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Tech Thursday – Are Fax Machines Zombies? Because They Won’t Die.

So last time I checked the calendar, it was 2011. The 21st century. New technology is being developed all the time to improve on older tech or replace it. Some say my beloved hobby of Ham Radio is old and outdated, yet it proves it’s worth when disasters, like Irene happen. Then, there is tech like the fax machine. It’s like it’s a tech zombie because it won’t die.

The Q103 Fax Machine
Photo by Q103

Fax machines have been around since the mid 80’s. Long before email was being used. Email had already been invented and being used on D.A.R.P.A.’s networks that would evolve into the internet, but wasn’t available to the masses. But a fax is just a scanner that takes an image of a document, and sends it as a bitmap, or a .BMP graphic file, over a modem connection at a blazing 14,400 kbps. That’s a littler over 1k a second and then it’s printed on the other end, usually using a heat transfer printer in the receiving fax.

The question is, why? Scanning a document and then emailing it is much easier, and cheaper. If you have ever sent a fax, you know how long it can take. And if you do that everyday, and send them over a long distance connection you pay for, then the money adds up. at InfoWorld, suggests that a modern fax be the scanner, and then have an Ethernet connection to broadband. It would be cheaper and quicker. I see that as a much more viable solution.

But why are they still hanging on? Need a signature? You can use something like a system from Topaz to digitally sign a document then send it back. Or use an iPhone or iPad to sign it. But Zombie tech still holds on for some reason. Even in our own offices at Q103. But the day will come when all Zombie tech will be hunted down and destroyed making way for newer and better.


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