Personal Computing Faxing in the Age of the Internet

October 1998
by Reid Goldsborough

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Ever since Internet-based e-mail became widespread, I’ve regarded faxing as a dinosaur technology-big, slow, and destined for extinction.

Faxing without a computer requires a fax machine and often a dedicated phone line, which can be unwanted expenses. Faxing with a computer entails sending huge amounts of bitmapped data, which is a lot slower than sending text-based e-mail or even e-mail with attached files that preserve the fancy formatting. What’s more, computer-based faxing forces you to buy a scanner to fax paper-based documents. For receiving documents, if you want to use a single phone line for both voice and fax, you need to tell the faxing party to phone you first before faxing, so you can instruct your fax software to intercept the next incoming phone call. Or you can use a call-manager product in conjunction with your phone company’s distinctive ring feature.

Clunky, clunky, clunky.

This is why I’ve avoided faxing whenever possible. But there are times when faxes are unavoidable, such as when someone needs to send you a document but isn’t computer-savvy enough to e-mail a file attachment or when you need to send a document to someone who doesn’t have e-mail access.

In situations like these, I would load up WinFax and grin and bear it. But a number of Internet-based fax services have recently come into existence that combine the speed and low cost of e-mail with the ubiquity of faxing. Just as dinosaurs weren’t as clumsy as they’re commonly perceived, ma…IBPA Members – Click here to view the full article (login required).

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