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Fascinating facts about the invention of the Fax Machine by inventors Alexander Bain, Elisha Gray, Arthur Korn, and Edouard Belin beginning in 1843. FAX MACHINE
The use of the fax machine to transmit images via telephone lines did not become common in American businesses until the late 1980s, but the technology dates back to the nineteenth century. In 1843 in England, Alexander Bain (1818-1903) devised an apparatus comprised of two pens connected to two pendulums, which in turn were joined to a wire, that was able to reproduce writing on an electrically conductive surface. Fax Machine
In 1862, the Italian physicist Giovanni Caselli built a machine he called a pantelegraph (implying a hybrid of pantograph and telegraph), which was based on Bain’s invention but also included a synchronizing apparatus. His pantelegraph was used by the French Post & Telegraph agency between Paris and Marseilles from 1856 to 1870.

Elisha Gray (1835-1901), American inventor, born in Barnesville, Ohio invented and patented many electrical devices, including a facsimile transmission system. He also organized a company that later became the Western Electric Company.

In 1902, Arthur Korn (1870-1945) in Germany invented telephotography, a means for manually breaking down and transmitting still photographs by means of electrical wires. In 1907, Korn sent the first inter-city fax when he transmitted a photograph from Munich to Berlin.

In 1925, Edouard Belin (1876-1963) in France constructed the Belinograph. His invention involved placing an image on a cylinder and scanning it with a powerful light beam that had a photoelectric cell which could convert light, or the absence of light, into transmittable electrical impulses. The Belinograph process used the basic principle upon which all subsequent facsimile transmission machines would be based. In 1934, the Associated Press introduced the first system for routinely transmitting "wire photos," and 30 years later, in 1964, the Xerox Corporation introduced Long Distance Xerography (LDX).

For many years, facsimile machines remained cumbersome, expensive and difficult to operate, but in 1966 Xerox introduced the Magnafax Telecopier, a smaller, 46-pound facsimile machine that was easier to use and could be connected to any telephone line. Using this machine, a letter-sized document took about six minutes to transmit. The process was slow, but it represented a major technological step. In the late 1970s, Japanese companies entered the market, and soon a new generation of faster, smaller and more efficient fax machines became available.

TO LEARN MORE

RELATED INFORMATION:
History of Office Equipment   from The Great Idea Finder

ON THE BOOKSHELF:

100 Inventions That Shaped World History
by Bill Yenne, Morton, Dr. Grosser (Editor) / Paperback - 112 pages (1993) / Bluewood Books 
This book contains inventions from all around the world from microchips to fire. This is a really good book if you are going to do research on inventions.

Laser Fax Guide
by Better Buys For Business
/ Paperback: 80 pages / Progressive Business Publications; (2001)
Comprehensive unbiased reviews of every laser fax machine on the market. Includes performance tests, price comparisons, Editor's Choice top selections, buying tips and more that save you time and money.

ON THE WEB:
The Fax Machine
SciTech, Carbons to Computers series from the Smithsonian Institution.The facsimile machine was invented in 1842 by Alexander Bain, a Scottish clockmaker, who used clock mechanisms to transfer an image from one sheet of electrically conductive paper to another. Bain patented the "automatic electrochemical recording telegraph" in 1843.
(URL: www.smithsonianeducation.org/scitech/carbons/fax.html
)

Alexander Bain & the Fax Machine
The patent for the fax machine was granted on 27 May 1843, 33 years before the patent was given for the telephone.
(URL: www.sciencenet.org.uk/Origins/telecom.html)
Alexander Bain
At the age of twelve he went to hear a penny lecture on science which, according to his own account, set him thinking and influenced his whole future.
(URL: www.bbc.co.uk/dna/h2g2/A319763)
3D Fax Machine Project
There is a growing interest in the graphics, vision, and manufacturing communities in building an inexpensive device capable of digitizing the shape and external appearance of objects for transmission, display, and numerically controlled fabrication.
(URL: graphics.stanford.edu/projects/faxing/)
Send Faxes From Your Browser
An online service that lets you send faxes to anyone from any web-enabled computer. If you can get to a web page, you can send a fax to any fax machine in the world.
(URL: wp.netscape.com/qwest/fax/)
Fax Machine Online
Get your own email address, and start receiving email on your fax machine, without a computer or Internet Service Provider. 
(URL: www.faxmachinesonline.com)

HOW IT WORKS:
Facsimile Transmission, or fax, communications system for the electrical transmission of printed material, photographs, or drawings. Facsimile transmission is accomplished by radio, telephone, or undersea cable. The essential parts of a fax system are a transmitting device that translates the graphic material into electrical impulses according to a set pattern, and a synchronized receiving device that retranslates these impulses and prints a facsimile copy. In a typical system the fax scanner consists of a rotating cylinder, a source projecting a narrow beam of light, and a photoelectric cell. The copy to be transmitted is wrapped around the cylinder and is scanned by the light beam, which moves along the cylinder as it revolves.
The output of the photoelectric cell is amplified and transmitted to the receiving end, where a similar cylinder, covered with specially impregnated paper, revolves in synchronism with the transmitting cylinder. A light of varying intensity moves along the rotation cylinder and darkens the paper by chemically reproducing the pattern of the original.

DID YOU KNOW?:

  • Between 1973 and 1983, the number of fax machines in the United States increased from 30,000 to 300,000, but by 1989 the number had jumped to four million. By the late 1980s, compact fax machines had revolutionized everyday communications around the world.
  • In 1876 Elisha Gray filed an unsuccessful claim for the invention of the telephone, just hours after American inventor Alexander Graham Bell filed his successful patent for its invention.
  • Telefacsimile (tel’a-fak-sim -ie) machines (telefax or fax)

 

Reference Sources in BOLD Type This page revised February, 2005.
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