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Survey Results: Fax Machines Are Dead, But Faxing Is Still Very Alive

The king is dead! Long live the king! This traditional shout has been heard in monarchies around the world for […]

The king is dead! Long live the king!

This traditional shout has been heard in monarchies around the world for centuries. Substitute the word “fax” for “king,” and you have a pretty good description of the state of faxing in the world today.

Funny things happen on the way to the future. Some technologies that you’d think would disappear find new life, and others that you anticipate enjoying never materialize. Flying cars, where are you? A quick look at the statistics regarding faxing will show you what I mean.

Survey Says!

A comprehensive survey conducted by Opinion Matters found that in the United States, 85 percent of all office workers say they still fax, using either paper, electronic or online fax technology. The figure was 74 percent in the United Kingdom.

Further, 72 percent of US office workers say they rely on standard paper faxes. For the UK, the number was 60 percent. Let’s break it down even further.

  • 27 percent of US and 29 percent of UK office workers use an electronic fax server
  • 12 percent of US and 14 percent of UK office workers use an online fax service

Clearly, commerce still depends on faxing.

Fax Evolution

Perhaps this shouldn’t surprise us. After all, automobiles have been popular among the masses for 100 years or so, and despite the introduction of airplanes, helicopters, jets, high speed trains and other transportation options, we’ve heard that automobiles are still very popular. Cars have, however, evolved, and so have faxes.

Napoleon may have been among the first to fax a document; although, we doubt he signed the Waterloo surrender documents via fax. Inventor Giovanni Caselli demonstrated his pantelegraph to Napoleon in 1860. It could transmit graphic images between distant locations.

The first two cities served by the machine were Paris and Lyon. (Did they have FedEx Office stores back then?)

Let’s whiz past Xerox’s development of the first commercial fax machine in 1964 and the adoption of the international standard in 1980 and head all the way to 1985 when the first computer-based fax board was released on the market.

Online an On-board

While many offices still have a traditional paper fax machine tucked away in a corner, today, online fax services and fax technology that’s built onto circuit boards in our computers are more common.

Electronic faxing, whether it be through an online service or the use of local computers, software and servers, adds a good deal of flexibility to the process. Emails, webpages, word processing documents, PDFs, scans and much more can be easily turned into a fax document.

Security is always an issue, but it applies to both traditional faxes and virtually any online communication. In the survey cited above, about 50 percent of the people said they worried about paper faxes, and about the same amount said that at one time or another they had read a fax intended for someone else. Of course, with celebrities like Colin Powell and others getting their email accounts hacked, there are many reasons to be careful there as well, not to mention the viruses that are delivered via email. Faxes, either online or traditional, don’t have that problem. Further, it’s impossible to change the content of a fax, unlike emails and text file attachments.

Online fax services offer a great amount of flexibility and also eliminate a wide range of fax machine maintenance headaches and supply worries. In fact, the computer-based fax market will amount to something like $620 million in 2015. Online services also allow companies to control their fax budgets and pay for the level of usage they actually need. Of course, the need for a dedicated fax phone line goes away with online services as they provide the telephone number.

Some might remember receiving “junk” faxes on their old machines. For example, restaurants would send out unsolicited lunch menus. Online services eliminate those kinds of problems.

Pop Quiz

Question: Which country do you think has the highest per capita base of fax users?

Answer: Japan has 93 fax users per 1,000 people. The US comes in second at 55.

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License: Creative Commons

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Mira Yardan, who writes for, graduated with a Bachelor of Accounting and worked in Accenture for 2 years as a Help Desk Specialist where she was recognized for being a top representative based on customers’ survey. When not writing for Fax87, Mira can be found reading, dancing, playing badminton or taking care of her two active boys. Follow Fax87 on Twitter.

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