Fax machines are so 1980s, along with shoulder pads and big hair. They’re another fast-disappearing cultural icon, rapidly being replaced by fax by email services and handy little apps that can do marvelous things from small handheld devices like phones and tablets. But while fax machines are vanishing, the need to send faxes is not. What’s changed it how you send faxes.

A Very Brief History of the Fax Machine

Fax machines were a staple of offices and home offices through the 1980s and ‘90s. Fax machines send and receive documents with text and images via a phone line that is connected to a printing device. The technology behind creating facsimiles, or the exact reproductions of documents, however, has been around for much longer, since the nineteenth century. The first office fax machine was made by the Xerox company in 1914.

The devices became popular office staples in the 1980s, and are used to send authentic documents. With the advance of internet technology, traditional fax machines have faced tough competition from mobile apps and email fax systems. These carry out the same functions as fax machines, but add many convenient features. When you send fax online, you’re converting your documents to PDF format and sending them to someone’s email.

Why You Still Need to Send Faxes Today

While fax machines are on the way out, the need to send faxes is still very much present. While you can use electronic signatures for many purposes, some industries and offices, like medicine and law, still need physical signatures on authentic documents that haven’t been tampered with. Faxes still offer a higher level of security than the online environment. Many legal and medical offices as well as insurance companies are still required by law to maintain hard copies of records.

Another situation in which you might need to send a fax is if you’re dealing with businesses around the world. In many countries like Japan, faxes are part of the culture and regular business practices. So if your business has a global reach or aspires for it, you might need to send a fax. Here are some situations in which you might find that you need to send a fax.

Medical office

Medical emergencies by definition don’t wait for a clear day on your schedule to happen. And if they do happen, you may find that you need to send documents like your medical history and even consent forms to doctors offices and hospital departments. Faxes are still officially recognized as authentic copies of documents in fields like law and medicine. Insurance companies too need documents that have been securely transmitted.


Like medical emergencies, you don’t plan to have a run-in with the law. It may that your kid got pulled over for a DUI or that you were in an accident that wasn’t your fault at all. In any case, you may find yourself unexpectedly dealing with the law and lawyers.

Sending documents overseas

You may be doing business with people in countries that still use fax machines as a matter of course. In Japan, for instance, though people are quick to adopt the latest online technology, fax machines are a common sight in offices, homes, and convenience stores.

Sending Faxes on the Internet

While there are still many different situations in which you might need to send a fax, the technology you use is likely to be very different from the 1980s office fax machine. Most fax systems now connect via the internet and send faxes to email addresses or to special fax numbers. Online fax services typically charge a monthly fee, which gives you an account, a free fax number, and a large number (around 500 pages) of free faxes every month. You can add services as they are needed or as your business grows.

Even though fax machines are outmoded pieces of  office equipment, the need for faxes is very much around. There are all kinds of situations in which you still need to send faxes, when secure transmission of authentic documents is needed. The big difference is in the technology you might use to send a fax. Online fax services and phone fax apps have revolutionized the process.

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