When Was The Fax Machine Patented?

When Was The Fax Machine Patented?

The story of facsimile technology, more commonly known as the fax machine, is a fascinating journey that begins with a Scottish mechanic and inventor named Alexander Bain.

Bain was a visionary who foresaw the potential of transmitting images over a wire.

Between 1843 and 1846, he worked tirelessly on an experimental fax machine.

His invention was able to synchronize the movement of two pendulums through a clock, scanning a message on a line-by-line basis.

Although the image quality was poor, it marked the first step towards the evolution of the fax machine.

This was a significant development in the history of communication technology, as it laid the foundation for the transmission of images over long distances.

Despite its limitations, Bain’s invention was a pioneering effort that paved the way for future advancements in facsimile technology.

When Was The Fax Machine Patented?Courtesy:BBC
When Was The Fax Machine Patented?

The Landmark Patent

On May 27, 1843, Alexander Bain received a British patent for his invention.

The patent was titled “improvements in producing and regulating electric currents and improvements in timepieces, and in electric printing, and signal telegraphs”.

In layman’s terms, this was the first fax machine.

Despite its limitations, Bain’s invention laid the groundwork for future improvements in facsimile technology.

This patent was a landmark event in the history of communication technology, as it marked the birth of a new method of transmitting images over a wire.

It was a testament to Bain’s ingenuity and foresight, and it set the stage for the development of more advanced and efficient facsimile machines.

The Evolution of the Fax Machine

The story of the fax machine did not end with Bain’s patent. In fact, it was just the beginning.

Over the years, many inventors and scientists contributed to the development and refinement of facsimile technology.

One such individual was Frederick Bakewell, who improved upon Bain’s design and created the image telegraph.

Bakewell replaced Bain’s pendulums with rotating cylinders that were synchronized, allowing for a clearer image through better synchronization.

Although Bakewell’s image telegraph was not considered a full success, it was an important step towards a commercially viable way to send images over a wire.

The First Commercial Use of Facsimile Technology

The first widely used invention similar to a fax was Giovanni Caselli’s Pantelegraph.

A major difference of Caselli’s Pantelegraph, when compared with Bain and Bakewell’s inventions, was that it used a regulating clock to keep the sending and receiving mechanisms working together.

This solved the biggest issue in image transmission – how to synchronize two machines in different locations.

This was a significant advancement in the field of facsimile technology, as it marked the first time that a facsimile machine was used for commercial purposes.

The Modern Fax Machine

Fast forward to 1964, the Xerox company introduced what many consider to be the first commercialized version of the modern fax machine.

This model set the standard for fax machines for years to come.

Despite the rise of internet-based technologies, fax machines are still used in some medical administration and law enforcement settings.

This is a testament to the enduring relevance and utility of facsimile technology.


The journey of the fax machine, from its patenting in 1843 to its modern form, is a testament to human ingenuity and the relentless pursuit of technological advancement.

As we look back at the history of the fax machine, we are reminded of how far we have come and how much further we can go in the realm of communication technology.

The story of the fax machine is a story of innovation, perseverance, and progress.

It is a story that continues to unfold, as scientists and engineers around the world continue to explore new ways to improve and refine this remarkable technology.

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