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Alberta's Telephone Heritage
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Fax

English inventor Alexander Bain patented the first facsimile machine in 1843, about three decades before the telephone came into existence. This machine could reproduce writing through signals sent over a modified telegraph wire, but proved more unwieldy than merely sending a message by telegraphy.

Fax machines This did not stop a few hardy souls from trying to improve upon it, however, and Dr. Arthur Korn of Germany built the first photoelectric fax machine in 1902. Twenty-three years later, French inventor Edouard Belin followed in his footsteps by constructing a new kind of fax machine.

The Belinograph scanned pages with a powerful light source that translated dark and light spaces into electrical signals of different strengths.

Using a variant of Belin’s technology, the Associated Press began transmitting photos over the "wire" in 1934.

Fax machine Despite these advancements, however, fax machines still remained expensive to buy and complex to operate. This changed in 1966, when Xerox introduced the Magnafax Telecopier. At 37 pounds (17 kilograms), the Magnafax was lighter than its progenitors, and quite a bit faster as well. Documents and images could be sent at a rate of six minutes per page along an ordinary phone line.

These machines were not feasible in Alberta until 1979, when the telephone companies put up new wires capable of handling the increased data. Since then, fax machines have become more compact and accessible to the point where nearly anybody can own one.


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