The notion of fax , from the English language, is an abbreviation of facsimile (or facsimile , in our language). The term has several meanings within the same context.
The first meaning of fax mentioned by the Royal Spanish Academy (RAE ) in your dictionary refers to a system that enables the graphics and text transmission through the telephone line . By extension, the fax is called machine that allows this communication and at document that is sent or received through this method.
In essence, this system it requires a fax machine to scan and process the document it is intended to send; a telephone line where the data circulates; and another fax machine, this time to convert the information and print the document.
Suppose a person that is in Madrid (Spain ) want to send you a contract model to another individual who is in Montevideo (Uruguay ). Who is in the Spanish capital takes the contract model and enters it in the fax to scan it: the text thus becomes a bitmap (a still image). This bitmap travels on the telephone line to which the fax is connected and reaches the recipient's fax in the Uruguayan territory. There, the receiving equipment performs the reverse process, converting the bitmap and printing it on a new paper.
This type of communications was very popular for several decades. However, with the advancement of digital technology and the development of Internet , lost preponderance and today is almost not used. It is faster, easier and cheaper to send and receive documents via email or other systems based on the Web .
Despite what it may seem, the fax came a long time before the phone. In fact, it was part of the so-called Information Age, as one of the new means by which the human being intended to communicate efficiently and economically. With him phone and the telegraph, among other inventions, laid the foundations of the degree of global interconnection that we enjoy today thanks to the Internet.
The person who created the necessary technology to send an image through a cable was Alexander Bain , of Scottish origin, and this resulted in him being recognized as the inventor of the fax. His work dates from the first half of the nineteenth century; already in the year 1843, he was developing a prototype that harnessed electricity and combined it with the Telegraph .
One of Bain's first experiments was to mount two pendulums with needles to synchronize his movement by means of a clock, thanks to which it was possible to scan a surface of a line and send it to a receiver. While he didn't create the device in itself, in May of 1843 he patented a document in which he detailed a series of improvements to produce and regulate electrical currents in fragments of time, telegraphic signals and electrical printing.
In 1851, an English physicist named Frederick Bakewell invented an "image telegraph" that looked a lot like the fax devices we know today, and offered improvements over Bain's creations, such as the use of rotary cylinders instead of pendulums to achieve a quality of image higher.
It was only in 1862 that Giovanni Caselli , an Italian physicist, manufactured a machine called panthelographer, which was also based on the invention of Bain and he improved it. This device was the first to be used commercially to transmit images.