Big 20: Fax Machines
Twenty years ago many businesses faxed documents to each other. Fax machines were an odd transitional technology. It was faster than the mail or a courier service and considered cutting edge. You typed or printed a document and then placed it on a fax machine paper feeder or glass scanning plate like a photocopier. The machine slowly scanned a low resolution image and sent it at an equally slow telephone landline to a receiving fax machine. Hardcopy was on thermal or laser printed paper. Fax numbers were so popular that phone companies were worried they would run out of numbers.
The internet solved the problem. By twenty years ago you could buy a computer that had a fax modem. You could type a document and instead of printing it and taking it to the fax machine, you could send it directly from your computer. The phone line was still slow, but it saved a step, particularly if the person on the other end had a similar computer to receive it. The additional advantage was the document now had searchable text.
Email killed the fax machine. You could paste the text directly into the body of an email or attach a document to it. The paperless office that futurist had talked about for thirty years had arrived.
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