Vintage tech: From the fax machine until now

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In today’s modern world, technology is a big part of our lives. Everything from printing to finding out directions can be done instantly, with our phones now an essential rather than a handy tool to have. We take a look at some pieces that went from popular to out of favor, as well as the advances in technology that we overlook every day to not only appreciate the vintage gadgets that started it all but also show just how far they’ve come since their first launch.


The fax machine

Invented in 1843, fax machines were all the rage in the 1980s. Despite being invented well over 100 years before, they weren’t commercially available to the general public until much later, when they became an essential feature in all offices. While the first fax machines were large and impractical to have in an office, compact models were invented in the late 1970s. This quickly boosted the popularity of fax machines in both households and businesses, with the number of machines in the US jumping from 30,000 in 1973 to 4 million in 1989.

The main feature of a fax machine was to send a photocopy of a document or image to another machine via telephone lines. Now that we have scanners, photocopiers, and email, this type of tech is no longer the most convenient option.



A must-have in every office, printers have come a long way since their invention. Computer printers are thought to have been invented in 1938, although the first high-speed model was created in 1953 for use with the Univac computer. They did exactly what they said on the tin: print, whereas more modern models have the ability to scan and copy as well.

Further work on the capabilities of printers was done over the next few years, resulting in the invention of the laser printer in 1969. Just a few years later in 1976, the inkjet printer that we know today was invented, becoming a popular household item in 1988. Brands like Brother have since developed their own mark, including energy-saving features, multifunctional capabilities, and sleek, compact designs.



The first basic phone was invented in 1876 by Antonio Meucci and has seen a myriad of advances since then. Telephones were initially bulky and used solely in the home as they weren’t wireless, which is a far cry from the compact models we’re used to today. Motorola produced the very first handheld mobile phone in 1973, although it was still far bigger than modern mobiles.

 Nearly everybody has one these days, but the first-ever smartphone was invented in 1992 and looked much bigger than those available nowadays. As well as taking calls, you could send and receive emails on what was known as the Simon Personal Communicator, as well as faxes and pages. There were also organizational features such as a file folder, calendar, and the ability to schedule appointments. As impressive as this is, the Simon model was much larger than the iPhone we know and love today, which was invented only fifteen years later.

Looking back at when our technology was made and what it looked like is a great way to appreciate the many improvements that manufacturers have made over the years. We have easy access to phones which further provides us with the internet, email, the ability to connect to printers, and other essentials, whereas before you’d have to use multiple devices to have all of these functions. Phones are a great example of how a tool can be further advanced to turn them into everyday pocket essentials that provide us with instant information.


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