Believe it or not, there was a time when sending a document from one place to another took days or even weeks. But then came a pivotal moment: the invention of an incredible machine, the fax.
Want to know who invented the fax machine and when? Read on to find out the history of faxing and the story behind the invention.
Fax Machine History
Long before the internet or even the telephone, communication largely depended on the mail system. Not very ideal, right? But in 1843, a brilliant mind, Alexander Bain, invented the early version of the fax machine.
Bain, a Scottish mechanic, created an innovative device that could reproduce handwriting electronically via telegraph lines. It wasn’t perfect, but it was a start towards instant long-distance communication.
Evolution of Faxing
It’s not just about one man or one invention but rather an ongoing series of advancements. Over the next several decades, the following inventors improved upon Bain’s original design.
Frederick Bakewell’s “Image Telegraph” (1848)
Think of Frederick Bakewell’s image telegraph as an early version of facsimile technology. Introduced at the Great Exhibition in London by Bakewell, an English physicist, the image telegraph was a significant improvement upon Alexander Bain’s initial invention.
It worked by making copies of an original document using synchronized rotating cylinders. Despite its innovative design, Bakewell’s image telegraph did not become popular, but it set the stage for future refinement.
Giovanni Caselli’s “Pantelegraph” (1865)
Following Bakewell’s strides, an Italian physicist, Caselli, launched a device called the “Pantelegraph” in 1865.
Caselli’s invention enabled the transmission of images over telegraph lines, broadening the horizons beyond simple text transmission.
His system featured an electrochemical process, which greatly improved the image quality and allowed for sharper and more accurate image transmission.
Elisha Gray’s “Telautograph” (1888)
Elisha Gray, an American electrical engineer, would then become another instrumental figure in the history of the fax machine.
He introduced the “telautograph” – an adaptation that changed the perception of what such technology could achieve. The novelty of the telautograph was its ability to replicate the movements of a person’s hand remotely, hence giving a personally crafted feel to received messages.
This invention laid the groundwork for the future of remote handwriting transmission technology.
Arthur Korn’s “Photoelectric Transmission System” (1902)
German physicist Arthur Korn further augmented faxing technology by developing the photoelectric transmission system, which was called the “Bildtelegraph.”
Demonstrating the versatility of faxing technology, his invention allowed the transmission of photographs via telegraphic and telephonic channels.
This was a significant leap, as it opened up channels for new applications in different fields, such as newspapers and criminal identification.
Popularization and Evolution
Development of Improved Fax Machines
The 20th century saw new inventors, such as Richard H. Ranger, who developed wireless photoradiograms, a type of fax machine, under the Radio Corporation of America (RCA).
In 1924, this technology was used to send photos across the Atlantic, from New York to London. This was the first instance where imagery could be sent virtually instantaneously over substantial distances, truly a milestone in the journey towards rapid and reliable communication.
Equally important was the Xerox Corporation, credited with commercializing modern fax technology. In 1964, they introduced the Long Distance Xerography (LDX) machine, the first “true” fax machine as we know it today.
This new technology could send letters and legal-sized documents through telephone lines, which was a huge leap from previous methods of communication and a revolutionary moment in the world of business communication.
Faxing’s Role in Early Journalism and Business
The newfound capability for transmitting documents instantaneously found favor, particularly in journalism and business.
Prior to the genre of 24/7 news cycles, the fax machine turned out to be fundamental in escalating the speed of news delivery. Newspapers could be printed remotely – an innovation that made news more timely and accessible.
For businesses, the advent of speedy, secure, and reliable communication technology was a game-changer.
Companies could suddenly share contracts, schematics, or any important documents within minutes, helping speed up decision-making processes, reducing costs, and significantly increasing efficiency.
In essence, the fax machine was a catalyst in the rapid progression towards the global economy.
While faxes might seem a bit ‘retro’ in an era of emails and instant messaging, they have come a long way and have greatly contributed toward instant communication.
The technology has evolved and adapted remarkably over the years, becoming faster, more reliable, and more efficient.
The advent of the internet in the late 20th century dramatically transformed faxing. When internet faxing, or ‘fax over internet protocol’ (FoIP), emerged in the late 1990s, it pushed faxing technology into the digital age.
This new innovation allowed people to send and receive faxes via email or a web interface, thereby eliminating the need for a dedicated landline and enabling multiple documents to be sent simultaneously.
Then, as mobile technology developed, mobile faxing became a reality. Right now, you can use your smartphone to send a fax, and it’s just as easy as sending an email or a text message. A quick snap of the document with your phone’s camera, and it’s ready to be sent off, making faxing accessible no matter where you are.
Embrace Modern Faxing with FaxBurner
You’ve ventured with us through a stupendous journey of the fax machine, marveling at the sparks of genius that moved us from mere letter-writing to instant document transmission.
Be it for professional use or for those special moments that require a personal touch, the fax machine has been a true beacon of communication advancements.
Today, we’re at an even greater technological frontier with modern internet platforms that simplify faxing and make it more convenient.
FaxBurner is precisely one such platform. Built with an appreciation for the past, but with eyes firmly set on the future, FaxBurner takes the convenience of modern technology and combines it with the trusty functionality of classic faxing.
Contact us today for all your faxing needs.