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Why do fax machines still exist?

fax machine

If someone asked you to send him a fax these days, you would most likely just shrug it off as a joke. A fax? We are not in the eighties anymore, right? But, as surprising as it sounds, the fax machine is still in use. The usage has certainly fallen from its peak in 1997, when there were more than 3,5 million fax machines sold in the US alone.


Despite all that, it could still be too early to discard the fax machines in its entirety, at least according to the technology historian from the Texas A&M University Jonathan Coopersmith. He is also the author of the book: The Rise and Fall of the Fax Machine, where he documented the journey of this fascinating piece of technology. He says that the evolution of the machine started in the 1840s. His opinion is, that due its proceeded use among doctors, legal advisors, and governments, who require legitimate signatures and safe data exchange, it will still be in use, for a considerable length of time to come.

The evolution of fax machines and How You Can Build a Fax Machine on Your Own?

Alexander Bain was a 19th-century inventor from Scotland who built up a machine that could send a scanned message, line by line.

For over 130 years, different innovators, including Thomas Edison, tinkered with their very own fax machine designs. “There’s a great deal of failure when trying to develop something new,” Coopersmith says of that first century of innovative work. “There were many individuals who say, ‘We can do this better. We’ll attempt once more.'”

By the mid-1900s, you could get an astounding fax machine—keeping pace with the sort of fax you’d get today—yet it cost a considerable amount of money. “Much of the time, you didn’t use it that much,” Coopersmith said of the expense. “For most companies, that is difficult to legitimize.” For some organizations, however, it seemed well and good. The Associated Press, for instance, propelled its Wirephoto network in 1935, which transmitted pictures in the range of 10,000 miles of rented phone wires.

At that point, just like nowadays, the fax machine depended on a straightforward light/dark binary. To transmit a file, the machine scans a page, line by line, and transmits one arrangement of electric pulses for the dark parts (like text) and another for the white parts (like the spaces between letters, words, and passages). The electric pulses travel through a phone wire. On the opposite end of the transmission, the receiving fax machine releases black ink as instructed, leaving out the rest. It takes a couple of minutes, yet early engineers believed the hybrid analog-digital device could become something special.

Their hopes finally realized in the 1980s. “At the point when that cost went down, more individuals started to use [fax],” Coopersmith says. The machines rapidly became universal in the work environment. It was an interesting time. Or at least it seemed to be in the movies of that time, many of which included a fax machine. (In 1989, Back to the Future 2 pointed out a dream of the future where everybody had a fax machine in every room of their home, for instance.) But it additionally exhibited another issue, as per Coopersmith. “One of the issues raised by the legal community [was], is a fax signature lawfully substantial?” It was this inquiry—and its definitive goals—that would decide the destiny of the fax, at least for the time being.

Signing copies

Before modern computerized advancements emerged, individuals needed to sign their legal paperwork by hand. You commonly went, face to face, to sign the papers, or you sent them forward and backward between relevant parties up to the point when everything was marked and crossed. Yet, the fax machine and different innovations implied that wasn’t necessary anymore.

For a period, legal advisors and others were worried about the legitimacy of these signatures. Would they hold up in court? Imagine a scenario in which the individual who signed a document later claimed it was forged. Be that as it may, courts routinely upheld fax signatures, treating them with indistinguishable weight from other legitimate signatures. Today, numerous organizations, including Popular Science’s parent organization, require substantial e-marks, similar to a faxed duplicate of a hand-marked record, or an e-signature from a cloud-based program like Adobe Sign. The program checks signatures in line with the rules determined by the ESIGN Act, passed by Congress in 2000.

The legal community isn’t the alone when it comes to depending on the fax machine. Healthcare is a noteworthy user of fax machines, as per the examination by eFax Corporate. Mentalities are changing as a new generation of technically knowledgeable doctors gain control over the country’s healthcare system, however, numerous specialists and the hospitals they work for still consider fax machines more secure than email for transmitting data protected by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, normally called HIPAA. The manufacturing business, where phone cables might be more dependable than the internet, and the government, which attempts to process touchy data for public release as a component of the Freedom of Information Act, are additionally standard users of fax machines. “Specialists, drug stores, [and] attorneys say, ‘How about we have that fax signature,'” Cooper Smith says. “It’s a certified system.”

