FAX (short for facsimile), sometimes called telecopying or telefax, is the telephonic transmission of scanned printed material (both text and images), normally to a telephone number connected to a printer or other output device. The original document is scanned with a fax machine (or a telecopier), which processes the contents (text or images) as a single fixed graphic image, converting it into a bitmap, and then transmitting it through the telephone system. The receiving fax machine reconverts the coded image, printing a paper copy. For many decades before digital technology became widespread, the scanned data was transmitted as analogue. The concept of the fax was created in 1842 when Alexander Bain invented a machine capable of receiving signals from a telegraph wire and translating them into images on paper; the fax machine as a business tool, however, did not become common practice until the mid-1980s. The driver for this shift in technology was the creation of a standard protocol in 1983 for sending faxes. Today, faxes are considered an essential function in every office, especially in many home offices. They provide an inexpensive, fast, and reliable method for transmitting correspondence, contracts, résumés, handwritten notes, and illustrations amongst many other types of documents.
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