not quite so reliable anymore. Users have the burden of troubleshooting problems with failed fax delivery due to line noise, modem malfunctions, software bugs, etc. But it was a step forward.

Email to Fax Arrives

Email to fax services are everywhere now. Expert technicians lift the troubleshooting burden of the fax user. Everyone knows how to use email, so the delivery method is as easy as it can get. Security is the primary issue with these services, many profess to be HIPAA compliant and secure, for many of them that is a suspicious claim so choose your service wisely.

You will be moving into the email to fax arena soon, whether you know it or not.