The eFax Blog

Not Just Acceptable in the 80s: Why Fax Isn’t Legacy Technology

Dec 3, 2019 - by eFax Team

When Calvin Harris recorded his classic electro-funk hit Acceptable in the 80s, he reminded us all that there were plenty of things acceptable during the decade of Madonna and Diana that you couldn’t get away with now. From legal changes like smoking on aeroplanes and in restaurants to cultural fads including perms, shoulder pads and carrying around a boom box, the landscape of the modern era looks very different to the days that launched Nintendo’s Gameboy.

But not everything that was acceptable in the 80s is a modern-day taboo. Video games are bigger business than ever and we’re all still mad for Gremlins. But this isn’t always a good thing. There are some things that have survived from the 80s that perhaps shouldn't. Transformers has been ruined for many by a disappointing movie franchise, and the less said about frustrating Rubix cubes, the better.

And then we have fax.

Some people would argue that fax is yet another generational survivor that should have been laid to rest long ago. Technology from a time long since passed, fax machines are still used the world over, while movements like “axe the fax” seek to put an end to their reign.

But do we want that?



Fax in the 21st Century

Fax usage is still utterly rampant across the globe. Billions of fax transmissions are sent every single year, fired out from the 40 million-plus units still in existence. This isn’t just a byproduct of previous fax machine use either. These aren't legacy devices bought decades ago that are still running. They are, actually, quite the opposite. Millions of new fax machines are sold to businesses annually, with no signs of things slowing down.

The fax isn’t just a survivor of the 80s; it is a technology that nothing has been able to completely supplant, despite being first introduced over 100 years ago.


Why the Fax Is Still Acceptable Technology

So fax was acceptable in the 80s, and is apparently still acceptable now, but why?

To start with, there are certain benefits to fax that no other technology has yet been able to replace. The legality of fax is still very much considered superior to other types of documentation, and fax remains the quickest way to share visual data on a universal scale.

It’s also still a highly integrated part of business communication around the world. Major economies like the USA, Japan, Great Britain, Israel and Germany maintain high levels of fax output, which means without the ability to fax, many brands looking to perform on the international stage would struggle. Fax is so prevalent in some economies that usage within certain industries can reach as high as 50% of all communication transmissions sent and received.

The fact of the matter is that fax is just too useful, and too widely recognised, for it to be simply palmed off as a product of the past that still exists today. It’s not a thing of the 80s; it's still current and valuable as a modern concept.

However, while the fax is still acceptable, and actually vital for communications on both a national and international scale, there is one element of this platform that is very much no longer acceptable, and that is the fax machine itself.


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Why the Fax Machine Isn’t Acceptable

Fax has become synonymous with the fax machine, but the two are very different things:

  • A fax is a method of communication that allows for the sharing of visual files.
  • A fax machine is a tool that allows you to send a fax.

But while fax remains invaluable, the pieces of hardware that first enabled their transmission have not stood the test of time well. Fax machines are notoriously slow, prone to security breaches and expensive to run. They are a technology of a bygone era, even by the standards of the 80s, and can’t hope to match the sleek and sophisticated hardware of the 21st century, like smartphones and state-of-the-art computers.

So fax is acceptable, but the fax machine isn’t. This seems like a paradox, but it isn’t for one simple reason: The fax machine has remained the same, but the fax has moved on. It doesn’t need old-fashioned and outdated hardware to exist and thrive anymore.


How to Be a New-Generation Faxer

Fax of the 21st century does not require a fax machine. Fax of the 21st century can actually be achieved through entirely digital solutions.

Cloud fax technology enables businesses to engage in the important world of fax, and communicate with other organisations using the platform, without having to maintain hardware that was outdated even in the 80s. Cloud fax is to fax what email was to postal mail: a natural evolution. Businesses can send fax documents via their more modern hardware (phones, tablets, computers, etc.) using internet connectivity and digital files, rather than outdated analogue lines and paper documents.

The whole process is faster, cheaper, more adaptive and efficient, and avoids issues like modern data protection compliance problems and the threat of the ISDN switch-off. It even allows you to send to — and receive fax from — those who still operate the old-fashioned hardware, thanks to modern automation tools that convert physical fax to digital files in-transit.

In a world where fax is not only acceptable but necessary, yet fax machines are dangerous and outdated, cloud faxing offers businesses a chance to enjoy the best of both worlds: universal fax capabilities run through advanced and modern digital solutions.


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