How did the Fax Machine outlive the VCR?

So this is slightly off topic. But I heard NPR on the way home today do a comedic eulogy for two pieces of technology: the Blackberry and the VCR. It seems the last maker of VCR’s is stopping production.

Incandescent Bulb by James Bowe Flickr

Incandescent Bulb by James Bowe Flickr

Well NPR did a survey and asked what other piece of technology should be vanquished? Not surprisingly the Fax machine was the number one answer.

I’m puzzled. People my age have boxes of old VHS tapes which I’ve yet to convert into some digital format. So at least there is a conceivable reason I might need a VCR. Maybe to watch an old family video before I decide to convert it for example.

Fax machines are just an extremely slow way to send an email. Bits are converted to audio signals to ride over the land line. Is there some contrarian notion that they are more secure?

When I do have to send a fax it seems like a total pain in the ass. I use the device so infrequently it’s a burden to use the menu. Do I enter 1, or 9 in front of the phone number? I can’t remember….

I’ll celebrate when the last makers of this archaic devices close the doors.


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2 Responses to How did the Fax Machine outlive the VCR?

  1. Len Mullen says:

    It’s really not that complicated. The VCR has been replaced by devices that do what it did better and cheaper. Except for home movies, most media can be replaced by better playing versions made for the replacement device. When you decide to upgrade your vcr, you do it in a vacuum.

    The FAX has been replaced by devices that do what it does less securely. In most cases, people do not care about the quality of the output of a FAX transmission. If you want to business with an entity that requires fax transmissions, then you have to have a FAX machine.

    As an example, the secure FAX is a very inexpensive way to immediately send classified communications which requires minimal support. There are 13,500 cleared contractor facilities.

    Wikileaks would be a lot less fun if the Clintons knew how to use a fax machine.

    • Greg says:

      I guess you could argue that the fax machine has some security benefits. Some of this might just be because it’s not as popular, analogous to how MACS were less vulnerable than windows machines for a long time.

      But is that the reason it is still around? Don’t most of the people using fax machines ALSO use email?

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