The Fax Machine: Welcome to 1985

Friday, April 20, 2007 - 08:53 AM

A company that frequently orders Sheldon books always places their order by fax machine.

For you youngins out there, that's a "fascimilie" machine. It's a telephone-based reproduction system that was invented in, oh, 1924, and really picked up in popularity in, oh, I don't know, THE 198O'S.

Anyway, I thought I'd share this phone conversation I had with their ordering department, regarding their use of the fax:

ME: Hi. I currently get your book orders by fax, and was wondering if there was any way to migrate that process to e-mail?

THE COMPANY: Ooo...I'm sorry, sir. We can only do it by fax.

ME: You don't have e-mail?

THE COMPANY: No, no...I do. We all do. But we can't physically send out this document by e-mail.

ME: Why? Are the documents produced on a typewriter?

THE COMPANY: I don't follow.

ME: Well, the document is produced on a computer, yes?

THE COMPANY: Yes.

ME: Well, e-mail is also handled by a computer. You can just attach the document. Most e-mail systems from the last decade or two can do it.

THE COMPANY: Ooo...I really wish we could, but...um...you know...

ME: What?

THE COMPANY: We're stuck in 1985, and don't really like to do business in your magical future-world of electronic wizard powers.

OK, that last line didn't happen, but, c'mon, really? A fax machine? That's the best we can do? Are we doing business in Uzbekistan?

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