Inventions and Discovery ----------Fax Machine


Fax Machine

Fax (short for facsimile), sometimes called telecopying or telefax, is the telephonic transmission of scanned printed material (both text and images), normally to a telephone number connected to a printer or other output device. The original document is scanned with a fax machine (or a telecopier), which processes the contents (text or images) as a single fixed graphic image, converting it into a bitmap, and then transmitting it through the telephone system in the form of audio-frequency tones.

A fax machine from the late 1990s
                                                                                     


The receiving fax machine interprets the tones and reconstructs the image, printing a paper copy. Early systems used direct conversions of image darkness to audio tone in a continuous or analog manner; since the 1980s most machines modulate the transmitted audio frequencies using a digital representation of the page which is compressed to quickly transmit areas which are all-white or all-black.

The history of the fax machine goes back over 160 years. Alexander Bain is credited with inventing the first fax machine patented in England in 1843. "Bains Telgraph" was simply two pens attached to pendulums connected by a telegraph wire. The pendulums passed over chemically treated paper and made stains when an electrical charge was sent down the telegraph wire.
  
Bain's improved facsimile 1850
                                                                             

The next major advancement in fax technology occurred in 1848 when Frederick Bakewell invented a conducting roller. Revolving drums covered with treated tin-foil were used to transmit and receive recorded images. Amazingly, this technology was widely used into the 1960's.


Bakewell's improved facsimile 1848
                                                        


In 1860 Giovanni Caselli patented a "Pantelegraph" in France which eventually became the first commercial fax machine. A fax service was established between Paris and Lyon and was used from 1865 to 1870. Reportedly the service transmitted over 5000 faxes per year.

Pantelegraph
                                                                                                                     




Caselli's pantelegraph mechanism


American inventor, Professor Elisha Gray founded Gray National Telautograph Company in 1888 which later became Western Electric Company. Gray had patented a process whereby handwriting could be transmitted between distant points over a two-wire circuit. Gray's Telautograph was the first fax machine that used standard stationary paper. Incidentally, two years earlier Elisha Gray lost out to Alexander Graham Bell by three hours for the patent on the telephone.



Gray's Telautograph



During 1902, Dr. Arthur Korn from Germany developed a photoelectric process for telephotography which broke down and sent still photographs over telephone lines. From 1907 to 1910 Korn established a major commercial enterprise which linked Berlin, London and Paris thus becoming the world's first facsimile network.

Edouard Beeline from France made the next major contribution to the fax machine in 1913. His "Belinograph" incorporated the use of photoelectric cells that could convert light into electrical transmissions. This technology is still in use today.


Belinograph BEP2V wirephoto machine by Edouard BĂ©lin, 1930

   

The first transatlantic fax services


The 20's and 30's saw the continued advancement and use of the fax machine. In 1922 the first transatlantic fax services were provided by RCA. In 1925 AT&T introduced the wirephoto. RCA followed up with the radiophoto in 1926.

The first major users of fax services were newspapers that transmitted and received photographs from around the world. The next major users were weather services that faxed weather charts around the world. Leading up to World War II, fax services were also used by the military to transmit maps, orders and weather charts.


Alexander Bain

The first fax machine was invented by Scottish mechanic and inventor Alexander Bain. In 1843, Alexander Bain received a British patent for “improvements in producing and regulating electric currents and improvements in timepieces and in electric printing and signal telegraphs”, in laymen's terms a fax machine.

Several years earlier, Samuel Morse had invented the first successful telegraph machine and the fax machine closely evolved from the technology of the telegraph.

The earlier telegraph machine sent morse code (dots & dashes) over telegraph wires that was decoded into a text message at a remote location.

How Did Alexander Bain's Machine Work?

Alexander Bain's fax machine transmitter scanned a flat metal surface using a stylus mounted on a pendulum. The stylus picked up images from the metal surface. An amateur clock maker, Alexander Bain combined parts from clock mechanisms together with telegraph machines to invent his fax machine.

Fax Machine History

Many inventors after Alexander Bain, worked hard on inventing and improving fax machine type devices.

    In 1850, a London inventor named F. C. Blakewell received a patent what he called a "copying telegraph".

    In 1860, a fax machine called the Pantelegraph sent the first fax between Paris and Lyon. The Pantelegraph was invented Giovanni Caselli.

    In 1895, Ernest Hummel a watchmaker from St. Paul, Minnesota invented his competing device called the Telediagraph.


    In 1902, Dr Arthur Korn invented an improved and practical fax, the photoelectric system.

    In 1914, Edouard Belin established the concept of the remote fax for photo and news reporting.

   In 1924, the telephotography machine (a type of fax machine) was used to send political convention photos long distance for newspaper publication. It was developed by the American Telephone & Telegraph Company (AT&T) worked to improve telephone fax technology.

    By 1926, RCA invented the Radiophoto that faxed by using radio broadcasting technology.
    In 1947, Alexander Muirhead invented a very successful fax machine.
    On March 4, 1955, the first radio fax transmission was sent across the continent.


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