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Flashback Friday: Fax Machines

by Sean P. Aune | August 17, 2012August 17, 2012 11:00 pm PDT

Flashback FridayAh, fax machines. One of those devices that everyone very clearly had a love/hate relationship with, and still do.

Our own Adriana Lee wrote up this week how she had a recent battle with these relics of yesteryear, and it got me all nostalgic for the days of thermal paper. I can’t remember precisely when I got my first fax machine, but I want to say it was 1990, probably 1991 at the latest. At the time I had my retail store and we were running bi-weekly ads in a collector publication. As these were the days before email was big, or even floppy drives being everywhere, I had to get 17 printed pages to the printer every other week. As this was the early days of the technology, the machine could only hold one page at a time, so I would have to stand there and hand feed each page, and, without fail, the call would always drop somewhere around page nine.

Then I hait on an “a-ha moment!” and realized I printed this out on a dot matrix printer with the spool style paper. What if I didn’t tear the pages apart, and instead just fed page one and let it pull the subsequent 16 through? I gave it a try, the publisher said it worked on their end, my misery of standing next to the machine was over.

Over the years I have owned numerous fax machines, and I occasionally still find myself having to send one here or there. Hospitals in particular really seem to still love these things, but I have no clue why. (Same with pagers if you remember correctly.)

When email came along and I could just attach documents, or even just paste all the text into the body of the email, I thought I had died and gone to heaven. I don’t miss fax machines in the least, or the stupidity of having to have a dedicated fax line in my business. If you can’t email the documents to me now, please go away.

(As for the commercial above … can you imagine firemen waiting around for a fax?)

Sean P. Aune

Sean P. Aune has been a professional technology blogger since July 2007, but his love of tech dates back to at least 1976 when his parents bought...