Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Crazy Tech Question | Who’s still using the fax machine?

The world has mostly gone digital but there are still people who use the facsimile machine or fax machine. Are they holding on to the past or do fax machines still have an edge over all the so-called high-tech equipment and gadgets that are considered the “standard” stuff in 2018?

Kenneth Burke wrote “An Open Breakup Letter to Fax Machines” for a website called Text Request. The quirky public missive enumerates all the things that make the fax as out of place in 2018 as a foul-mouthed old man at prayer meeting.

Jonathan Coopersmith ? in his book Faxed: The Rise and Fall of the Fax Machine ? truly believed that the fax machine should be retired. He wrote: “Over and over again, faxing?s promise to deliver messages instantaneously paled before easier, less expensive modes of communication: first telegraphy, then radio and television, and finally digitalization in the form of email, the World Wide Web, and cell phones. By 2010, faxing had largely disappeared, having fallen victim to the same technological and economic processes that had created it.”

Image credit: ChtiTux (Wikimedia Commons)

However, Burke and Coopersmith’s hatred of fax machines is not universal.

In “Why Business Are Still Sending Faxes in 2018” ? an article published on ? Naoimi Young points out: “Partly out of fear of cybercrime and partly just because it’s the way things are done, many highly regulated industries, such as legal firms, pharmaceuticals and healthcare, government bodies, etc., only accept hard copies of legal documents. An e-signature might be enough for some people, but the legality of an e-signature is not universally recognized, and there are many people who don’t want to take the risk.”

Young cites Israel and Japan as two of the countries where faxing is still considered “utterly essential.” Moreover, as Eleanor Cummins pointed out in her Popular Science feature: “The decline of the fax has been underway for decades, but the true death of the machine will probably take much longer.”

In any case, it is now possible to fax documents without using a fax machine.


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