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Facsimile Fulfills Its Promise.

Back in 1974 we tabbed progress in facsimile as one of the "ten tremendous development's of CN's first decade, headlining our article: "Sleeping Giant of Facsimile Awakens to Play Major Role in Communications". During the past decade "fax" has continued to grow at an even faster rate . . . and the former "sleeping giant" has to run very fast today just to keep his place in the rapidly expanding electronic mail race, because personal computers and word processors are in hot pursuit.

Electronic mail is "the main building block in the office of the future", according to The Yankee Group, whose research shows that 342 of the Fortune 500 companies currently use electronic mail systems, and that 76,000 mail-boxes exist on systems provided by EM services and an equal number reside on inhouse systems. The Yankee Group projects that more than 1.5 million will come into use by 1986.

Facsimile has been one of the cornerstones of electronic mail for many years.

The first facsimile process was demonstrated more than a century ago . . . 80 years before television! Alexander Bain in scotland demonstrated a workable fax method, in 1842, involving photographs. The photos to be transmitted were made of shellac on a metal base. At the transmitter, a stylus scanned the photo, then transmitted the image through telegraph wires to a pendulum at the other end, which bore upon chemically treated paper to reproduce the image. The pendulum was the means of synchronizing sending and receiving.

In 1869, the French inventor d'Arlemount obtained a patent on a method which used tuning forks to synchronize sending-receiving.

In 1902, Arthur Korn, German physicist, patented a method that used photoelectric cells for synchronization. At this point, interest was still concentrated on telephotography, or wire photos.

Serious experiments with facsimile did not begin in the United States until the 1920s, when AT&T, RCA, and Western Union began to develop picture transmission systems for the press. All three firms had their systems developed by 1924. In May of that year, AT&T transmitted a 5X7-inch picture from Eleveland to New York (over 500 miles) in 4.5 minutes. In July, RCA sent a picture by radio to and from England.

Dr. Herbert Ives, a Western Electric (and, later, Bell Labs) engineer, developed the AT&T "telephoto" system. In 1934, the Associated Press over AT&T's picture transmission system and called it "Wirephoto". The popularity of facsimile amongst other newspaper interests soon expanded tremendously.

On June 9, 1948, the Federal Communications Commission authorized commercial fax radio transmissions.

But, altho facsimile had been around for more than a century, its use did not really begin to grow significantly until 1968, when AT&T opened its commercial, conventional telephone lines to other business users. Before that time, elaborate radio equipment or expensive cross-country lines were required for acoustical (sound wave) transmission.

Ten years ago . . . in 1974 . . . it was estimated that 125,000 facsimile transceivers were installed in the United States, more than half of dial-up "convenience" fax machines.

The early facsimile equipment of the 1950s and 1960s retained some of the awkwardness of Alexander Bain's pendulum and message board. Documents and recording paper had to be hand-wrapped around a cylinder for sending and receiving Simplified controls and slot feeding have eliminated that problem. Also, early fax equipment (for wire photos, for instance involved transmission onto film. Direct transmission . . . so called because a visible copy is produced during the sending process . . . solved that problem. Early fax machines used a wetimaging method . . . transmitting material onto wet electrolytic paper. The equipment was bulky, complex, and costly because the need for humidity-controlled storage, drying elements, and long, large rolls of paper. Dry imaging--transmission onto dry electrosensitive paper made fax more practical and economical to use.

Stewart-Warner, Magnavox, Graphic Sciences and Xerox were among the pioneeers of modern facsimile equipment in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

In late 1970, Manufacturers Hanover Trust Company in New York City was processing an average of 225 messages daily through a Stewart-Warner Datafax network.

In 1972, electronic mail (such as "Mailgram," a joint venture by the United States Postal Service and Western Union) had a $33 million annual sales base.

In 1973 The Christian Science Monitor went to a higher speed newspaper facsimile system for transmitting full-page, high-quality proofs composed in Boston to remote printing plants in New Jersey, Illinois, and California.

The long delay in widespread use was an "image problem", literally as well as figuratively. Facsimile needed the level of technological sophistication achieved in the 1970s to become a real it. Photocells, amplifiers, transmission lines, modulators, miniature circuitry, computer software and microprocessors have brought us the facsimile machines that today are so important a part of office operation and the general business marketplace.

Since it installed a network of 35 facsimile machines, Lone Star Industries has speeded up monthly closings, reduced mail and courier costs and brought the company much greater telecommunications capability, says Nathan Mire, manager of telecommunications.

