A little Fax history!
The first attempts at sending an image via a wire actually occurred before the invention of the telephone, way back in 1846. The first actual Fax patent was issued in 1943 to Alexander Bain. However it was not until the 1970's that fax machines became a device that was reliable enough, small enough and cost effective enough for use in daily business.
Dacom built the first sub minute per page fax machine using compression technology that was originally designed for satellite communications. It was not until the late 1970's that the traditional sense of a fax machine as a device that was required for daily work and sat on a desk was born true. This was mainly due to many companies entering the fax market and pushing the technology forward in great leaps.
So what is a Fax?
A fax, facsimile, telefax or telecopying is a process to describe the sending of an image over an extended distance. The most common format of this in the modern age is to scan an A4 piece of paper. Once scanned the image is digitised into a digit format. Generally this digital data is modulated so that it can be sent down an analogue phone line. At the receiving end the signal is demodulated into a digital message which is read and printed back to an A4 piece of paper.
As technology progressed, so did the speed at which faxes could be sent. The faster a fax can be sent down a standard phone line - the cheaper that call / fax is. With the original fax machines taking upwards of six minutes a page to send, the latest V.34 fax modems can send pages in a matter of seconds.
As digital technology became more and more a part of everyday life - so did the ability to send faxes directly from a digital device. Mainly sending faxes from your computer or laptop. Most laptops have a modem built in, with desktops requiring an external modem device. Both work in the same way as a standard fax machine, except instead of scanning a page in first - the page already exists in a digital format on your screen.
Sending a fax across the internet.
Perhaps seen as the last great effort for the fax to carry on in the modern age is the ability to send a fax without necessarily needing a phone line of modem. There are many many fax services online that will take the pages you want to fax, encode them and send the fax on your behalf. Costs generally work in one of two ways. Either Free - whereby the company sending the fax appends an advert to the fax to offset the costs, or by subscription whereby you pay a monthly fee for the use of the service.
One of the most popular ways this works is by sending an email with an attachment to your Fax provider. They read the attachment and fax it for you - also known as an Fax to Email service or Email to Fax service.
See all the free fax services on our free faxing page, we have compiled the best on the web for you to decide what service level you require.