Right. Last night I wrote about 8-track tapes, a vague part of my 1960s and ’70s childhood at the Manse that were, in my opinion, pretty close to the worst technology ever. Certainly the worst music technology ever – though the interesting folks at a site I linked to in that post, 8-Track Heaven (“If we don’t care for the 8-track, who will?”), might disagree.
So this evening as I was enjoying my weekly read of the Tweed News – catching up on the goings-on at the Chapman Women’s Institute and the winners at the weekly euchre party, among other things – I came across another entertaining reminder of technology that has mercifully faded away: fax machines. Remember those?
I mean, I know most of us do still occasionally have some connection with a sent or received fax – for instance, in my experience the medical community is still unaccountably attached to faxing, for things like prescription renewals and whatnot – but really, when most people (including doctors, if they actually tried) can scan a document on their printer and email it on their computer, who needs fax machines?
The Tweed News’s always-entertaining Days Gone By column has given me a smile in reminding me of when that clunky technology was so new and promising. Listen to this, from the Tweed News of 25 years ago – March 1, 1989 (which, truth be told, feels like yesterday), to be exact:
Just the fax – The facsimile (FAX) machine has become almost as common an office feature as the personal computer. The FAX works through a telephone line to deliver hard copy to another FAX machine. Their advantages are that the material is received almost instantaneously, and the machines can reproduce handwriting, computer print-outs, and typed pages and pictures. David Newman of Canada Post said that although the FAX is gaining popularity, “it has no appreciable effect on the post office.” He said in this information age, the annual volume of mail is growing each year, including business mail. “FAX doesn’t take away from the market area. It’s not cheap ($2 base charge plus $4 per page), but it’s not priced out of the market. People said TV would make the radio obsolete, and it didn’t. Not everyone has a FAX, and Canada Post is the only organization that walks by 10 million doors a day.”
Now, you will surely see that there are two astounding and ironic figures in that passage. One: $4 a page to send a fax? That’s just nuts. And two: Canada Post’s spokesman boldly announcing that this technology business was no threat whatsoever to an organization that “walks by 10 million doors a day.”
Ah, how times change.