Time to Kill the Fax Machine

I recently came across a article from 2009 that discusses 10 obsolete technologies to kill in 2010 (hat tip Above the Law). The article is an interesting read. However, I practically cheered when I read the entry on fax machines. The other begins with:

The fax machine was obsolete 15 years ago. When someone says “fax it to me,” I always feel like I’m being punk’d. A fax machine is nothing more than a printer, scanner and an obsolete analog modem that work together to waste time, money, paper and electricity.

Talk about hitting the nail on the head.

The author then describes the process that it typically takes to send and receive a fax:

Documents that are faxed usually start out in digital format. So, to send a digital document digitally, it must be converted into a paper format. You insert the document, and the fax machine scans it back into a digital format. It then uses an analog modem from 1993 to convert the digital image into sounds!

The modem plays the noise over the phone line. At the other end, another fax machine also has a modem, which listens to the sounds, and converts them yet again into a digital document, just before it prints it out on paper. Now the data in the document has to be converted somehow into a digital format — either scanned or typed in by hand.

He then points out:

The document almost always begins and ends in digital format. But during this epic journey, the document is digital four times, paper twice and sound once.

Finally, he debunks the argument that I have never understood.

The mass delusion that perpetuates this obscenely inefficient technology is that paper “hard copy” is somehow more legitimate. In fact, gluing a copy of someone’s stolen signature to a document, then faxing it, is the easiest way mask a forgery because of the low quality of fax output.

Obviously, I agree with the author. My favorite point is the one he made in his first paragraph, “A fax machine is nothing more than a printer, scanner and an obsolete analog modem that work together to waste time, money, paper and electricity.” Let’s cut the waste. If you do have to fax, at least use a fax service, not an actual fax machine.

2 thoughts on “Time to Kill the Fax Machine

  1. Law firms still fax a lot (often because of the outdated rules of court). I finally took the fax number off our stationary. We use a digital fax service, but I agree a fax machine is obsolete. The output quality is so poor often you cannot read it. At least the digital fax services allow you to send in higher resolution and you should enable it.

    If only the rules allowed for service by email instead of just US mail and fax.

  2. What I have found is that local lawyers like the fact that the fax machine gives them a confirmation of the receipt at the other end. Not saying that email does not, but this is the reason a lot of the fax to email did not get a very good uptake here in South Africa.

    If the message got lost from the faxtomail server to the email address, there was no way for the sender to get confirmation that the fax failed, and it cost almost 3 times as much to send through these faxtoemail services.

    So people preferred to go from fax machine to fax machine – one must assume that with just about everyone on the planet having an email address, that faxes will just continue to die.

Comments are closed.