Evolution Of Fax – From Synchronized Pendulums To Online Faxing

In a couple of decades from 1980, there was hardly any office that did not have a fax machine. Even those offices that did not have fax machines were forced to look for public faxing services that were offered. The impact of fax may have come down over the following decades due to the emergence of the internet, however, fax still is relevant known for its quick transfer of images and documents across the globe.

Let us have a look at how this technology has evolved over time.


Alexander Bain has been credited with the first technology that could send an image over a wire.  He first synchronized the movement of a couple of pendulums with a clock and with that motion he was able to scan a message on a line by line basis. He patented this idea in 1843. Fredrick Bakewell then improved this idea by replacing the pendulums with rotating cylinders and created the first image telegraph.

Things got further improved by Giovanni Caselli and were called as Pantelegraph. This was a combination of Pantograph, which was a machine to copy drawing and words and telegraph, which was a machine to transmit messages over long distances. This was later developed with the assistance of Leon Foucault and successfully demonstrated to Napoleon II, who ordered it to be sued between Paris and Lyon in 1865, more than a decade before the telephone was patented.

Technological Improvements:

With advancements in technology, many inventions were done in the 1900s to improve image transfer better. Shelford Bidwell invented a device called as telephotography which used selenium cells that were connected to the telephone and could transfer images to a rotating cylinder.

The Heliograph was invented by Edouard Belin, which was able to measure the intensity of light and could impress the image to a photographic paper. This is similar to modern day photocopiers that are used. This was also capable of sending images to remote locations using the existing telephone and telegraph networks. Then came the Teleautograph, which was used solely to transfer signatures across different places. This was mainly sued in cases where signatures had to be verified.

Modern Technology:

Modern day technology then took it further ahead, wireless transmissions were made possible and then cops began using it to send pictures of suspects across countries.

Radiofax came into picture which sent fax messages over a radio signal. These are easy solutions in use for some deployments.
The first commercial version of a fax machine called as Long Distance Xerography was released by Xerox Corporation. Then came the Magnafax Telecopier that could connect to any telephone line and could transmit and receive faxes. Then came the color and the 3D versions which are more recent and uses latest technologies.


Any technology that is used across the globe has to have some standards, it encourages interconnectivity and reduces the cost for people and also helps prevent monopoly of a brand. Thus in 1980, the ITU G3 Facsimile standard was created by NTT Japan and KDDI. This was later agreed as an international standard. This was important because there are a variety of telephone manufacturers with different standards.

Computers, the Internet, and the Fax machine:

Computers revolutionized everything and the fax machine was not left behind. Instead of telephone, the Ethernet was added to the fax machines and it was able to connect to a network of computers. This led to computer based faxing and was an instant hit in the corporate world.

However, with the advent of the internet and numerous ways of sharing information easily and across computers, the fax machine began its decline. People could easily attach images to their emails and the need for faxing reduced drastically. This led to a downfall in sales of fax machines and the need for common fax machines again was felt.
This problem is now solved with the use of online fax facility. It is quite, easy and fast and one can just send the file that needs to be faxed as an attachment and also receive faxes. The beauty of this is that two companies can operate without a real fax machine but can still exchange faxes

The main advantage here is that they can be accessed anytime and from anywhere in the world, all you need is a connection to the internet and it is fast and simple. It is cost effective as based on usage one can choose a plan and this comes without the need to buy a real machine. Thus online faxing is the way the world of the fax is moving towards.