In the January, 2009 issue of Wired, there is an article called: Burning Question - Why are faxes still around? Good question. In the 1990's, I made a reasonably good living consulting with companies around the world about building, marketing and selling information about fax technology and its many offshoots with my company Human Communications. During that time, computer based fax had a very good ten year run and the fax machine was everywhere, but the coming of the Internet threatened to change all of that.
By the close of the decade, I was advising my clients to develop new business models that didn't depend so much upon fax. However, at the same time, I was teaching them about the latest high speed fax (V.34 @ 33.6 kilobits / second) and about the new hot movement, Internet Fax.
The conventional logic at the time was that the Internet was here and nobody needed fax anymore. My view was much more complex. I saw lots of good uses for fax as it existed, but wondered how people would communicate documents over the Internet.
Now, it's ten years later, and fax is still alive and well. It's not as sexy as it seemed to be in the early 90's, but fax machines are everywhere and fax servers are still very common in corporate offices, especially for receiving faxes that will be directed into email boxes. Many corporate citizens never use fax at all, but it's a mode of communication that has fewer dependencies than email (can you read that attachment, does it contain a virus?) and reaches into the smallest office. In my own case, it's still the preferred way to upload information to our corporate expense report system or to send on medical receipts to an insurance company.
Fax. It started running over telegraph wires, took all of the telephone technology developments in stride and now can run over the Internet. It's not perfect, but it does the job of sending paper documents over phone or Internet lines very well. So, think twice before you get rid of that fax machine or opt not to get the fax feature in your next multi-function printer.