Fax Machines

 Alexander Bain_portraitMost people assume fax machines are newer than the telephone lines they use, but the first fax, Alexander Bain's ‘chemical telegraph’ was actually patented decades before the phone in the 1840’s.



Fax is short for ‘facsimile’ and the idea is create a replica of an original document at the other end of the telephone line. Even with the internet making it easier to scan and send documents, the fax machine still remains a staple in the majority of offices. 


How does a fax machine work?


A fax machine works by allowing an image to be transferred through telephone lines. It accomplishes this by digitizing the information to be sent so that it may be transferred very long distances almost instantaneously without the need for a physical medium along the way.


The process of sending a fax begins with inserting the document into the machine, which is then scanned and converted into a format that involves black and white dots, black dots record when information such as text is on the page and the white dots represent the blanks.


In order to create these black and white dots, fax machines use photo-diode sensor arrays. These devices contain from several hundred to a thousand tiny sensors that detect the composition of the text or images on the paper being faxed. It sees these as light and dark spaces, transferring what it sees into the fax machine ‘language’ of white dots and black dots.


Once the information on the page to be faxed has been converted into white and black dots, the fax machine then converts those dots to a series of sounds. This is done so that the information can be sent over a phone line in a series of electronic signals that the receiving fax machine can then decode. Essentially, the fax machine on the other end of the equation reverses the process: it receives a series of sounds, decodes them into black and white dots, and uses this framework to replicate the document.


fax machine 2  fax3 fax4



Fax machines have improved vastly over the years, with advancements in technology; it has meant that fax machines can now send documents in colour. For those of you that don’t have a colour fax machine, it won’t stop you being able to receive faxes as the more advanced fax machines will only send something that the receiving fax machine is capable of decoding and printing. This allows older fax machines and newer fax machines to work in perfect harmony!


Fax machines play an important part in modern businesses, allowing people to send documents without the need to post them which can take too long- especially when signatures on legal documents need to be returned urgently. Fax machines also allow for important documents to be sent without the risk of loss or damage- such as birth certificates or passports. For more information on the fax machines we sell, please call us or drop us an email at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it



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