A facsimile network that permits a variety of documents to be rapidly relayed between headquarters in Hood River, Oregon and the field is playing an important role in the centralization effort of United Tel of the Northwest.

Georgia-Pacific has created an electronic communications network that allows the Atlanta, Georgia-based corporation to electronically tie together nearly three-quarters of its more than 400 facilities nationwide. Using facsimile transmission and teletypewriters, individuals at 280 at these locations are as close to their distant colleagues as the nearest terminal. Georgia-Pacific recently upgraded its facsimile network with the addition of a dozen new Telecopier 485 facsimile transceivers, bringing the total number of facsimile devices in its network to 65. The total network consists of the twelve 485 transceivers, nineteen 455 transceivers, and 33 earlier model units

McDonnell Douglas has long been one of the nation's largest users of facsimile equipment. After careful study, Paul O'Donnell, St. Louis-based communications manager for McDonnell Douglas, recently replaced his more than 200 old machines with a Pitney Bowes 8600 digital facsimile system and has seen the saving over the old system soar to over $500,000 a year!

Hilton Hotels recently signed an agreement with Air Couriers International to put 50 3M electronic facsimile machines into Hilton Hotels coast-to-coast for a service called "The Beam" to transmit documents over the Hilton telecommunications network in a matter of seconds. Air Couriers expects to ultimately have 600 cities on "The Beam".

In La Jolla, California a new company called "Postal Plus USA" has launched a facsimile network offering a service which guarantees delivery of documents within two hours at a cost of $12.50 for up to a four page document and $3.00 per page there-after.

The beginning of the general office facsimile business is benchmarked by a joint agreement between Magnavox and Xerox Corporation in 1966 to produce and market the Telecopier I, a facsimile machine specifically designed for the business environment. Since then, many other companies have entered the market elevating the total facsimile terminal population to nearly 350,000 in the United States and Canada, and 800,000 worldwide. This growth over the last 17 years has set the stage for the facsimile explosion that is currently upon us.

New facsimile machines are being introduced at a record pace. Exxon last year broke the $3000 barrier with its Qwip 2210 Group 3 digital fax machine with a price tag of $2,995. Rapicom recently introduced its "Saf-Pax" store-and-forward system and 3M countered with its fax networking product called "The Exchange".

Panafax introduced an interface into X.25 packet networks intended for Group 4 facsimile machines which are due to reach the market soon. Xeron recently added the Model 295 desktop Group 3 unit to its line.

Pitney Bowes has joined 3M and Exxon in the 4800-b/s Group 3 area with a 30-seconds-per-page unit. And Canon has introduced a Group 2 machine for under $2000.

The future seems bright, indeed, for the facsimile market. Arthur D. Little predicts that by 1990 the cost per page will drop below the price of a first class postage stamp, and believes that it is only a matter of time before facsimile copy quality will be on a par with that of office copiers.

International Resource Development forecasts that the overall facsimile market is projected to grow from shipments of 75,000 units worth $346 million in 1983 to 212,000 units worth $837 million in 1992. The average price per unit is expected to decline from $4,600 in 1983 to $3,900 in 1992 despite the advent of Group 4 machines. IRD sees Group 1 facsimile is already in its death knell, with only one vendor still shipping units and Group 2 likely to go the same route, beginning its decline in 1985.

Because of the development of a Group 3 unit with a 2,400 b/s modem, IRD feels two classes of Group 3 machines have been created. They predict that the 2,400 b/s or 4,800 b/s modems will catch on in the market, creating a product that will become the heir to the low-cost, convenience facsimile market, replacing Group 2 facsimile units by 1986. The 9,600 b/s Group 3 machines are also expected to grow steadily in shipments, although they are likely to slow late in the decade, reflecting the development of Group 4 and wideband facsimile. Group 4 facsimile is expected to emerge in 1986, but it is not until later in the decade after leading firms have installed wideband communication facilities that Group 4 is likely to emerge as a major facsimile market segment. Early units are expected to cost in the range of $18,000 for a printer and scanner, with prices declining to $14,000 for the pair in 1992.

Facsimile was a tremendous development during CN's first decade, its great growth was a "momentous happening" of CN's second decade, and its future seems bright indeed.
COPYRIGHT 1984 Nelson Publishing
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1984 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Publication:Communications News
Date:Sep 1, 1984
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