A requirement for a fax machine can manifest in unforeseen ways, as well. After the Sony hack, where Hollywood elites’ messages were stolen and distributed on the web, numerous individuals allegedly began utilizing their dried up old fax machines out of dread. Fax, Coopersmith cautions, can be hacked like any other technology, however, it’s still hard to envision somebody using a fax interceptor in 2018.

In a few spots, fax hasn’t left style by any means. “Faxing, particularly, is a network technology – the more individuals who utilize it, the more important it becomes,” Coopersmith says. In Japan, where the majority of people still depend on faxing for different ways of communication, it’s exceptionally important. While it’s somewhat a matter of habit, the fax machine offers some truly engaging services, like an ability to communicate even when the web’s down. What’s more, faxes aren’t simply bound to the workplace, either. They’re used in homes, like a 2-in-1 machine, with both fax and a landline telephone.

Just like the Walkman, the fax machine will most likely never again peak as it did in the days of the 1980s. The innovation is gradually blurring as e-marks turn into the standard and electronic faxes (where physical papers are examined and messaged as PDFs) end up less demanding for another age of office specialists to utilize.

Yet, Coopersmith says, this battle is not yet over for this specific technology. The fax machine’s ascent to prominence, he says, was very long. “You have the first business service in 1863 in France, yet it took 50 years to become profitable, and afterward it took another 50 years to go worldwide,” he says. So similarly, the decline of the fax has been in progress for quite a long time, however, the genuine demise of it will likely happen way further in the future.

If you liked this article than you may be interested in our list of the best fax machines 2018

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Best Fax Machines In Review


The Best Fax Machines for Big and Small Businesses


The business world has evolved. In the past, a dedicated fax machine was a crucial part of keeping your business running smoothly. Today, fax machines are still crucial, but they appeal to a very specific selection of companies – those that require faxed documents for compliance and regulatory purposes.

While it is possible to send your faxes via a fax modem or an online faxing service, many organizations still prefer the security and reliability they get with a professional machine. Though all-in-one printers often provide faxing as one of their many features, dedicated fax machines are designed specifically to excel in faxing, which means that you get access to a range of useful features. Some dedicated fax machines come with speed-dial numbers, multiple location support, and plenty of local memory to keep your documents securely stored.

Specific fax machines even include the essential phone features that were common with older fax devices, like handsets for calls, caller ID systems, and built-in voice mail and answering machine services. At the same time, your fax machine should be able to handle basic functions like copying and printing, though they may not be able to offer the same resolution and quality of printing of a dedicated printer. Because of the huge market and number of brands who offer this machines we have put together our list of the best fax machines.

Choosing the Right Fax Machine and Best Printer Fax Machines

Fax machines come in many different sizes, with unique features and services designed to set them apart from the other competitors on the market. For instance, many modern fax machines use laser printing technology to give you a crisp image and exceptional printing. Depending on how much you’re willing to spend, you can either access the latest start-of-the-art technology or a system that’s just strong enough to give you the documentation you need.

Ultimately, just like any other investment for your business, the best fax machine for your needs will depend on the requirements of your business, and what you hope to do with your documents. In our modern digital world, one of the easiest ways to find the machine that’s best suited to your needs is to read through reviews and testimonials from other customers just like you.

Since browsing through hundreds of reviews can be an exhausting process, we’ve put together this article based on the reviews and customer testimonials we’ve seen on websites like Office Depot, Best Buy, Amazon and more.

Watch the video overview below:

The Best Fax Machine for Small Businesses

If you’ve ever shopped for a fax machine before, then you’ll already know that there are dozens of brands out there that all claim to offer the best possible devices. However, during our search for the best business fax machines, we found that one company consistently got higher reviews than the others: Brother.

Of all the Brother fax machines that customers loved online, the one with the highest performance rating was the Brother IntelliFax-2840. This unique system sells at a price of around $170, and it uses laser-based printing technology to offer clear and crisp documents. The Brother IntelliFax machine also comes with a Group 3 Fax model, which means that you can rapidly transmit pages within 2.5 seconds in ideal conditions. The system also comes with the option to copy documents or print files from your computer with a USB cable.

