Fax Machines Are Stupid

It came to me today as a sudden revelation (an “ah-ha” moment) that our fax machine is a total anachronism, like something out of the 19th century.  Here it is the 21st century, and we are still sending back and forth images of paper documents over the phone lines, using an old-fashioned modem, completely independently of all the computer hardware that we use for everything else.  It’s as if we were using our computers for everything, but to do a spreadsheet we still used a slide-rule.  Or we lived in a parallel universe where computers did everything they do now except e-mail, and we kept around typewriters for writing letters.  Because of this fax machine we have to have a second phone line with long-distance service.  I spend money for this and then end up getting unsolicited spam faxes that use up my paper and ink.

I am looking into the alternatives.  I think eFax or something similar will work.  Faxes can be sent or received via email, where I can even view them on my Droid.  A good fast document scanner (useful not only for faxes, but to declutter the office of papers) will be necessary.  There will be a charge for the fax service, but I bet it will be less than having a second phone line, and the net result will be a decrease rather than increase in paper around the office.   I need to research what service to use and what scanner to get, but I’m sure this is the way to go.  Maybe next I’ll get rid of this teletype I am typing on and upgrade to a screen and keyboard (just kidding).

EP Studios teletype
One of the state-of-the-art teletypes here at EP Studios

By mannd

I am a retired cardiac electrophysiologist who has worked both in private practice in Louisville, Kentucky and as a Professor of Medicine at the University of Colorado in Denver. I am interested not only in medicine, but also in computer programming, music, science fiction, fantasy, 30s pulp literature, and a whole lot more.


  1. Sorry for such a late reply – you may have already gone with a fax service. One simle solution is to buy an printer/copier/fax/scanner you would not need a second line. The newer versions can be programmed to automatically pick up a fax call coming in on the second ring. You also can scan anything to your computer you wanted to have on the Droid(although more work – no fees involved. I would bring the fax/copier/scanner/printer into your home network as well. They are also now relatively inexpensive. The money you currently spend on the second phone line would pay for the new equipment.

    Downside is you need to answer after the second ring in case it is an incoming fax. You also need to let people know of the new fax number that is your home number.

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