Death and Faxes

Fax Machine IconFax machines are a fascinating anachronism. A modem fax machine is just a low-quality scanner and a dial-up modem. So why do faxes persist, when modems have gone the way of the dodo?

Not Real Till It’s on Paper

Faxes persist because of people who think that something’s not real or official until it’s on a piece of paper. I’d like to say it’s a generational issue, though there are enough exceptions — both young and old. In any case, it’s an antiquated notion. We are over three decades into the Information Age, and no matter how tightly you cling to paper, computer technology will have an effect on your life.

Leading by Example

So how can we hasten the demise of this clunky piece of technology? Evangelism won’t work. People are too damn stubborn. Better to lead by example. Get rid of your fax machine. The less people who have them, the less useful they become. Unfortunately, a lot of businesses don’t have that luxury. Doctors and lawyers in particular rely of these devices. For these kinds of businesses, there are Internet options, where you can fax from one computer to another, relegating facsimile to a specific file transfer protocol.

The March of Time

Ultimately, death itself will take care of fax machines. As Steve Jobs once said, “Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is Life’s change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new.”. When old people die, they take old ideas with them. Of course, by the time the fax dies off, other antiquated technologies will take its place. A generation from now, people may complain about the obsolescence of texts and tweets. Only time will tell.

Steve Lovelace

Steve Lovelace is a writer and graphic artist. After graduating Michigan State University in 2004, he taught Spanish in Samoa before moving to Dallas, Texas. He blogs regularly at

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2 Responses

  1. April 19, 2013

    […] know people who insist on emaiing files and editing them locally. I know people who still insist on faxing signatures. This boggled me for the longest time, until one day I realized the source of the […]

  2. April 24, 2013

    […] phone calls, meeting requests. Snail mail, faxes and sticky notes too. Schedule a meeting. Schedule another. Doing my work in the minutes […]

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