UK Fax Machine Guide - Compare Fax Machines
Fax machines first came into being in the 1970s, as telecommunications and document production technologies became more sophisticated, and by the 1980s they were essential office equipment.
However, since the advent of email, fax machines have faced increasing competition from electronic document-transmission platforms, such as email, and although most offices still maintain fax capability, the majority of work is now done over the internet.
The exceptions to this include sensitive or confidential material, which cannot be sent over the internet without prohibitively complex levels of encryption, and legal documents requiring a signature, since in many countries electronic signatures are not recognized by law.
Nowadays the biggest worry for a business is that its entire system will be crashed by an email-borne virus, which leads to ever more sophisticated firewalls and spam filters.
But in the heyday of the fax machine, companies had to face the similarly frustrating issue of junk fax, or unsolicited messages – usually advertisements – that could clog up the office fax machine for days, wasting reams of expensive fax paper.
There was also the more entertaining phenomenon of 'faxlore', the forerunner of today's circular emails, in which jokes, cartoons and urban legends were circulated to a wide number of recipients.
Because it was transmitted in an office environment, the material was often work-related, including spoof meeting agendas, pretend announcements and personal in-jokes concerning people in the office.
There have also been several notable hoaxes circulated by fax, including a long-sustained myth in the 1970s and 1980s that LSD was being distributed to school children in the form of temporary tattoos.
However, despite the development of email, there is still a place for fax machines in the workplace, and many businesses have adapted to the changes in technology, replacing fax machines with fax servers: electronic systems that receive incoming faxes and store them electronically, before routing them to users by secure email.
Fax servers send faxes in TIF, PDF or JPEG format, and enable far greater mobility than traditional fax machines, since faxes can be picked up from any computer – or even from your Blackberry!
Fax servers are also far more environmentally friendly than fax machines, since they drastically reduce the amount of paper and ink used by the office, and mean that there's one less machine swallowing up valuable electricity.
So, despite the innovations and advances of email, there is still a place for the humble fax machine in today's office environment.