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A Brief History of Fax Machine

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The fax machine came into existence in 1843 and since then it has served as a piece of valuable machinery for businesses to send documents. It comes with a delegated fax number and has securely helped organizations share documents without being physically present. However, the use has changed over the years as new inventions came along. 

This article talks about the invention process and those that have contributed to its evolution, and much more. 

Who Invented the First Fax Machine? 

The first fax machine ever created was invented by Alexander Bain who was a Scottish mechanic and inventor. He made the fax work by using a transmitter that scanned through a metal flat surface with the help of a stylus installed on a pendulum. It picked up images from the metal surface as he employed the skills of an amateur clockmaker with telegraph machines to create the fax machine. 

Bain was also an educationalist at the British school of empiricism while being a prominent figure. He founded the Mind which was the first-ever journal on psychology and analytical philosophy. As an inventor, he was known for his contributions to the scientific method of psychology. 

Since then it was improved upon by several other people and organizations. In 1924 alone, the AT&T Corporation, and the Radio Corporation of America (RCA) created an improved version that reduced the time frame for sending a single page of fax to 3 minutes.

In 2010, leading to 2011, the mobile version was created and allows for it to be available on the iOS and Andriod app stores. The functionality was also improved upon to allow businesses to do more with their documents. 

When Was the Fax Machine Invented?

The invention of the oldest fax machine can be traced to the 1800s. It started in 1843 when Alexander received a British Patent for working on the improvements for the production and regulation of electrical equipment such as the fax machine. 

He started experiments on the fax machine between the years 1843 and 1846 when he was made it possible to synchronize the movement of two pendulums through a clock. This was then applied by using the motion to scan a message as works in lines. 

However, Frederick Bakewell was then credited with making credible improvements to Bain’s invention. He developed an image telegraph which provided similar functionality to the fax machine used today. 

Bakewell’s invention took away the need for pendulums and introduced cylindrical motions that then created clearer images when they were synchronized.  Even though this form of faxing was not considered a complete success, it was an important step toward improvement. 

Fax Machine History Timeline

The fax machine has gone through an interesting timeline, as they have been constantly worked on over the years. Thus, here is a breakdown to answer the question, “when did the fax machine come out” and how it has evolved since:

  • 1843: The oldest fax machine was invented by Alexander Bain which was tagged as the “Electric Printing Telegraph”. This progressed to be the world’s first fax machine.
  • 1880: The scanning phototelegraphy was then invented by the English inventor Shelford Bidwell. This served history as the first telefax machine that had the ability to scan and send a two-dimensional image.
  • 1888: The TelAutograph was created by Elisha Grey that allowed users to send images of their signatures over long distances. 
  • 1924: AT&T Corporation had their scientists advance the fax technology a bot further through the sending of pictures through wire/telephone transmissions.
  • 1924: The Radio Corporation of America (RCA) invented the TransOceanic Radio Facsimile as a wireless transmission technology. It was used in successfully sending photographs between London and New York.
  • 1924: The color fax was developed by AT&T Corporation that serves as a fax device that is capable of sending the world’s first-ever color facsimile.
  • 1924: It took approximately only 6 minutes to send a single page over fax.
  • 1960: The U.S. Army used a satellite fax mechanism to send the world’s first photograph through a satellite facsimile from America to Puerto Rico. 
  • 1964: The telephone transmission was introduced and patented by the Xerox Corporation. They created the first commercialized type of the evolved fax machine using the telephone transmission. 
  • 1974: The sending time of single-page fax was reduced to 3 minutes.
  • 1982: A single fax machine was valued at $20,000.
  • 1982: The computer-based fax board was introduced by GammaLink which was called the GammaFax. 
  • 1996: The internet fax became a thing as it was made accessible to the general public. They could now send and receive a facsimile through a computer instead of a fax machine. 
  • 2010: The internet fax became available to Apple devices through the launch of the eFax as an iOS app. Users can now send faxes from their apple devices. 
  • 2011: Just like the Apple devices, the eFax was made available to Andriod devices through an android app. 

Do People Still Use Fax Machines? 

As technology continues to improve with each day, former inventions are becoming obsolete. They get replaced by newer, faster, and more secure options. In the first decade of the 21st century, there has been significant growth in the functions of the internet taking over the fax machine. 

Despite the fact that there are still several functions that can be accomplished solely by the fax machine compared to the global equivalent, there has been a decline in the use of fax machines. As of 2021, 82% of people still made use of faxes more than in the recent past. 

However, a fax machine still performs specific roles in the business world and organizations still have them while engaging other online options. Online faxing has brought the culture of fax to a whole new level and allowed for internet options. These are now accessible through emails and web-based interfaces instead of only the hardware options. 

From the mobile phone, people can now fax documents through the use of the eFax app for Android and Apple devices. They have increased the speed at which faxes are sent and received from 3 minutes to seconds. The faxed documents can still print out like real fax documents. 

Therefore, it can be said that the rate at which people or businesses engage the traditional hardware machines. The new options available on mobile devices still make use of fax numbers but only remove the need for machines. They also have improved functions that are not available in the traditional fax machine. 

The answer is, yes! People still fax


Fax machines came into existence in the 1800s and it has provided both a secure and reliable way for businesses to share documents between themselves. It uses a fax number connected to the machine and then inputted when faxes are sent. However, the original fax machine has changed since then and there are mobile versions now. 

Are still interested in using a fax machine? There is the online fax service provided by ULATEL that can work with your organization or personal needs. You can reach out to have a demo version try out.

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