These days, many people put importance on things that are fast, or even instantaneous. That’s because people are busier than ever.
That said, one of the pioneers in rapid communication is still in use even today. This avant-garde veteran is the good old fax machine.
Although it may not be the first choice for rapid communication in today’s corporate data exchange, there must be something about it that has made it able to withstand the test of time.
So, that being said, let’s see what are its most important features and if it is instant enough to serve us for the decades to come.
Brief History of Fax
Contrary to what you may assume, the fax machine’s first version was invented even before the telephone. The first fax, at the time called “chemical telegraph,” was sent in the 1840’s by its inventor – a Scotsman named Alexander Bain (1811 – 1877).
How Does It Actually Work?
We all know computer data are just sets of only two symbols – one and zero. Similarly, fax machines transmit your information using only a pair of signals – black or white. What these machines do is treat the piece of paper with your data as if it’s covered in a really thick grid.
Then, they scan it – they look at each tiny square to see if it’s black or white and then send the collected data to the receiving machine. Square by square, line by line and your whole page is sent – or received – in a matter of minutes.
Fast or Instant? Speed of Data Interchange
Is a fax machine instant? Or just fast? The answer has to be the latter, though the speed of data interchange depends very much on the type of machine (or internet-based service, as we’ll discuss in a minute) being used.
There are three types of machines, named simply type 1, type 2 and type 3. The type 3 is the fastest and should take about a minute to send or receive a page of text. Type 2 needs around three minutes, while type 1 needs sometimes as much as six minutes.
However, the speed doesn’t depend only on the machine sending the data, but also on the one receiving it. Not only that, but the machine determining how quick the data flow can be is the slower one of the pair.
Meaning to say, the exchange between types 1 and 3 would be as fast (or as slow) as that between two type 1 machines.
Pros and Cons
We are used to a quite proficient interchange of data, so this might seem a bit too long to send or receive a page of information. However, consider the cases when you have only a physical copy of a document. Or you have to sign and send a contract.
You’d have to scan it, send it via email and the person on the other side would have to download it and print it in order to have a hard copy. Now, this would probably take up as much time as faxing, but you’d need to do much more work on a number of different devices.
On the other hand, with one fax machine, you are able to do everything you need done. You might now think of the contemporary offices, all of their modern devices and gadgets and consider fax machines to be redundant in that environment.
On the contrary – they are widely used in offices for a quick and easy flow of information. Furthermore, they are a great backup system of communication for when your internet connection is out, or your computer or mail servers are down.
At such times, even 6 minutes per page seems to be instant compared to whenever the IT guys manage to get the system up.
How Online Fax Services Compare
Internet-based fax services have been on the rise these days. They allow you to send and receive faxes just with a smartphone and an internet connection. That includes the ability to sign and send documents, using just your finger. So it’s fast. All you have to do is choose a provider, such as FaxBurner.
Using either photos from your phone, or by attaching a document, you can have a fax sent extremely quickly. And you can use either our app or your email to get the job done.
It’s also fast and easy to receive faxes. Either request a free fax number (good for 24 hours), or upgrade to a premium plan to keep your fax number.
Faxes are stored in the cloud, as well as in your email as a PDF.
Wrapping Up – Are Fax Machines Instant?
The modern means of communication may have cast a shadow on the popularity of fax machines, but not on their usefulness. It’s not an instant form of communication, but it is fast, especially when faxing online. When physical documents need to be transmitted or a signature is needed, faxing is likely faster than other methods which require printing and scanning.