eFax Blog

Fast Fax Facts: A Brief History of the Fax Machine

Wednesday, August 31, 2016 by 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. At the beginning of the 20th century, the AT&T Corporation advanced the technology by faxing via wire transmission. Soon after, The Radio Corporation of America (RCA) successfully transmitted a wireless fax across the Atlantic Ocean.

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 has also become obsolete, and faxes are now routinely sent from computers, smartphones or tablets.

Step into the 21st century of faxing with eFax! 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 a free trial of eFax today and see for yourself.

History of Fax Infographic



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.


2010: Internet Fax via Apple Devices

eFax launces 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.


2016: F1 Engine Rules by Fax

The high-speed world of Formula One is waiting for final confirmation by fax of the sport’s 2017 engine regulations.


eFax Team - eFax Team

eFax is the world’s #1 online fax service, and we have been for nearly 20 years. More than 11 million customers use eFax every day to send and receive business faxes online, including small businesses around the world and nearly half of the Fortune 500.