The Critical 'I'

Read. React. Repeat.

Monday, March 24, 2003

Some five years after the concept of email fully invaded the business office, the facsimile machine still refuses to cede it's territory in the workplace. But the fax is definitely on the downward slide, inexorably slow as it is.

I'm almost always surprised at the high numbers I encounter when dealing with dying technologies and trends, and this is no exception. I can't believe fax machine sales reached their peak as recently as 2000! I'd have guess they would have started to decline by that point. And even worse for someone who can't stand paper (like me), looks like the real reverse won't set in until 2006. Sigh.

Part of the reason is that the fax didn't really a very long heyday. This was a bit before my time, but I know the fax machine didn't really catch on as indispensible business equipment for all industries until the late 80s. So really, it wasn't even 10 years by the time email came along as an alternative. Especially with older people, it probably seemed like the fax had just stopped being the exotc new technology when an even newer option arrived. Plus, for many people, a document just doesn't seem "real" unless it's actually on a physical piece of paper; this is why people rather stupidly print out every single email they get.

I once worked for a guy who went through the fax-email cycle. He worked out of his home office, and communicated with the storefront office by phone and other means. "Other means" apparently meant sending over dozens of faxes every day! When I joined the firm, he had finally just been weaned off of serial faxing, and had moved on to the joys of emailing.