As an affordable but feature-rich product, the IntelliFax 2840 is ideally suited to small businesses and entrepreneur offices. The paper tray is large enough to hold around 250 sheets at once, and you can add up to 20 pages to the document feeder section at a time. Additionally, if you’re worried about printing large batches of faxes at once, the IntelliFax also features storage for up to 400 sheets in memory. This means that you can run several documents through one fax, without losing any vital information.

Customers give the Brother IntelliFax 2840 an impressive score for ease of use, speed, and even printing quality. From the moment you receive the product, you’ll find that it’s easy to set up, and the toner can last for a significant amount of time too. Perhaps the biggest problem for most people is how quickly the machine goes into sleep mode. You can remove deep sleep mode, but it’s complicated to do so. Like most fax machines, there are also occasional issues with bugs like “out of paper” problems and paper jams. However, the same could be said of just about any device on the market today.

The Best Fax Machine for Heavy Use

For companies that need to accomplish more with their fax machine, it may be worth upgrading to the Brother IntelliFax 4100e model. This machine is slightly more expensive than it’s small business counterpart at an average price of around $225. However, it’s packed full of useful features that can be highly convenient for the modern enterprise.

The IntelliFax 4100e also incorporates a laser printing system, though this one is more heavy-duty, and designed to handle around 3,000 pages of printing per month. Additionally, the upgraded IntelliFax also comes with the same modem as it’s cheaper brother, as well as an advanced copying ability. The main difference between this model and the less expensive IntelliFax is its functionality. The memory can store up to 500 pages of information at once, and the toner cartridge is capable of printing about 3,000 sheets. Additionally, the top transmission speed for the IntelliFax 4100e is 3 seconds – meaning you still get a speedy performance.

A particularly useful feature of the 4100e model is the fact that it can store information within its memory for up to four days at a time – which is ideal if you want to keep documents secure in the event of a power outage.

Reviews of the Brother IntelliFax 4100e commend the machine for its exceptional print quality, speed, and performance. The device is simple to set up and use, although there are a few reliability problems to consider, including possible malfunctions, black streaks on pages, and trouble waking up from deep sleep mode. Additionally, replacement parts for this machine can be so pricey that it’s potentially more cost-efficient to replace the device entirely when significant components break.

Watch the video overview below:

The Best Fax Machine for Occasional Users

Even for users who only use their fax machine occasionally, the Brother brand remains in the top spot for performance and reliability. However, you probably don’t need either of the products above if you’re only sending faxes every once in a while. Instead, you can keep costs low with the $50 budget option: The Brother FAX-575.

Though the FAX-575 is a rather primary machine compared to the options we’ve outlined above, it still has a lot of benefits to offer. Unlike the IntelliFax devices, the Fax-575 uses thermal technology for printing, and it can’t be used for direct printing from your computer. Additionally, though there are copying features available, they’re very basic.

The modem is a 9.6 Kbps model which takes around 15 seconds to send a complete page, and the built-in memory can store approximately 25 pages at a time. There’s also an automatic document feeder which can send about 10 sheets at a time.

Despite an underwhelming list of features, the Brother FAX-575 can be a great option for home users and small offices. It’s easy to implement this machine into your spare room or garage office, and you can even hook it up to your phone line and automatically detect the difference between voice calls and faxes. That means that you don’t need to turn the machine on and off all the time. Additionally, the Brother FAX-575 can use your phone caller ID service to let you know who’s calling.

If you’re looking for a great value fax machine, or an entry-level buy when you don’t have many demands when it comes to faxing technology, the Brother FAX-575 is a great option. It’s easy to set up the system, and the image quality is still excellent, even though the machine doesn’t use laser printing. The main issue with this Brother fax machine is the fact that the consumable products can cost quite a lot. The cartridges are expensive for a ribbon printer, and they only last for around 150 pages at a time. However, on the plus side, this cheaper machine also uses standard paper instead of more expensive thermal paper.

Ultimately, the best way to choose the right fax machine for your needs is to decide how you plan on using your device. All around, the best brand according to consumers seems to be Brother, but feel free to explore other options too!