Fast Fax Facts: A Brief History of the Fax Machine [Infographic]

Tuesday, June 25, 2019 by The eFax Team

The fax machine has a much longer history than you might think! Invented back in 1843 by Alexander Bain, the "Electric Printing Telegraph" was the world's first faxing device. Since then, faxing has transformed many times, and is still widely used today.

At the beginning of the 20th century, the AT&T Corporation advanced fax technology by sending photos via wire transmission. Soon after, The Radio Corporation of America (RCA) successfully transmitted a wireless fax across the Atlantic Ocean. It wasn’t until decades later though that the first modern-day, commercialized fax machine was introduced by the Xerox Corporation.


Over the past 75 years, fax transmission time has reduced from an average of six minutes to an average of one minute. The classic "fax machine" of the 1980s (which cost $20,000 in 1982!) has also become obsolete, and faxes are now routinely sent from computers, smartphones or tablets.

eFax has paved the way for 21st century faxing with the convenience of online fax. Simply snap a photo of your document and digitally sign the fax right on your iOS or Android device, then send along to anywhere in the world with the tap of a button. Faxing has never been easier than it is now! Sign up for eFax today and see for yourself.

History of Fax Machine Infographic


The History of the Fax Machine

1843: Mechanical Fax — Alexander Bain invents the ‘Electric Printing Telegraph’ machine in 1843 which is the world’s first fax device.

1880: Scanning PhotoTelegraph — The English inventor Shelford Bidwell invents the Scanning PhotoTelegraph machine, which is the first telefax machine capable of scanning and sending a two-dimensional image.

1888: TelAutograph — In 1888 the TelAutograph machine was invented by Elisha Grey which allowed users to send signature images over long distances.

1924: Wire Transmission — Scientists at the AT&T Corporation advance fax technology further by sending photos by telephone/wire transmission.

1924: Wireless Transmission — The Radio Corporation of America (RCA) develops the TransOceanic Radio Facsimile and successfully transmits a photograph between New York and London.

1924: Color Fax — The AT&T Corporation invents a fax device which is capable of transmitting the world’s first color facsimile.

1924: 6 mins — It took 6 mins to send a single page fax.

1960: Satellite Fax — The U.S. Army sends the world’s first photograph via satellite facsimile from America to Puerto Rico.

1964: Telephone Transmission — The first commercialized version of the modern-day fax machine is introduced and patented by the Xerox Corporation using telephone transmission.

1974: 3 mins — It took 3 mins to send a single page fax – how long does an eFax transmission take?

1982: $20,000 — A fax machine cost $20,000.

1982: Computer Based Fax Board — GammaLink introduced the first computer based fax board, the GammaFax.

1996: Internet Fax — The first internet fax service is made available to the general public allowing users to send and receive a facsimile via a computer without fax machines.

2010: Internet Fax via Apple Devices — eFax launches iOS app, allowing users the ability to fax directly from their Apple devices.

2011: Internet Fax via Android Devices — eFax launches Android app, enabling users with Android devices to send faxes.


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