MEDA102: Assignment 1 (Fax Machine)



Scottish inventor Alexander Bain was the first to work on ‘chemical mechanical fax’ type devices in 1846, which was able to create graphic signs. He received a patent for his “Electric Printing Telegraph”. Frederick Bakewell, Giovanni Caselli, Sheldof Bidwell, Arthur Korn and Rudolf hell all improved upon this idea, the biggest leap in the technological advances was through AT&T, sending 15 photographs by telephone which would have only been possible previously via radio. Finally the western union “desk-fax” made the machine to be desktop suitable using special spark print paper.

Throughout the 1980’s the world of business and study, people became reliant on the fax machine as it become a simple way to transfer documents quickly and easier than previously possible, a press of a button could send documents to the other side of the world, the machine was straightforward and you were able to determine weather or not your message was received, this new way of transferring documents and sending messages would come to revolutionise the way we communicate with other human beings and further create other technology’s that would eventually surpass this method.

As the years pass we see the fax machine becoming more and more obsolete, from a number of reports this is seen as a result of modern technology’s, such as email. It is now much more simple to send email’s via your computer for business and study purposes, another reason for the dying nature of the fax is due to home phone lines, as mobiles take over the worlds telecommunication services it is evident that the land line is no longer very useful, as faxes are reliant on this it becomes difficult and the easier option becomes email.”The only “Pro” of a fax machine, that I can fathom, is that “everybody has one”.” (Jordan Sherer 2009) because of this it is shown the fax is still alive in today’s vast technological advances but it does not thrive, all other alternatives seem preferable, but the fax may still live a lot longer than previously thought.

The Fax Machines Communication Methods


Fax machines are connected through land lines, both devices, on receiving and sending ends need this to communicate. Encrypted codes are sent through the telephone line to inform the receiving line.

– To send a fax you feed the page into the input slot and it’s pulled between pairs of rollers.
– The larger machines have built-in document feeders that automatically feed the pages from a stack, so its not necessary to do manually.
– As they paper goes through a bright light shines onto it, reflecting the white and almost none of the black ink on the page itself.
– The ‘charged-coupled device’ is the light detecting device.

– The CCD (charged-coupled device) turns the analog patterns of black and white into binary which is a pattern of ones and zeros, basically in a language a computer understands, it passes this into an electronic circuit.

– The information is then sent down the telephone line to the receiving end.

– Once received the information is then passed onto a linked printer.

Translation and transmission

This process is not always reliable and problems can occur, anything from problems with the phone line itself or it being busy, also technical issues with rather the printer or the fax itself due of all the moving parts, when it comes to other forms of communication that we have today it is evident there are less moving factors such as just having a phone connected to a network that can easily connect to another phone, whereas through a fax everything has to be set up in the correct manner for both parties to have a smooth messaging network. It is much easier in this day and age if both parties have e-mail it firstly saves time and also has a more likely chance to be received by the other party. Texting and instant messaging have become a prominent platform for students and businesses to relay information onto one another, being able to send files through texting is also a factor that has played a role in the diminishing fax machine in this current climate.

For the above reasons fax machines have become less of a priority in an ever changing world, though they do still serve some purpose, a fair few businesses will still use them because everyone still has one and its used as a last resort or if a company has not updated their equipment which is quite prevalent in some company’s to this day. The fax machine will not become redundant until company stop keeping in their offices, so therefore they stay somewhat relevant in today’s society.



viewed on the 12th August 2015, < “;

Web Articles 

Woodford, C. 2010, Analogue and Digital, Explain That Stuff, viewed on 15th August 2015, <>

Ihlein, L. 2015, The Human Fax Machine, Bilateral, viewed on 11th August 2015, < >

Coopersmith, J. 2015, Faxed, John Hopkins University Press, viewed on 11th August 2015 < >

viewed on the 12th August 2015, < “;

viewed on the 12th August 2015, < “;

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